Catalan Political Parties

Political Parties in Catalonia - December 2016

Perhaps rather than Catalan political parties it would be more accurate to say political parties in Catalonia because some are specific to Catalonia, some are more Spanish and some are a mixture.

The political make-up in Catalonia is complex to say the least because parties are not only divided along traditional left-right lines but there are also differences based on nationalist politics.

Some parties favour complete independence of Catalonia from Spain, others want to negotiate a new relationship with the central Spanish government including possibly a federal solution whilst a third group of parties favours the maintenance of the status quo or even a reduction in Catalonia's autonomous powers.

The accompanying graphic from 2015 is a little out of date but gives a rough idea of many of the Catalan parties on both issues with left-right on the horizontal axis and Catalanism-Spanish nationalism on the vertical axis.

Catalan Political Parties in the Current Parliament

Based on the election results of September 2015, there are currently seven different political parties or coalitions represented in the Parliament of Catalonia and the 135 seats are distributed as follows.

Junts pel Sí is a pro-independence coalition made up of PDECat, Esquerra Republicana and various smaller parties and independents and its two major components have undergone a lot of changes since the Catalan independence movement really to centre stage in Catalan politics after the Catalan National Day or Diada of September 11th 2012. 

At the time the ruling party was the coalition Convergència i Unió led by Artur Mas, which had dominated the Parliament of Catalonia since Spain's Transition to Democracy after the death of General Franco in 1975. Convergència's commitment to Catalan independence led to the break up of CiU and a financial scandal involving its legendary founder, Jordi Pujol, has led the party to change its name to Partit Demòcrata Europeu de Catalunya (PDECat). It is currently suffering from something of an identity crisis and as you can see from the poll below is losing a lot of support.

In 2012, Esquerra Republicana was very much the junior partner in the Catalan independence movement but due to the perception that it is the party that is most committed to achieving independence for Catalonia, it's popularity has steadily increased and if elections to the Parliament of Catalonia were held today, Esquerra would be easily the most voted party. 

The far left Candidatura d'Unitat Popular or CUP is another pro-independence party, which was virtually unheard of prior to 2012 but has had a massive influence on this legislature. As Junts pel Sí failed to gain an absolute majority in Parliament of 63 seats out of 135 by 1 seat, they have had to rely on the CUP to get any measures through.

The CUP have dug their heels in over two major issues. After the elections, they refused to vote in favour of the investiture of the Junts pel Sí candidate, Artur Mas as next President of the Generalitat and this resulted in Carles Puigdemont taking his place at the last moment in order to save the legislature and the independence process. They have also refused to vote in favour of the budget throughout the whole of 2016, which has also put the process under serious pressure. As a result of being perceived as an unreliable partner, their popularity has suffered.

Catalunya Sí Que Es Pot is an umbrella party including left-wing parties such as Iniciativa per Catalunya and the Spanish party, Podemos. They aren't in favour of independence but do support a referendum. In future elections, they would probably go under the name of En Comú Podem and their popularity seems to have grown slightly.

The rest of the parties are all against independence for Catalonia. Ciutadans are the second largest party in the Parliament of Catalonia and were founded in Catalonia but fielded many candidates in the Spanish elections.

PSC are the Catalan affiliate of the Spanish socialists, PSOE, and the Partido Popular are part of the ruling Spanish conservatives. There has been a redistribution and slight in support for the anti-independence parties in general.

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