The Catalan crisis has caused a deep fracture between Spanish anti-establishment party Podemos and its Catalan subsidiary, Podem. Both branches are at odds over the independence declaration and the snap election announced for December 21.
Central leaders have complained about the “damage” to the party’s “political prestige” caused by Podem leaders’ sympathies for the independence movement in Catalonia, where Podem urged people to go vote in the banned referendum of October 1.
A Podemos faction known as Anticapitalistas, quickly recognized “the new Catalan republic”
Podemos officials in Madrid oppose the unilateral declaration of independence and instead support holding a valid referendum with legal guarantees.
Podem’s leader, Albano Dante Fachin, describes himself as non-separatist and a supporter of a plurinational state. On Thursday of last week he spoke against the independence declaration inside the Catalan assembly.
But Podem deputies then proceeded to vote on the controversial motion paving the way for an independent republic, a move that caught Podemos leaders in Madrid by surprise.
The latter are accusing Podem of failing to keep them appraised of the situation. “The lack of information and the behavior by our deputies during the vote triggered a situation of unease within this body and the entire organization,” said Podemos in a statement.
There were 83 deputies inside the 135-seat chamber at the time of the vote – the rest had all walked out in protest. The outcome was 70-10 in favor of the declaration, with two abstentions.
A Podemos faction known as Anticapitalistas, which is the majority current within Podem’s leadership, quickly recognized “the new Catalan republic.”
And Podem deputy Àngels Martínez Castells on Saturday tweeted a welcome message to “the republic” and stated that “the president of the Catalan republic is Carles Puigdemont” despite the fact that he had by then been sacked as part of the emergency measures included in Article 155.
Meanwhile, the early election announced by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is proving to be another source of friction.
Parties have until November 7 to register as a coalition and campaign as such. Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias wants Podem to merge with the leftist group Catalunya En Comú, and the central leadership on Sunday held an emergency meeting to approve polling Podem members about this move.
Podem grassroots members will be asked “Do you support having Podem run in the December 21 election in Catalonia in coalition with Catalunya en Comú and sister forces that support neither the declaration of independence nor the application of 155?”
But Podem held a meeting of its own and concluded that the December 21 election cannot be considered “normal.” On Saturday, Fachin stated that he does not support running “just to scratch four seats” and added that it is “a contradiction” to participate in the election unless a joint strategy is encouraged to respect the spirit of October 1.
English version by Susana Urra.