CUP - Candidatura d'Unitat Popular
Parliamentary Spokesperson: David Fernàndez
Founded: 7 March 1991
Head OffIce: Plaça Gispert, 4, 1º (Manresa)
Candidatura d'Unitat Popular is a left-wing Catalan political party, which differs from traditional political parties is that it is based on an assembly system, where all decisions are taken by its members through direct democracy.
The CUP campaigns in favour of creating independendent socialist Catalan Countries, which are ecologically sustainable, territorially equilibrated and non-patriarchal.
The party currently has three deputies in the Parliament of Catalonia and representation on over 80 Ajuntaments mainly in Catalonia but also in Valencia and aim to win representation throughout the whole of the Catalan Countries.
The term "Unitat Popular" or "Popular Unity" refers to the left-wing alliance created by Salvador Allende in Chile, which promoted a social transformation until the government was toppled by Pinochet's coup d'etat.
Initially formed in 1986, the CUP has close links with left-wing Catalanist groups including MDT, Endavant and Arran (originally Maulets), and attempts bring the diverse tendencies together under a single candidacy.
The CUP didn't start to make its mark on Catalan politics until the Municipal Elections of 1999 and in 2002, the group published Issue 0 of its bulletin Unitat Popular.
In December the same year, an Assembly met at Vilafranca del Penedès and agreed on the Declaration of Vilafranca, which set the objectives as:
"To become a unitary political reference at municipal level for the pro-independence left and all sectors of the working class and popular classes who are conscious of the need for a socialist transformation of our society and the establishment of a political framework that guarantees social rights, democracy and freedom for our people."
Furthermore, the Assembly agreed to consolidate and extend the "collectives for the municipal fight" and create points of coordination and mutual support between the CUP throughout the territory.
In the municipal elections of 1999, the CUP presented candidates on single lists in 10 Ajuntaments and in coalition to another 8 and as a result won representation on the councils of Torà, Vilafranca del Penedès and Valls as well as in Sabadell, Salt, Sant Pere de Ribes, Ripollet, Viladamat, Cerdanyola del Vallès, Sallent and Arbúcies as part of other formations.
In 2004, the CUP stood for the European Elections under the slogan "Amb la CUP, l'Esquerra Independentista a Europa" - "With CUP, the pro-independence left to Europe" not because they expected much success but in order to promote the formation's ideas.
The result was many new assemblies in various towns and as the Estatut negotiations reached their end in 2005-6, the CUP began their "Prou Estatuts. Ara independència" - "Enough of Statutes. Now Independence" campaign and argued in favour of a No vote in the referendum.
In the Municipal Elections of 2007, CUP campaigned under the slogan "Vota't. Entra amb nosaltres a l'Ajuntament" "Vote. Join the Council with us" and presented 50 candidacies of their own and were involved in 30 others.
They obtained 27 regidors (councillors), which tripled their previous number, and now had representation on 7 comarca capitals, Berga (2), Manresa (1), Mataró (1), Valls (1), Vic (2), Vilafranca del Penedès (2), Vilanova i la Geltrú (1) as well as on other important towns, including Arenys de Munt (1), Cardedeu (1), Celrà (1), Molins de Rei (1), Montesquiu (1), Sallent (1), Sant Celoni (2), Torà (1) and Viladamat (1).
Between 2009, the CUP held a number of General Assemblies, which aimed to extend the reach beyond the town councils.
However, rather than standing for the elections to the Parliament of Catalonia of 2010, the formation became actively involved in the popular consultations on independence that were taking place around Catalonia at the time.
It was in the Municipal Elections of May 2011 that the CUP took a major step forward.
The party obtained 3 regidors in Girona and was the most voted list in Arenys de Munt with 4 regidors, in Alfés (3) and Navàs (4) and also won an absolute majority in Viladamat so the mayors of Arenys de Munt, Navàs, Viladamat and Celrà are all CUP.
The formation also did well Vilanova i la Geltrú, Valls and Berga with 3 regidors in each and came third in Vic and Vilafranca del Penedès. Other important successes were Molins de Rei, Banyoles and Reus.
At the National Assembly of March 2012 held in Reus, the possibility and standing for Catalan Parliament was debated once again and it was decided that the formation would stand "as soon as possible".
Once Artur Mas had called elections, the General Assembly met in Molins de Rei in October and decided that journalist David Fernàndez, the regidora from Vic Georgina Rieradevall and the regidor from Vilanova i la Geltru Quim Arrufat would head the list for Barcelona, with Lluc Salellas heading the list for Girona, Antonieta Jarné for Lleida and Jordi Martí for Tarragona.
A number of well-known personalities, such as the ex-footballer Oleguer Presas and the singers Cesk Freixas, Francesc Ribera Titot and Xavi Sarrià occupied positions further down the list.
More than 30 Assemblies were also organised around Catalonia to discuss the campaign and with 27,111 endorsements, the CUP gained more than five times the number needed to stand.
The electoral campaign revolved around 1) Building a new country 2) A new social, econòmic and cultural 3) Equal opportunities, freedom and social and labour rights 4) The defence of the territory.
In the elections of November 25th, CUP-Alternativa d'Esquerres gained 126.219 votes and the three candidates for Barcelona, David Fernàndez, Georgina Rieradevall (replaced by Isabel Valle) and Quim Arrufat, were elected to the Catalan Parliament.
It seemed possible that two EUiA deputies might join with CUP to make 5, which is the minimum needed form a Parliamentary Group, but in the end they joined the ICV group and CUP joined the Grup Mixt in the Catalan Parliament.
Regarding the referendum on self-determination that was held on November 9th 2014, the CUP positioned itself in favour of 'critical unanimity' because they would have preferred a more direct question.
The CUP's campaign for the referendum revolved around a symbolic triple Yes - Yes to self-determination, Yes to independence and Yes to the Catalan countries.
In the European Elections of May 2014, CUP decided not to stand favouring a position of "independentists in confrontation with the EU".
Given their strong background on town councils and higher profile in Catalan politics over recent years, CUP are likely to strengthen their representation in the forthcoming municipal elections in May 2015.
Similarly, I expect them to do well in the elections to the Parliament of Catalonia that President Artur Mas has brought forward to September 27th 2015 and which will act as a proxy referendum on Catalan independence.
CUP have sensibly kept out of arguments between CiU and ERC, which means they have maintained their credibility amongst pro-independence voters, and also their pro-independence position means their support is unlikely to be affected by Spain-oriented Podemos.