A Brief History of the Partido Popular Català
The Partido Popular Català is not a separate party but rather the delegation of the Spanish Partido Popular in Catalonia and consequently follows the main party line.
The Catalan delegation was founded in 1989, when Alianza Popular became Partido Popular and is currently presided by Alicia Sánchez-Camacho.
Previous presidents have been Jorge Fernández Díaz, Aleix Vidal-Quadras, Alberto Fernández Díaz, Josep Piqué and Daniel Sirera.
PPC is currently the fourth force in Catalan politics and in the elections to the Pariament of Catalonia of November 2012 won 19 seats out of 135, which is the best result in the party’s history.
The party has campaigned for the ‘No’ vote on Catalan independence and in fact, has been unwilling to allow any kind of referendum to be held at all.
The XIII Regional Congress agreed that the party change its name from Partido Popular de Catalunya to Partido Popular Català and to the incorporation of the Catalan Senyera flag into the logo.
The Partido Popular de Cataluña came into existence in 1989 when Alianza Popular was rebranded as Partido Popular, when José Maria Aznar and Jorge Fernández Díaz were leaders in Spain and Catalonia respectively.
The party describes itself as centre-right and constitutionalist but its roots are firmly based in the Franco regime and some members have associations with the extreme right.
At the end of the 1980s and 90s, the Partido Popular in Catalonia went through a deep crisis because a radical group led by Aleix Vidal-Quadras wanted direct confrontation with Jordi Pujol’s CiU government whilst leader Jorge Fernández Díaz took a more moderate line.
In 1991, Vidal-Quadras became president of PPC and in the 1995 Autonomic Elections, the party obtained 17 seats and 13.8% of the vote, the best results in Catalonia to date.
This was also a time when the Popular Party was most unpopular in Catalonia with 70% of Catalans saying they would never vote PPC.
After the 1996 General Elections, when José Maria Aznar needed an agreement with CiU in order to form a government in Madrid, one of Jordi Pujol’s conditions in the infamous Pact of the Majestic was that Vidal-Quadras would cease to preside the Partido Popular in Catalonia.
The other conditions were improvements in autonomic finances, the end of obligatory military service and increased powers for the Generalitat of Catalonia.
CiU also needed the PPC’s support in the Catalan Parliament as the 1995 Autonomic Elections had left them governing in minority.
Consequently, Vidal-Quadras was forced to resign and his replacement was Alberto Fernández Díaz, the first PPC President’s brother, who would attempt to calm relations with CiU but ended up losing votes in the Autonomic Elections of 1999, with a decrease of 120,000 votes and 5 seats.
Results improved significantly in the General Elections a year later but, in 2003, another relative moderate Josep Piqué became PPC President and results once again took a turn for the worst.
Piqué finally resigned in 2007 with Daniel Sirera acting as interim president until the election of Alicia Sánchez-Camacho in 2008.
Under Sánchez-Camacho’s leadership, the PPC managed to regain the third position in Catalan politics winning 18 deputies in the Autonomic Elections of 2010, which resulted in the party giving its support to the Artur Mas’s CiU government.
The PPC’s growth in popularity was confirmed in the Municipal Elections of May 2011 with 363.555 votes (12,67%) and 473 councillors, compared with 283.195 (9,87%) and 284 concejales obtained in 2007.
The PPC won 10 mayorships, including Castelldefels and Xavier Garcia Albiol in Catalonia’s third largest city Badalona, which was the first time the PPC had won control of a major Catalan city.
Furthermore, as a result of pacts mainly with CiU majorities, the PPC formed part of the government of another 50 or so municipalities, including comarca capitals, Vielha and Reus, as well as the Diputació de Barcelona with CiU ceding two vice-presidencies and putting 32 years government by PSC to an end.
In the November 2011 General Elections, the Partido Popular began the campaign with an event featuring party leader Mariano Rajoy in Castelldefels.
The results were once again positive and PPC came third behind CiU and PSC-PSOE with 715.802 votes and 11 deputies, the second best result in history after 2003.
The head of the list for Barcelona, Jorge Fernández Díaz was later named Minister of the Interior by Mariano Rajoy.
In the Autonomic Elections of November 2012, which Artur Mas had called early as a result of the pro-independence demonstration of September 11th 2012, Alicia Sánchez-Camacho was top of the list for Barcelona, Enric Millo for Girona, Dolora López for Lleida and Rafael Luna for Tarragona with Manuel Reyes, Mayor of Castelldefels, standing as Number 2 for Barcelona.
Although the party came in fourth after CiU, ERC and PSC, the PPC had the best results winning 19 seats and 471,197.
However, as a result of their position on the Catalan independence referendum, the party lost a large proportion of its voters in the European Elections of May 2014 gaining on 9.9% of the votes, 246,220 in total in elections that admittedly have a significantly lower turnout.
Although the official name is Partido Popular Català in Catalan and there is a Catalan senyera flag on the logo, it’s pretty clear that PPC does best in elections when it takes a strong anti-Catalanist line and this is what the party has done under Alicia Sánchez-Camacho.
However, in this field it has strong competition from Ciutadans, who are likely to do quite well in the Municipal Elections in May 2015 and could well split the Spanish Unionist vote in the early elections to the Parliament of Catalonia in September 2015, which will act as a proxy referendum on Catalan independence.