About the PSOE, the PSC and Federalism


PhD in Political Science. Lecturer at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos


Whenever differences arise between the PSOE and the PSC on the national question, the PSOE proposes the Spanish people a reform in a federal sense of the State's territorial layout. The story has repeated itself in Granada, home of the last meeting of the Territorial Council of the PSOE. Given the ambiguous position expressed by the PSC before the sovereign challenge led by CIU, the PSOE has again proclaimed its faith in federalism as a principle of territorial organisation.

However, federalism is far from being the magical formula which, as the balm of Fierabras, will put an end to the PSOE's problems on territorial planning. Once again, the socialists take their photo united around the idea of a constitutional reform in a federal sense, thereupon re-airing the deep disagreements about what each Socialist baron understands by federalism. Differences that reach their peak when it comes to equating the PSC's idea of federalism with that of the rest of the Spanish socialists.

It should be noted that while the PSOE and the PSC share a socialist-family resemblance, they are different parties. Furthermore, they stem from different ideological traditions. Therefore, when both parties talk of federalism they are actually talking about different political principles. The Socialist Party has never been a federalist party --it already explicitly rejected federalism in the Second Republic--, but has rather been a workers' party with a national vocation that never quite managed to effectively establish itself in Catalonia, not even after the Transition. The history of the PSC, however, is the story of a party that was born Catalanist rather than socialist. The PSC takes root in the socialist nationalism of the Unió Socialista de Catalunya. A party, the USC, which was actually created from a split of the PSOE's Catalan Federation in 1924 due to the disagreements that arose around the Catalan question in the crisis of the Restoration. It goes without saying, therefore, that for the PSC Catalonia is a sovereign subject placed on an equal footing to Spain. And this explains why, when the PSC talks about federalism, it is not actually talking about a federal State, but a bilateral agreement between Spain and Catalonia as foundational subjects of a confederal State.

The PSOE has spent a decade committed to federalism as the virtuous solution between the "centralist temptation and the separatist temptation". In fact, behind the federal option, there is no federalism at all, except the urgency of neutralising a PSC that is increasingly Catalanist by assuming their political theses. Thus, the PSOE shows that the only solution that it is capable of devising in order to look like a national party entails the forcing of a constitutional amendment that adapts the territorial layout of the State to the own nature of the relationship between the PSOE and PSC. That is, as it cannot do the opposite, shape the State as the party.