Seven parties in three blocs to face off on December 21
Joint candidacy in favor of Catalan state very unlikely as seven groups vie for seats in Catalan Parliament, three for a republic, three against and one in between
In the end seven parties will stand in the Catalan Parliament election on December 21. Three will be in favor of an independent Catalonia, three against and one between both options. Despite pro-independence campaigners arguing for a single unity candidacy, the three main parties in favor of a Catalan state have finally decided to stand separately. While there is still time until Friday for joint candidacies to register, the left-wing CUP party (Popular Unity Candidacy) decided on Sunday to run alone on a “radical, pro-independence, left-wing” ticket.
The decision by the CUP membership to rule out a joint candidacy makes it almost impossible for the other pro-independence parties to run in coalition. Jailed vice president Oriol Junqueras’ party, ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia), announced some of its candidates for the election on Saturday, and said they would only consider a joint candidacy if CUP also agreed. In the 2015 election, ERC stood on a joint ticket with president Carles Puigdemont’s party, PDeCAT (Catalan Democratic Party), as part of the Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) coalition. However, a similar candidacy will not happen in the upcoming vote despite PDeCAT pushing for it.
Jailed and ‘in exile’ candidates
ERC is expected to run in the elections with Junqueras as contender for president and three other jailed ministers also trying to regain a seat in the Parliament. Meanwhile, president Puigdemont will try for reelection as PDeCAT’s main candidate. Some other jailed ministers are also expected to be on the electoral roll.
PDeCAT will take part in the vote as part of a broader coalition in which party officials might take a step back. The electoral list is likely to include also some civil leaders, such as the jailed president of the Catalan National Assembly, Jordi Sànchez. Both parties are also expected to include candidates “in exile” in Belgium. The CUP party has not yet disclosed who will be their top candidates, but their internal regulations state that none of the MPs from the previous term can repeat.
‘We will work for a third bloc,’ Barcelona mayor says
CUP might include some of the former left-wing Podemos officials who stepped down from the party last week, when the Madrid leadership blocked any approach to independence forces. The rest of the Catalan branch of Podemos will run alongside Catalunya en Comú. The leader of this party, Barcelona mayor Ada Colau, said in an interview on Monday that her party will not take part in either the pro-independence or the unionist blocs.
“We will work for a third bloc, a third road which does not identify with blocs,” she said. Colau described both the enforcement of direct rule in Catalonia and the declaration of independence as “the two most horrible things that have happened in Catalonia in a long time.” Colau will not run as a candidate in the election, but the current leader of the party in the Spanish Congress, Xavier Domènech, will.
Same leaders in unionist parties
The three unionist parties will also run in the election separately and their candidates for president will be the same as in the 2015 elections. Their aim is to avoid the pro-independence parties from getting another majority in the Parliament as they did in 2015. Ciudadanos is the main party in this bloc, with Inés Arrimadas as leader. She said on Monday that her party wants to “unite Catalans again and return the respect and admiration that Catalonia has always transmitted.”
The Catalan Socialists will feature Miquel Iceta as their candidate for presidency. They have also signed up some former members of Unió, the extinct Christian Democrat party that won no seats in the previous election. The Socialists justify the controversial inclusion of right-wingers saying that they want to integrate “all people who want to break with rupture and division.”
The Catalan branch of the People’s Party will again run with Xavier García Albiol as leader, with their main argument being Mariano Rajoy’s measures against the pro-independence roadmap, including the enforcement of direct rule.