PSOE and Anti-Federal Federalism


Professor of Language and Literature and journalist


The documents resulting from the socialist summit in Granada, "Un nuevo pacto territorial: la España de todos" and "Hacia una estructura federal del Estado" are the latest episode of the impossible labyrinth in which the PSOE has been trapped for more than thirty years: a labyrinth which aims to link the traditional egalitarianism of the left, their hallmark during the period in which workers were their main concern, and their ghostly bait since becoming, albeit still unconfessed, a bourgeois party; and what we will call 'differentialism', the assumption of nationalist doctrines (anti-egalitarian, defenders of historical rights, territorial privileges and differential facts) to which they were dragged to by some of their federations and, above all, by their awkwardly asymmetrical confederation with the PSC.

Surely nothing reflects better what they are proposing for Spain than their relationship with the Catalan Socialist Party, to which they gave the millions of votes from Spanish workers in the rest of Spain who, throughout the twentieth century, filled the outskirts of Barcelona to meet their development needs. Development of Catalonia and, therefore, of Spain. That relationship does not fit anymore in an asymmetrical federalism, small nonsense before the evidence that it is not even an alliance between sovereign parties, a confederal one but in equal terms. No. To begin with, the PSC gets to participate and decide about everything that affects the PSOE. But the other party, the PSOE, cannot participate in anything that the PSC decides. As calling it an 'awkwardly asymmetrical confederation' is insufficient we will have to term it outright submission.

Reading both documents therefore puts us in a situation of flagrant contradictions, an attempt to sew a split of opposites that a softy language fails to hide. The funny thing is that the PSOE, early in this 21st century, emerged as the exemplary embodiment of the debate that occupied the origins of Catalanism, when they still did not know whether they were or wanted to be a region, a nation or a state. And, above all, when they argued and theorised about Spain, as they are the ones that have done so the most. Indeed, in those early days, the Catalan question was whether Spain was a nation which should organise itself in States, following the most pure federal concept, tested in 1873 with the results we all know; or if Spain was a state comprising various nations, which is the idea that eventually took hold in the twentieth century, with its legal status reflected in the last Estatut or Catalonia's charter.

The 'Estatut' was, indeed, the previous episode of the endless battle taking place inside the PSOE between federalism and nationalism. Nationalism triumphed as Zapatero's payment to Maragall, and the little resistance it awakened was reversed with the guarantee of a red carpet and official car for those still reluctant. What has happened in Granada is a renewal of that payment of feudal flavour, as the proposal is ultimately the same as always: an oxymoron, a differentialist federalism that aims to satisfy the PSC, proposing an amendment to the Constitution that comprises everything the Catalan party believes would allow them to regain their status as a soft nationalism alternative: that the Constitution, nothing less, comprises the 'differential' inequalities, language immersion, funding ordinality (which entails, ultimately, the end of the nation, in order to make it a result of the regions, and not the origin of them) and a hierarchy between communities which even has the nerve to ignore Castille and Aragon as 'historical-political' entities.

And to top it all, after all these pirouettes, the PSC has said it will continue voting what it pleases regardless of what the PSOE may say. It usually happens, and the parties should reflect on it at this time, that when you abjure all, you end up losing everything.