The CUP has dissected itself. The left-wing Catalan pro-independence Popular Unity Candidature party has carried out a day-long assembly in the Catalan town of Celrà which, in fact, will continue for days to come. The party is immersed in a process of mutation, as a result of its conclusion that the end of a political cycle has been reached, with the consequent need to adapt to that and "become a useful tool" for Catalonia. The extraordinary party assembly on Sunday drew 390 members who discussed how to fight the resignation which has taken hold in the the independence movement, and to do so without abandoning principles, but rather, asserting them more seductively. Because the conclusion of the party is that "we want and need to be more".
Some of those attending called it the most important CUP event in recent years. The far-left party faces a major challenge: renewing its strategy to adapt to the post-October 2017 era, with the referendum and independence declaration of that month now forced into the past not only by the events since then, but also by the party's own poor electoral results recently. Everything is to based on a maxim of learning from mistakes and improving on successes. According to the CUP's own analysis, among the mistakes made has been an approach of permanent blockage without providing constructive proposals, and as for the party's successes, the exercising of governmental responsibilities it has carried out locally, on many town councils.
At noon on Sunday, the party committee charged with drafting its proposal, headed by known figures such as deputy Carles Riera and ex-deputy Eulàlia Reguant, presented its plan to the membership with a key message: "Here, everyone is necessary, no-one is surplus to needs, we are the ones who don't give in, that's why we want to be more and need to be more, we have to reach other sectors," said Reguant.
On how this is to be done, Riera emphasized the importance of "avoiding victimism" and "combating the resignation that comes from those who believe that now is the time to rebuild bridges with the State, establish a false dialogue and return to the consensus of the prehistoric times of the Catalan oasis". It is, he says, all about "proposing an ambitious proposal not based on repudiating ideas or rhetorical and symbolic discourses that don't transform reality. Rather, we have to build an alternative to those who refuse to break through the glass ceilings." And he paraphrased one of the CUP slogans, "We want independence in order to change everything," to illustrate the change in course that the party is now proposing: "We want to change everything in order to achieve independence." The renewed road map maintains the party's strategic goals: "independence, socialism, feminism, ecology".
Throughout the afternoon, grassroots members split into working groups to discuss both the draft paper and the amendments proposed by different territorial assemblies. However, there will still be work to complete the final document, incorporating the changes proposed by the party base before the final vote on approval, which will be on July 28th. But as sources at the assembly confirmed to ElNacional.cat, the sensation is that beyond some corrections, the principles of the draft text proposed will be maintained. On an earlier initiative to substitute the draft in its entirety, the sources explain that although that won't be voted on until July 28, it has now been discredited and seems unlikely to prosper, given the way the debate developed at the meeting.
The thorniest point: joining the Catalan government (or not)
A good part of the 41 amendments presented by the party's territorial divisions offered different types of objections to the possibility of actively becoming part of the Catalan government. Realizing that many CUP members screwed up their noses at the idea of joining and taking over the reins of the country's government, Carles Riera asserted that "we'll never be anyone's crutch helping to hold up an Autonomous government" - that is, a government in the current Spanish regional regime. And he explained that the objective is to replicate at Catalan level the work being done at municipal level, where "the CUP already governs in many municipalities", because "we are not afraid to govern."
It seems that the definitive option will be to leave the door open to a future entry into the Catalan executive but with an important list of conditions on governing programmes. Beyond that, the strategic change in course also involves mellowing its role as staunch opposition to the current Torra government. Thus, the party undertakes to try and overcome the attitude of frontal blockage adopted over the last year, a "logic of confrontation" that the CUP itself recognizes has not had the desired effects and has not been understood by part of the electorate. Instead it plans to act with a more proactive and collaborative spirit. If a law proposed by the government does not appeal, the goal now will not only be to challenge it but also to propose alternative proposals in a positive way, as is being done with the current Llei Aragonés.
Until now, the CUP party statutes have dictated that elected officials at levels higher than municipal level, that is, the party's parliamentary deputies, could only stay in power for a single four-year term, which is what governments and parliaments used to last for, usually, until the independence process began, a decade ago already.
During this Sunday's debate on organizational aspects, the membership agreed to make this restriction more flexible. An amendment was accepted lengthening the period of time for which a CUP deputy can hold a seat, which will now be two legislatures. Thus, unlike what happened in the eras of former CUP deputies David Fernàndez and Anna Gabriel, the party's deputies will now be able to stand for re-election once, reinforcing the leadership of the party. Incidentally, the exiled Gabriel took part in the afternoon debates via videoconference.
The assembly also decided not to increase membership quotas nor the contributions to be made by municipal groups. This had been one of the possible options for compensating for the loss of income that the party has suffered due to its poor electoral results, amounting to almost half a million euros. Instead, an alternative means will be used, which is to reduce the party structure, that is to say, that contracts for paid party workers will be discontinued as they come up for renewal, many of them between December and March.