regional politics

Socialists present united front over Catalan independence drive

Party leaders espouse common rhetoric about need for “federalism”

After falling out over the nationalist sovereignty drive, the Socialist Party and its PSC Catalan branch put on a show of unity at a joint rally in Barcelona on Sunday.

Speaking before a 3,000-strong crowd, national party secretary Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba and his PSC counterpart, Pere Navarro, made a passionate defense of the “shared history” of Spanish and Catalan socialism.

A little over a month ago, the PSC broke party discipline in Congress by not voting against Catalonia’s right to decide on its independence. A veteran Socialist leader insinuated that the central party should be represented under its own banner in the northwestern region. It was the second time this year that the PSC had voted its own way with regard to Catalans’ right to decide.

Now, Socialist leaders are seeking to bridge the gap with common rhetoric about “social federalism,” a middle-of-the-road approach to Catalonia’s status that falls somewhere between the current state of affairs and outright independence, and involves constitutional changes to recognize “the singularity of Catalonia.”

“Because I love this Constitution, it’s got to change,” said Navarro. “In order to remain together, with a new financing system, because we want what’s ours without getting out of Spain.”

Rubalcaba admitted that Spain has “a territorial problem” but criticized “the dividers and the separatists.” The former, he said, “miss the old centralized Spain” even though “centralism always created inequality.” The latter “want to create a fracture in Catalonia, Spain and Europe, going down an impossible path.”

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