Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Esquerra v.s. CUP

The movement CUP (Candidatura d’Unitat Popular) and ERC have a lot in common. They both want independence for Catalonia, they fight to defend the Catalan language and culture and share values on social policy and economic organisation. However, for the coming elections CUP calls on people not to vote. They disagree with the political class of today and especially with those politicians who claim that they want power for the sake of Catalonia, but end up supporting the centralist oppression of society here (read ERC).

Probably wary not to stir up a conflict with potential voters, ERC is surprisingly passive in answering the criticism from CUP. Instead, they highlight what can be the consequences of non-participation among left-wing voters. In a YouTube clip, ERC is currently sending out a warning that, due to the Spanish electoral system, as little as a 1.000 votes can make a difference in the province of Girona. One of the seats which ERC currently holds, might end up with PP.

CUP is strong in Vilanova. In the municipal elections 2007 they could celebrate that Eduard Pinilla won a seat as a town councillor. How can the same CUP now claim that non-participation in elections is a way to reveal their lack of legitimacy? Let us remember that Pinilla's success came in elections where only 52% of the electoral roll cared to go to the polls. The Catalan participation in the elections to the Spanish parliament will easily beat that, so which ones are more legitimate?

In his work Dirty Hands (Les Mains Sales), Jean Paul Sartre lets Hoederer ask Hugo:

How you cling to your purity… Purity is an idea that belongs to a fakir or a monk. You intellectuals, you bourgeois anarchists, you make it an excuse for doing nothing. For doing nothing, for resting still, with your elbows glued to your sides, wearing gloves. My hands are dirty. Right to the shoulders. I have plunged them in mud and blood… Do you imagine you can govern innocently?

Although I do not particularly agree with ERC’s program, I consider that they do the right thing in accepting the realities of politics. You have to compromise in case you want to achieve something here and now.

CUP’s alternative is to replace the existing Spanish institutions with new ones for the Catalan Countries (els Països Catalans), probably a vision attractive also to ERC voters. But even if ERC and CUP join forces they are a minority in Catalonia and so their new society remains a dream for a distant future. Until they reach there, is CUP convinced that splitting the Catalan left is what they really want to do?

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