Republican Left of Catalonia
1. About Us
Esquerra Republicana is a Catalan political left-wing party defined as social democratic, in favour of the independence of the Catalan Countries, including Catalonia, Valencia, and Balearic and Pityusic Islands.
The current top leaders are Oriol Junqueras, as a President, and Marta Rovira, as a General Secretary. Les Juventuts d’Esquerra Republicana (JERC) deals with all the matters concerning the youth population.
Currently, ERC is the second political force in the Catalan Parliament, with 496.292 votes and 21 members, obtained in the autonomous election on 25th November of 2012. Esquerra Republicana also has 3 members in the Spanish Congress of Deputies, 1 in the Senate, 145 mayors and mayoresses and 1.397 city councillors.
2. Organisation of Esquerra Republicana
President of Esquerra Republicana: Oriol Junqueras
Secretary General: Marta Rovira
National Congress: the sovereign body of the party formed by all militants. This is held every four years and sets the party line. It chooses the Presidency, the Secretary General, the vice secretary generals and the national secretaries.
National Council: the top decision–making body between congresses, it adjusts the party policy according to the line established by the previous National Congress.
National Conference: this updates the political strategy approved by the last National Congress or the last National Conference.
National Executive: the daily direction and administration of the party, meeting once a fortnight.
National Permanent: takes emergency decisions when the other bodies are unable to meet.
In the territorial area, Esquerra Republicana is organised with a structure expressed through local sections, local regional and regional federations. The territorial federations are the decision-making bodies in Valencia, the Balearic and Pitiüses islands, as well as northern Catalonia. All of the militants form part of these bodies.
On the sector level, there are national secretaries of specific areas which have the support of sector commissions.
3. How we are funded
In Esquerra Republicana, we develop our political task thanks to the incomes that we get by:
-Public subsidies according to the election results and to the number of representatives we have in the legislatives Chambers and City Councils.
-Public officer’s support.
Annually, the Catalonian Court of Auditors and the Spanish Court of Audit supervises and audits our accounts.
4. Principal ideological postulates
Esquerra Republicana proposes the building of an independent state for the Catalan nation as part of Europe and the achievement of a fairer and more supportive society without inequalities between people and territories.
Esquerra Republicana defines itself as a non-dogmatic republican, democratic and left-wing party focused on the defence of pluralism, human rights and the rights of peoples and the environment. Esquerra Republicana is the principal party on the national left wing and has never depended on political forces from outside the Catalan nation.
From an economic and social viewpoint, Esquerra Republicana bases its ideology and political action on defending the interests of the productive sectors and popular classes. Workers, liberal professionals, the self-employed, small and medium–sized companies, farmers, fishermen, etc. are all the basis of the productive economy so basic for a country’s development.
Esquerra Republicana watches out for the productive economy while respecting the individual and collective fruit of work. On the other hand, the speculative and financial economy must be controlled by the state so that they might remain at the service of the productive economy.
In the very difficult situation of the present crisis, it is necessary to maintain the welfare state and to defend the social advances achieved in the 20th century. The welfare state cannot be limited to assistentialism and to managing capitalism, but must also contribute to distributing wealth. The public sector must assume the essential public services in order to compensate the social inequalities and to guarantee the operation of the economy at the service of most of the population.
Esquerra Republicana also defends a change in the model of production and consumption that respects the planet’s ecological limits and is acceptable to all communities living there. Efficiency in the use of energy and natural resources, reduction of waste and the preservation of biodiversity are the basic political goals in the area of sustainable development.
Esquerra Republicana defends the republican form of state because it is the best guarantee for the exercise of democracy and legitimating power. Democratic quality and participatory democracy form an intrinsic part of republican values.
Esquerra Republicana understands democracy as the permanent commitment to deepen in the participation of citizens in the collective decision–making. It is there fore necessary to transform the present representative democracy into a democracy that also has mechanisms for direct participation. The exercise of democracy from the local level is inherent to such goals.
Despite the theoretical recognition of individual rights, broad sectors of society see themselves violated for reasons of sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, illness, language, culture, ethnic group, opinion, religion, nationality or for other reasons. It is therefore necessary to go further in defending the rights of all people and against any form of discrimination. Only from equal opportunities for one and all and non–discrimination can a true democracy be built.
Esquerra Republicana proposes the creation of an independent state for the Catalan nation as part of Europe and through the peaceful and democratic exercise of the right to self–determination. The achievement of a state is a necessary tool for achieving maximum economic well–being and social justice for the majority of citizens. In this sense, the tax imbalance between the Catalan nation and the Spanish state and the fact that it is impossible to access the resources produced by the citizens of the Catalan Lands prevent these objectives from being achieved.
The Catalan nation is formed by different political subjects whose historical and social nature, with their own institutions and states of awareness, has meant that they work at different rates. Just as Esquerra Republicana proposes the right of the people of Catalina to decide to form an independent republic, it also proposes the application of the right to decide to Northern Catalonia and each of the Balearic Islands regarding their adhesion to the future Republic of Catalonia. Esquerra Republicana also defends the creation of a País Valencià state that would end up federating with the other territories in order to form a federal-type republic (Northern Catalonia in France, Valencia Region and Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera).
Faithful to its republican tradition, Esquerra Republicana conceives the Catalan nation as a civic space which bases its bonding on its will to be and on the project of a shared future. Therefore, in the case of Catalonia, all people living in Catalonia and who want to be Catalans are considered Catalan, regardless of their place of birth, the language they speak, their family origin, ethnic group or religion.
5. Our history
5.1 The beginnings and the Republic
Esquerra Republicana is a left-wing party which defends the independence of the Catalan nation and social justice. Founded in 1931, throughout its more than 80 years of history it has experienced very different fortunes in parallel to the recent history of Catalonia and the whole of the Catalan Lands, or Països Catalans (Catalonia, Northern Catalonia, Valencia Region, Balearic Islands and the Western Strip).
The origins of Esquerra Republicana lie in the republican and federal movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The way in which Catalan society transformed in the 19th century as a result of the Industrial Revolution caused the appearance of the first democratic and republican progressist and federalist social movements. At the same time, the Renaissance cultural and literary movement of the early 19th-century started the development of a national awareness closely followed by European Romanticism. Politically, the federal republican Congress in 1883 and the establishment of the Bases of Manresa in 1892 were the first two Catalan political movements with clearly national intentions.
In March 1931, at the end of Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) appeared as a confluence of the nationalist and left-wing sectors aiming to form a common front before a Spanish state contrary to the interests of the Catalan popular classes and blocked in the past. The new party presided by Francesc Macià resulted from the union of Estat Català, the Partit Republicà Català and the group Opinió, and played a central role in the establishment of the Republic in Catalonia and Spain. The most important elements of the ideas behind the new party were the recognition of Catalonia as a nation, the defence of the individual rights of man and the redistribution of wealth, whereas the social programme defended full union freedom, the right to strikes, the defence of minimum salaries, the eight-hour working day, compulsory holidays, insurance and retirements as well as work schools.
In the municipal elections of April 1931, ERC was victorious in Catalonia and Francesc Macià proclaimed the Catalan Republic. The republican forces won throughout the state, with which Macià negotiated the new self-government of Catalonia. Macià agreed to restore the Generalitat de Catalunya, the name of the institution of Catalan government suppressed in 1714, and the Catalan Statute of Autonomy was approved, which included some of the institutions of self–government lost by Catalonia in the War of Succession (1705-1714).
In the years of the Republic (1931-1939), ERC was overwhelming the majority party in Catalonia and won all of the elections that were held. Francesc Macià died in 1933 and was succeeded by Lluís Companys as the President of the Generalitat de Catalunya, or Government of Catalonia. Companys proclaimed the Catalan state in 1934 in a context of involution of the Spanish right wing and risk of a military coup. As a result, Companys was imprisoned and the Generalitat was abolished, until the victory of the Front d’Esquerres in 1936 brought him out of prison.
5.2 The Civil War and the dictatorship
Though failing in Catalonia, the uprising of the Spanish military against the democratic order of the Second Republic started the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). During these years, Lluís Companys was the President of the Generalitat and ERC played a key role in the Generalitat government along with other political and social forces.
The victory of General Franco’s troops brought the war to an end and started a bloody dictatorship inspired in fascism. President Lluís Companys was arrested by the Gestapo in France and handed over to the Spanish government, which put him before the firing squad on the mountain of Montjuïc in October 1940 in an unprecedented action. He is the only president of a democratically elected government in the world ever to be executed.
Esquerra Republicana suffered the repression of the Francoist dictatorship (1939–1975) just like the whole of Catalan society. Half of the 70,000 ERC militants sought exile and a quarter were imprisoned, executed or killed in the war. ERC set up the government in exile and maintained a very small clandestine activity in Catalonia, consisting of participating in all united initiatives of opposition to the dictatorship.
In a more minority manner, in the seventies the first formulae appeared of a modern Marxist independence movement inspired in the colonial national freedom movements. These tendencies ended up shaping numerous independentist and left–wing organisations of different political shades which came together to form Esquerra Republicana in the nineties.
5.3 The transition and autonomy
The severity of the political and social repression and the demographic, social and economic changes experienced by Catalan society virtually caused the disappearance of the party. In 1977, in the first elections after the dictatorship, ERC was not able to take part directly as it had not been legalised. In Catalonia and throughout the Spanish state, a new system of parties appeared and ERC played a very small role in comparison with the hegemony of the 1930s. The new political forces drew up and defended a Spanish constitution against which ERC voted because it failed to accept the republican principles or the people’s right to self-determination.
The so-called Spanish democratic transition consisted of an agreement between the remains of Francoism and the democratic opposition. The Francoist regime was not officially condemned, even though it had risen up against the democratic regime of the Second Republic. There was no recognition of the victims of the dictatorial repression and nobody has yet to be judged for the crimes committed by Francoism or for its breach of individual and collective human rights.
The most flagrant example appears in the trial of President Companys, which the Spanish state has repeatedly refused to annul. In addition to expressing a total lack of procedural guarantees, the very brief war trial which condemned him to the firing squad was a condemnation of democracy and the whole of the Catalan people. At the end of 2013, ERC brought a suit against the Spanish state before Argentine justice, accusing it of crimes against humanity for the assassination of the president of the Republican Generalitat government. The lawsuit was admitted and a further 200 suits were added for those murdered by the Francoist regime. The ignorance of historical memory was one of the basic features of the transition agreement, unlike the processes of historical review made in Germany, Italy and South Africa.
With President Tarradellas’s return from exile, the Generalitat government was restored and a new statute of autonomy was drawn up for Catalonia. ERC opposed the text as something which gave little support to autonomy, but ended up defending the yes vote in the referendum. In the first elections to the Catalan Parliament after the dictatorship, ERC achieved 14 of the 135 members, although in successive elections it fell off severely and lost its representation in the Chambers of Madrid. The centre-right wing Convergència i Unió, which has won all of the Catalan elections, led the creation and consolidation of the autonomic institutions through agreements with the different governments of Madrid.
In the 1990s, ERC strengthened its position as an independentist party by proposing the creation of an independent state as part of Europe. Gathering together the different political sectors of the independentist movement, it progressively increased its electoral weight and was consolidated as the third political force behind the central-right wing Convergència i Unió (CiU) and the Partit dels Socialistes de Catalonia (PSC–PSOE) Socialist party. On the municipal level, it also achieved a broad representation of councillors and mayors throughout Catalonia.
In the late 1990s, the independentist discourse took on a greater social slant, reaching new social sectors previously removed from the party. This brought ERC up to 545,000 votes and 23 members in the Catalan parliament, the best result since the Republic. At the same time, the party’s decisive position enabled the creation of the first Catalanist and left-wing government since the Republic along with the Partit dels Socialistes de Catalonia (PSC-PSOE) and Iniciativa per Catalonia-Verds (ICV) parties. It was also in 2003 when Esquerra Republicana del País Valencià (ERPV) appeared locally in the Valencia Region and achieved its first councillors in Sueca, Xixona and Barxeta.
In Catalonia, the so-called tripartit (three–party) government put forward a broad social programme whose main goal was the reformation of the Catalan Statute of Autonomy and the financing system of the Generalitat government. ERC played a decisive role in this government and held several ministries (Education, Welfare and Family, Trade, Governance, Universities, and others).
When the Catalan parliament approved the Statute with a broad consensus, the agreement between the CiU and the PSOE in Madrid had it considerably curtailed on its way through the Spanish governmental process. In the referendum for its approval, ERC called for a vote against it, bringing the party out of the government and causing early elections.
Though losing votes, Esquerra Republicana achieved an important result in these elections (416,000 votes and 21 seats) and the «progress pact» was repeated with PSC-PSOE and ICV-EUiA. In the following elections in 2010, the electorate punished the ERC, which lost almost half of its votes with respect to 2006 (219,000) and eleven seats and these results were repeated in the different elections. CiU returned to the Generalitat government after 7 years in the opposition.
At the same time, in 2007, Esquerra Republicana took part in association in the autonomic elections in the Balearic Islands; in Majorca with PSM, IU and Els Verds and in Ibiza with PSOE, IU and ENE. In addition to several municipal representatives, these elections gave Esquerra Republicana a representative in the Parliament of the Balearic Islands and an elected Councillor in the Majorca Council (Consell de Mallorca). The forces of progress achieved a majority that enabled several Esquerra Republicana representatives to be in the autonomic government, the government of the Consell de Mallorca and the government of Palma. In December 2009, Esquerra Republicana left the government of the island of Majorca when its partners broke the pact of government and the code of ethics approved by the forces of progress, when corruption affected one of its associates.
5.4 The process towards independence
With the arrival of Oriol Junqueras as the President of Esquerra Republicana in 2011, a new stage of unity was started in which Esquerra Republicana works with civil society to achieve the objective of Catalan independence. The enormous demonstration on 11 September 2012 in Barcelona, organised by the Catalan National Assembly, triggered the calling of elections on 25 November and started a new stage marked by the right to decide on the political agenda.
Esquerra Republicana obtained 496,000 votes in these elections and became the second block in the Parliament with 21 seats. These results made Oriol Junqueras the head of the opposition and allowed an agreement to be signed with CiU to give parliamentary support to the government of Artur Mas. The main aim of this agreement is to call a popular consultation for self-determination in 2014 and to bring social change into the policy of economic austerity of the Generalitat.