GUEST BLOG: Te Reo Putake – Catalonia; Why the Left does not support Puigdemont


One of the less covered aspects of the nationalist struggle for Catalonian independence is the fact that the left, for the most part, does not support ousted President Carles Puigdemont.

Puigdemont leads a minority centre right Government that has been steadily losing popularity. His Junts pel Sí party is itself a coalition of factions from the far left to the Christian right. It is propped up by the CUP, a left nationalist party that is the smallest in the Catalan Parliament.

The government is legitimate; however, it is not popular on the left.

There are many reasons why the wider left does not currently support the wantaway republic.

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Primarily, it’s because independence offers little to the working class. The move to leave is promoted mainly by the rich. They see profit in a new republic which would retain strong industrial and tourism revenues.

The working class of Catalonia is not overwhelmingly of Catalonian heritage. In the Franco years, Barcelona was flooded by ethnic Spanish workers seeking a better life. Generations on, Catalonia is as much Spanish as it is Catalan.

That’s an uncomfortable fact for some, however it is regularly reflected in polls on independence that almost always show the majority are happy with the current arrangement of autonomy within the wider Spanish state. Even the recent referendum, hobbled as it was by the Spanish state, only indicated support for the breakaway from a third of voters.

Nationalism, whether it’s from the left or the right, is always fraught with danger. For us on the left, we need to take a calm, reasoned view of events in Catalonia. The response of the Spanish state is not Francoism returned and Puigdemont is definitely not Lluis Companys.

Put simply, these are not revolutionary times in Catalonia.

A genuine independence may well come someday, in some form not yet known, however, it will only succeed if it takes all citizens with it.

We cannot trust the right to deliver real independence for Catalonia or anywhere else.


Te Reo Putake – Socialist, vegetarian, contrarian and footballer


  1. True, it’s not a perfect equivalency, but the left vs right divide is the closest issue people can identify with… though in Spain’s case the issue is also somewhat more… poignant due to the recent actions in the Spanish civil war.

    Just to clarify on a few things, from what I know Catalonia is somewhat semi-autonomous already. It already has it’s own government with various powers, and it’s own police force, judicial systems and various government agencies. A lot of what they need is already in place.

    As for the reserves in Cataluñan banks, they’re in the banks, which are private corporations. The reserves can be withdrawn unless the Catalonians do something quite crazy. Not to mention that those reserves belong to Spain as a whole, so in many circumstances they’d be split between Catalonia and the rest of Spain, because the old Spain doesn’t really exist any more if Catalonia withdraws.

    Also, from personal experience, nearly all big businesses are against any large social change. In the current climate, the big businesses are on top and doing well. Any change to the status quo has the potential to knock them off that top spot, so they usually immensely conservative when asked about big social change.

    If things ever went that far, Spain would go down the toilet remarkably fast regardless of what happens on the ground.

    Spanish sovereign debt is the most mispriced in the entire world. This sort of thing would quickly lead the market to correct that.

    So even if Catalan was to move from semi sovereignty to full sovereignty. They’ll likely remain citizens of Spain and the EU.

  2. Except for one thing – the Spanish State’s repression. You can oppose secession and independence from a Left platform, but once you support, or even allow for neutrality towards the Spanish state’s repression of the movement, I don’t think you can call youself ‘Left’ any more.

    And this creates a problem when it comes to the referendum. Decrying it for illegitimacy when people were assaulted by the state for trying to vote is akin to getting fired for ‘poor productivity’ after your computer was taken to with a sledgehammer by the same arsehole who’s firing you.

  3. If the overall historical case and popular support for Catalan independence are legitimate, then it’s legitimate. If it’s not well founded historically and there’s no popular support, then it’s a movement which is unlikely to succeed. The fact that right wing politicians are more popular than left wing politicians among those who want to leave Spain is immaterial. I might prefer left wing politics, but deciding the legitimacy of major democratic issues on the basis of whether or not ‘our’ side would benefit is kind of a slippery slope.

    • I might prefer left wing politics, but deciding the legitimacy of major democratic issues on the basis of whether or not ‘our’ side would benefit is kind of a slippery slope.

      Indeed, Jones.

      I feel uncomfortable when (some?) leftists from other nations decry a local movement for independence. It is not for others to determine what Catalonians want or need. That is for Catalonians themselves to determine.

      The only matter of concern for the International Left is that the rights of minorities are respected at all times.

      • You too are on to it as usual.

        I bid them the best of luck. And I hope when the dust settles, they keep that flag of theirs.

        Those Tri-coloured flags are so representative of everything that was wrong with imperialism. And the yearning to make Europe great again. Only this time the lords aren’t what they used to be. Good luck to them.

      • I am in full agreement Frank. And it is a great pity that the U.S.,Saudi Arabia , Qatar,France, Britain,Turkey,Russia,Iran, Hezbollah, and Israel,stayed out of and stopped interfering in Syria, and left just the Syrian people to sort it all out !

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