A Brief History of the Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya (PSC-PSOE)
The Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya (PSC-PSOE) is a Catalan social democrat party founded in 1978, which outside Catalonia is federated to the national Spanish socialist party PSOE, whose line it follows Congress and Senate in Madrid.
The party currently has around 7,000 members and traditional PSC voters mainly come from the major Catalan cities, particularly where there is a large Spanish-speaking population.
PSC is currently in government in Lleida and Tarragona and has traditionally controlled the Ajuntament de Barcelona. It also has strong support in the Barcelona Metropolitan area, and runs the council in important towns such as L’Hospitalet, Cornellà, Sabadell and Terrassa.
The PSC was founded in Barcelona in 1978 and is the result of a fusion of the Partit Socialista de Catalunya-Congrés – PSC(C), the Partit Socialista de Catalunya-Reagrupament – PSC(R) and the Catalan Federation of PSOE.
It is the only regional PSOE that is actually a seperate party rather than a regional branch and this is important in understanding some of the traditional internal divisions.
The party has always included diverse trains of thought, firstly its role as a Catalan party including members who are in favour of if not independence at least much greater autonomy and secondly, its position a branch of PSOE, which involves the necessity of putting Catalanism to one side at a Spanish national level.
However, the party also benefits from the high profile of being part of a national party and has traditionally been the Catalan party with most deputies in Congress.
In the Spanish Senate, PSC forms part of the coalition Entesa Catalana de Progrés along with ICV-EUiA.
In the first Municipal Elections in 1979, PSC won control of a large number of Ajuntaments and established itself as one of the major Catalan political parties.
In the 1980 Autonomic Elections, the PSC candidate Joan Reventós was beaten into second place by CiU’s Jordi Pujol, who remained President of the Generalitat until 2003.
Throughout most of this period the Mayor of Barcelona was PSC, being occupied first by Narcis Serra and then Pasqual Maragall and it also became something of a cliché that Catalonia voted socialist in general elections but conservative Catalanist in regional ones.
In the Autonomic Elections of 1999, PSC formed the Ciutadans pel Canvi coalition with ICV for the first time but Pasqual Maragall still fell four seats short of Jordi Pujol in his bid for the Presidency of the Generalitat, even though the party received more votes.
In the 2003 elections, the Ciutadans pel Canvi-PSC coalition was the most voted but once again won four seats less than CiU. However, an agreement with Esquerra Republicana allowed the formation of the Tripartit and Pasqual Maragall became President of the Generalitat for the first time.
Having expelled ERC from the coalition, Maragall called early elections in 2006 and this time the Ciutadans pel Canvi-PSC coalition was the second most voted party, winning 37 seats, 11 fewer than CiU. However, a new agreement with ICV and ERC allowed the formation of a second Tripartit and PSC’s José Montilla became President of the Generalitat.
After the second Tripartit, José Montilla stood again in the Autonomic Elections of 2010 and PSC obtained the worst results since the return of democracy winning only 28 seats. As a result of the defeat, Montilla resigned his seat in the Parliament of Catalonia and Joaquim Nadal took over as Leader of the Opposition.
Pere Navarro took over as leader in December 2011 and was soon faced with the challenge of the Catalan independence movement following the “Catalunya, nou estat d’Europa” demonstration on La Diada of September 11th 2012.
PSC favoured a federalist option and didn’t take part in the demonstration, which brought the leadership into conflict with the Catalanist wing, which included Ernest Maragall, Marina Geli, Antoni Castells, Àngel Ros, Laia Bonet and Joan Ignasi Elena.
In the early elections called as a result of the demonstration in November 2012, as the party didn’t have a clear policy either for or against independence and the decline continued. PSC won only 20 seats in the Catalan Parliament.
Pere Navarro’s resigned as General Secretary on June 16th 2014 and Miquel Iceta was the only candidate willing to fill his shoes.
Iceta’s current challenge is to find a fit for PSC between the clear arguments in favour and against Catalan independence. It appears that the federalist option, or at least some changes to the constitution, is receiving a little more support from the new PSOE leadership in Madrid.
Given the splintering of Catalan parties on the left of the political sphere, the rise of Podemos and the the desertion of many of the Catalanists to form NEC and Avancem, PSC are going to struggle in both the municipal elections in May 2015 and the planned elections to the Parliament of Catalonia on September 27th, which are billed as a proxy referendum on Catalan independence.