Tag Archives: PSC

The decline and fall of the PSC

From a high in 1999, where it won 38% of the vote in Catalan parliamentary elections, the PSC is now at an all time low. While it’s easy to blame this problem on meddling from Madrid, the decline of the PSC is intrinsically linked to its abandonment of basic principles which it defended at the height of its success – most importantly the right of Catalans to decide their future democratically.

Under Carme Chacón’s stewardship (from what I understand she remains the most powerful figure in the PSC), numerous mistakes have been made:

  • Chacón has used the PSC as a tool to try to obtain personal power at state level. This is evidenced by her adoption of a patently dishonest discourse regarding the question of Catalan separatism, aimed not at securing the PSC’s position but at boosting Chacón’s own chances of leading a PSOE still dominated by anti-separatist sentiment (see José Bono, Susana Díaz).
  • Chacón’s leadership has also boosted the right wing of the party, and left it without a true social-democratic focus (in line with the PSOE as a whole).
  • Her powerful position in the PSC has helped to ensure the appointment of a series of weak and ineffectual leaders in Barcelona, particularly Pere Navarro and Miquel Iceta, who have been totally unable to run the PSC on their own terms. This has further weakened the party when faced by more dynamic party leaders like Mas, Junqueras, Rivera and more recently, Colau.
  • The PSC’s adoption of an anti-Catalanist position is at odds with its line under Maragall, who defended not only the independence of the party within the Socialist federation, but also the Catalans’ right to decide. This decision was at least in part conditioned by the rise of Cs. Cs is a pseudo-centrist party which has learned one of the best tricks of the PP – know how to speak to the far right, and how to adopt its positions on questions of nationality, language policy, the right to decide, etc – without actually espousing right-wing policies (well, not very often anyway: the mask slips sometimes, like when its leaders say that gay marriage is “problematic” or that male violence against women “doesn’t exist”). The PSC’s shift in position culminated in its purging the party of anyone with pro-independence views, further boosting ERC and the newer Podem-EnComú.
  • I have a feeling that the PSC’s analysis of the rise of Cs is flawed. The PSC seems to think that it can win votes by seeming to be nearly as unionist as Cs. But at the same time, it hasn’t been willing to drop its commitment to policies like ‘linguistic immersion’ (education in Catalan for all), which Cs opposes. This has led to a disjointed position which Cs has found it easy to exploit. It has also led many former PSC voters – a large number of whom supported the new Estatut and, at least nominally, the right to decide, to look elsewhere – ERC, and the CUP have benefited. Every time the PSC takes a step towards Cs in terms of policy, it loses votes. This is an example of a very common mistake in politics: when a political movement seems to be gathering momentum, you can either co-opt it and try to lead it (see: CDC and the separatist movement) or you can oppose it. What you can never do is follow the upstarts (in this case, Cs) and hope to gather a few votes by clinging to their coat tails. It never works.
  • But it has worked for Cs and for their friends in Societat Civil Catalana. Probably the clearest symbol of the PSC’s decline is its involvement in SCC, a unionist organization founded by and operated in the tradition of, the unionist far-right. This takes the PSC beyond an accusation of Pasokification. The PSC now regularly shares a platform with SCC – and each time it does, it provides a new coat of democratic makeup to a group founded by the likes of Josep Ramon Bosch and Javier Barraycoa. That SCC is Somatemps 2.0 is well established. For the PSC to share a platform with a group like this shows just how far the PSC has fallen. We end up with situations like the youth PSC of Cerdanyola attacking the CUP over apparently invented accusations of violence on the UAB campus, while defending SCC and their neo-Nazi boot boys.

Now, you wonder how much longer Chacón can continue, given that she has managed to lead the PSC to its worst ever results in both Catalan and Spanish parliamentary elections. When, as predicted, we end up with fresh elections this summer, I’d expect them to be her last chance. The alternative is annihilation.

UPDATE: ah well, there you go. It turns out that the last elections were her last chance. Chacón is out. Maybe she read this. We’ll never know.

I’m voting ERC for a change in Cerdanyola

Since I first moved here 13 years ago, Cerdanyola has been governed by ICV and the PSC. Under Cristina Real (PSC) until 2003 and especially Toni Morral (ICV) until 2011, Cerdanyola has changed a lot. In lots of ways for the best (I’m thinking about the improvements to Carrer Sant Ramon, Plaça Sant Ramon and Plaça Abat Oliba in particular). But there has also been inertia and the wrong sort of development. The toxic waste dumps between the main town and Bellaterra have been left to fester. The Riu Sec is a total mess. The Altis sports center was mismanaged into bankruptcy, only to see €8M spent on turning it into a library. Money has been spent on padel courts while nurseries are shutting down. Plans surfaced for the Centre Direccional – 4,000 new houses to be built on green field land. And a huge shopping center is planned, with the approval of the PSC and ICV. Most recently, the proposed construction of a crematorium, a few hundred metres from people’s homes, hidden by the PSC and ICV as a simple ‘remodeling’ of the existing cemetery.

Until late last year, I was a member of the local branch of Iniciativa. My reasons for leaving were mostly down to the party’s national leadership. But they weren’t helped by what I feel is the complicit attitude on the part of Cerdanyola’s branch. Jordi Miró should, in my opinion, defend sustainable development and green policies but he shrugged and told me that dealing with the toxic waste dumps – where they want to build these 4,000 homes – was “too expensive”. A party that refused to rule out the construction of a large shopping centre on the edge of town (Cerdanyola’s residents have access to good value locally owned shops in the town centre, as well as shopping malls at Baricentro, Sant Cugat, La Maquinista, Terrassa, etc – there is, simply, no need for another large out-of-town centre). I think that Jordi is a good guy on a personal level – I voted for him in last year’s primaries – but I don’t think he or his party can deliver change in Cerdanyola.

Meanwhile, Carme Carmona, the appointed PSC mayor of Cerdanyola seems to have done nothing. She and her party celebrate every pot hole filled as if it’s a minor miracle. But ask them why they’ve cut down dozens of trees in the last few months and they’re silent. They’ve acted as if doing the bare minimum is something to be celebrated. I don’t care that much about the cynical way they’ve suddenly started repairing streets in the last few weeks, in time for the elections. “It’s what everyone does”, after all. I do care that almost every project she and her town hall seem to be proud of has been completed within a couple of months of the elections. And I cared when Carmona complained on Twitter about ‘Latin barbecues’, as if immigrants were the only ones capable of making a mess in the park. I don’t know if there’s any truth in the rumour that she has recently bought a house in Sant Cugat but it wouldn’t surprise me.

During the last 4 years, Helena Solà and her ERC colleagues have formed a genuine opposition to the PSC-ICV ajuntament. Questioning the town hall’s spending, the vanity projects, the public funds for a football pitch and padel courts that the vast majority won’t use, the senseless tree-cutting campaign (allegedly to save money), the secret plans for a shopping center, the secret agreement to build a crematorium, the abject failure to resolve a hundred other problems. ERC’s program for Cerdanyola is ambitious but not unrealistic. A bit like how I’d describe their chances of winning (they won the most votes in the Euro elections this year). Having spoken to her a few times over the last year or so, I believe that she’s genuinely determined to improve Cerdanyola and to deliver change from the left.

So this year, I’ll vote for ERC and Helena Solà in Cerdanyola. They haven’t held the town hall since the 2nd republic: I’d say it’s time to give them another chance.

UPDATED: CiU wins Catalan elections – without absolute majority

UPDATED

Current results (99% of votes counted):

CiU 62

PSC 28

PPC 18

ICV-EUiA 10

ERC 10

SI 4

C’s 3

(PxC 0)

=====

The first results of today’s Catalan elections are in. CiU have won a convincing majority, which was to be expected. The PP has replaced ERC as the third largest group in Catalonia. The PSC has lost 10% of its vote. Iniciativa has fared worse than the last polls suggested. Solidaritat Catalana (‘SI’, Joan Laporta’s party) might get as many as 4 seats. Ciutadans have failed to do better than their previous successes.

CiU’s probable 66 seats leaves the party just short of an absolute majority in the Catalan parliament, but Artur Mas will be the new president. The question now is whether CiU will attempt to govern as a minority government, or if they’ll enter a coalition in order to guarantee the majority. Possible coalition partners would be the PP, ERC or even SI.

The PP would claim that they are the natural partners of CiU, and the two parties have been allied before. But the PP’s politics have become significantly more anti-Catalanista since then. It might be difficult to convince CiU activists that such a colition was really in Catalonia’s best interests.

Esquerra will obviously want to join a coalition. Their main political strategy recently has been to establish themselves as the kingmakers of Catalan politics. I get the impression that ERC might be a difficult sell too, though, as their support has dropped significantly in these elections. On the other hand, a weakened ERC might make a more attractive partner for CiU. It all comes down to whether CiU wants a Catalanist coalition, or would rather see ERC reduced to a minor force in Catalan politics. I suspect that they might prefer the latter option.

The wildcard here could be SI. Essentially a new party, they look like they could have the seats CiU needs, while also being small enough to be a pliable coalition partner. Personally, I see this as unlikely.

CiU obtindria entre 63 i 66 diputats; el PSC, entre 23 i 24; el PPC, entre 15 i 17; ERC, entre 11 i 13; ICV, entre 8 i 10; C’s, entre 2 i 3; SI, 4, i RI-Cat, 1.