Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Party Review – En Comú Podem: A plurinational Spain and a “differentiated solution” for Catalonia

Sara Prim

Barcelona (CNA).- ‘En Comú Podem’, an alternative left coalition which emerged a few months before the last Spanish Elections, on the 20th of December 2015, obtained 12 MPs in the Spanish Parliament, representing the majoritarian option of the Catalans for these elections. It gathers together members from Catalan Green-Socialist party ICV, the Catalan branch of the Spanish party ‘Podemos’ and representatives from the 'En Comú' candidacies, which won significant mayoralties in the last local elections, for example that of Barcelona, with social activist and now Barcelona mayor Ada Colau as its strongest asset. Their partner in Spain ‘Podemos’ is the only Spanish party to defend Catalonia’s right to hold a referendum on independence, although the party’s position is to keep Catalonia within Spain. ‘En Comú Podem candidate Xavier Domènech favours turning Spain into a “plurinational state” with “differentiated solutions for Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia”, those Autonomous Communities with a stronger nationalist component. 

Although the core of ‘En Comú Podem’s programme for the 26-J Spanish Elections focuses on social measures, the party’s position regarding Catalonia’s push for independence is what has centred the debate during this campaign. In a press conference at CNA headquarters, ‘En Comú Podem candidate Xavier Domènech reaffirmed his commitment to hold a referendum on independence in Catalonia. This would be the initial phase of “the redefinition” of the Spanish State, which would become a reality “one or two years” afterwards.

In this vein, Domènech bids to turn Spain into a “plurinational state” which could offer “differentiated solutions for Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia”. "We bid for a plurinational state. How this state will organise its territorial model will depend on the nations themselves”, stated Domènech and added that the model “doesn't have to be the same” for all the nations. 

Recognising such “plurinationality” would be the basis for the different nations within Spain to decide the kind of relationship they want to keep with the Spanish state, which would be “a bit à la carte”, stated Domènech.

"For me Catalonia is, without a doubt, a nation. And without a doubt, its sovereignty has to be recognised”, he admitted .But once this sovereignty is recognised and exercised, it will have to be shared. Sovereignty is better when shared", added Domènech, and admitted that he would back the ‘yes’ side in any independence referendum if it involved this “shared sovereignty”.

‘Podemos’ soften their conditions

In the run-up to the last Spanish Elections, held in December 2015, alternative left ‘Podemos’, which is ‘En Comú Podem’s partner in Spain, reaffirmed their commitment to “promote the celebration of a referendum with legal guarantees in Catalonia”. ‘Podemos’ leader Pablo Iglesias also spoke in support of a “plurinational model” of Spain “where Catalonia could fit” and criticised Spanish President Mariano Rajoy’s “stagnant strategy”.

After the elections, in which ‘Podemos’ obtained 68 MPs, the party put a sine qua non condition on reaching agreements with the other Spanish parties: holding a referendum in Catalonia “with guarantees” and with “a single, clear question”. The Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and Spanish Unionist ‘Ciutadans’, the two main parties likely to reach agreements with ‘Podemos’ in order to obtain the required majority to govern, accused Iglesias of “putting red lines” and forcing the country to call for new elections.

Probably as a result of that, during the present campaign, for the 26-J Spanish Elections, Iglesias has insisted that “there will be no red lines”, which has concerned and unleashed criticism from the pro-independence parties’ supporters. 

  • Xavier_Domenech

  • Alternative Left alliance 'En Comú Podem's candidate for the Spanish Elections in Barcelona, Xavier Domènech (by ACN)