Some political parties try to change their profile and present new ideas to win votes. For PSC, the Catalan sister party ot Zapatero’s PSOE, it is the other way around. The electorate's support for them is stronger than ever – in the latest elections to the Spanish parliament, four of five new seats for the socialists were won in Catalonia and, at the Generalitat, Montilla manages to hold together his tripartit government, in spite of internal convulsions within his coalition partner Esquerra – but what are their visions for the future?
This weekend I thought that I would have a chance to learn more, since PSC held their congress, but I was disappointed. For example, to remedy the current crisis, it is well known that they want to invest more in infrastructure, but what progress can be made as long as they rule together with parties which are firmly against the planned fourth ringroad around Barcelona and the high-tension connection with France (el quart cinturó and la línia de molt alta tensió (MAT), respectively, in Catalan)?
Instead, media as well as the party’s own web-page seem to focus on the allegedly firm message which Montilla sent to Zapatero: That the Catalan socialists like him but that they like Catalonia even more. That PSC are discontent with what they have seen from Spanish finance minister Pedro Solbes’ draft on how to change the allocation of public funds between the autonomous communities. And that Zapatero must stand up for the statute of autonomy of Catalonia (l’estatut) since he is taking pride for being one of its creators.
During the congress, PSC decided to continue to form part of the socialist group of the Spanish Parliament, and not to create a separate one. Critics interpret this as a signal that the party does not want to be independent from PSOE but, personally, I do not care much about such symbols in politics. Instead, I look forward to the coming discussions on the public finances.
PSC is in charge of a Catalonia which has a big and growing budget deficit, but at the same time transfers a lot of money to other autonomous communities, which receive funds since they are considered poor but still manage to run surpluses in their budgets. To make the central governments’ allocation models more generous to Catalonia might not be Zapatero’s dream project, but for PSC it is a necessity and absolutely in its own interest. Today, representatives of PSC and the main Catalan opposition group, CiU, will meet up to try to agree on a common Catalan approach for the coming negotiations in Madrid.
To sum up, the congress did not answer whether PSC will dare to mark their independence from PSOE, but the coming few months will. And Montilla will have to reveal his sympathies – are they with Zapatero or, above all, with the citizens of Catalonia?
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Related media: LaVanguardia 1, 2, 3; Avui 1, 2, 3
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Technorati tags: CiU, Catalonia, Montilla, PSOE, PSC, Spain, Zapatero,