Together for Catalonia: bringing back President Puigdemont
Q&A on Carles Puigdemont pro-independence ticket, which also includes imprisoned civil society leader Jordi Sànchez
What is Together for Catalonia?
Together for Catalonia is a pro-independence ticket encompassing president Carles Puigdemont’s PDeCAT party and independent candidates. The party leader as well as its main architect is Puigdemont himself, who campaigned from Brussels, where he traveled after the Spanish government dismissed him following a declaration of independence. Their motto for the campaign is “Puigdemont, our president”.
What is its stance on independence?
Together for Catalonia is a pro-independence ticket. In the campaign, they made the case for electing Puigdemont president once again. This, they claim, is the best way to reject the Spanish government’s direct rule in Catalonia and restore the dismissed pro-independence executive—indeed, the December 21 election was called by Madrid after dissolving the Catalan Parliament.
What do the polls say?
Together for Catalonia’s rise in the polls has left many astonished. Now, in third position, it’s getting close to pro-independence ERC party and unionist Ciutadans, the two biggest parties on both sides of the political spectrum. In 2015, PDeCAT and left-wing ERC won the election united in the Together for Yes pro-independence ticket with 62 seats. Thanks to the anti-capitalist CUP party, with 10 seats, they achieved an absolute majority out of the 135 seats of the Parliament. This time, ERC decided not to run together. In the beginning, polls suggested that ERC would win comfortably. However, Together for Catalonia managed to rise in the polls while running a campaign focused on Puigdemont.
Who are their candidates?
Although Puigdemont is Together for Catalonia’s most visible candidate, the ticket also includes remarkable figures of the pro-independence movement. A major acquisition was number 2, Jordi Sànchez. Formerly the president of the Catalan National Assembly, he has been in prison for more than two months. Sànchez has not been allowed to participate in the campaign: although he managed to record a voice message from prison that was then played at rallies and TV ads, the Spanish government then opened an inquiry into him.
Together for Catalonia also includes five Catalan ministers belonging to PDeCAT. Just like Sànchez, the former Home Affairs minister Joaquim Forn is also in prison. Ministers Jordi Turull and Josep Rull were released after spending a month behind bars. Clara Ponsatí and Lluís Puig are also in Brussels with Puigdemont and are candidates for the candidacy.
What is PDeCAT and where does it stand on other issues?
Once the main political powers in Catalonia, Puigdemont’s party —formerly known as CDC— was rebranded as the Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT) in 2016 after its foundations were shaken by independence aspirations and corruption allegations. PDeCAT’s president, Artur Mas, was the head of the Catalan government in 2012 when he galvanized the independence movement after the Spanish president Mariano Rajoy declined to give Catalonia a better fiscal deal. According to a study by Catalonia’s Opinion Studies Center (CEO) in 2014, people gave CDC an average ranking of 5.64 in a 0-10 scale representing the left-right axis.