Catalan United Socialist Party


Catalan United Socialist Party
   The Catalan United Socialist Party, better known by its acronym PSUC (Partit Socialista Unificat de Catalunya), was formed during the early days of the Civil War with the encouragement of the Communist International. However, it was not recognized by the PSOE (Socialist Workers Party). The PSUC was nominally independent of the PCE (Spanish Communist Party), but tended to be subservient to it and to the Stalinist Communist International. The PSUC was involved on the side of the Moscow-backed Communists in their repression of Anarchists and Trotskyists during the events of May 1937 in Barcelona, which are vividly described in George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia (1939). Despite their ostensibly Catalan identity, the PSUC sided with the centralizing forces in the Republican Government.
   After the end of the Civil War, the PSUC, like other left-wing groupings, suffered from Francoist repression. Its influence, however, grew during the 1960s, particularly in the Barcelona branch of the newly-formed CC OO (Workers" Committees). The success of CC OO all over Spain in the late 1960s and early 1970s was reflected in considerable working-class support for both the PCE and the PSUC.
   As in all radical working-class movements in potentially nationalist situations, there was always a tension within PSUC as to whether they were primarily a Catalanist or a working-class party. In a book in 1967, Jordi Solé Tura, who later left the party and became a Minister of Culture under Felipe González, equated Catalanism with bourgeois values, which he naturally considered to be incompatible with socialism. However, through their opposition to Franco, and their success at building mass working-class movements, whether through trade unionism or the important residents" associations, the PSUC gained widespread grass-root support in Catalonia. They are also credited with avoiding a split between native Catalans and the large numbers of working-class immigrants from the south of Spain who arrived in Catalonia during the 1960s and the 1970s. The PSUC was rewarded with an 18.2 percent share of the vote in the 1977 General Elections.
   After that date, however, their electoral strength declined sharply. The attempt by the leader of the PCE, Santiago Carrillo, to impose his Eurocommunism on the PSUC was rejected by the 1981 Congress. This completely split the PSUC, and led to its irrevocable decline, which was heightened by the demise of the PCE and by the feeling among the working classes that a vote for the PSOE or the PSC (Catalan Socialist Party) was tactically more useful than one for the PSUC. Following their disastrous performance at the 1982 General Election (4.6 percent of the vote), Antoni Gutiérrez resigned as the party's General Secretary and was replaced by Rafael Ribó. The latter was the moving force behind the formation in 1987 of the Initiative for Catalonia Coalition (IC), which has enjoyed some limited success at recent elections.
   Further reading
   - Balcells, A. (1996) Catalan Nationalism, ed. G.J. Walker, Basingstoke: Macmillan (contains an analysis of the role of the PSUC in Catalonia).
   DAVID GEORGE

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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