Popular Unity Candidates

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Popular Unity Candidates
Candidatura d'Unitat Popular
Spokesperson David Fernàndez i Ramos
Founded 1986 (1986)
Headquarters Plaça de Gispert, 4, 1r; Barcelona
Newspaper InfoCUP
Student wing SEPC
Youth wing Arran
Ideology Catalan Independentism
Libertarian socialism
Direct democracy[1]
Political position Left-wing
Trade union affiliation Coordinadora Obrera Sindical (COS)
Colors ‹See Tfm›     Yellow (#FFED00)
‹See Tfm›     Red (#B2071B)
‹See Tfm›     Black (#000000)
‹See Tfm›     White (#FFFFFF)[2]
Local Government in Catalonia
382 / 9,077
Local Government in the Valencian Community
3 / 5,742
Parliament of Catalonia
3 / 135
Politics of Catalonia
Political parties

The Popular Unity Candidates (Catalan: Candidatura d'Unitat Popular, CUP) are a radical left-wing pro-Catalan independence political party active in the Catalan Countries. The CUP have traditionally concentrated on municipal politics, and are made up of a series of autonomous candidatures that run in local elections. Their presence is the strongest in Catalonia proper.

In 2012, the CUP decided for the first time to run for Catalan parliamentary elections, gaining 3 MPs out of 135.


The CUP are made up of autonomous local assemblies representing towns or neighbourhoods. These assemblies may have some ideological differences, but their common ground is independence for the Catalan Countries and clear left-wing politics, often in the form of eco-socialism or libertarian socialism.

The different local candidatures are coordinated through the Municipal Assembly of the Independentist Left (AMEI in Catalan) where the details regarding their party platform are discussed. On both the local and national level, decisions are made in assembly according to the principles of deliberative democracy.

The highly decentralized nature of this party stems from their belief in municipalism. The CUP consider municipal government "the only institutions within the reach of the general populace".[5] The importance given to municipal assemblies is also meant to avoid the hierarchical organization of most traditional political parties.


The CUP website describes the entity as "an assembly-based political organization spread throughout the Catalan Countries that works for a country that's independent, socialist, environmentally sustainable and free from the domination of the patriarchy".[6]

"National liberation"[edit]

The CUP defend the unity of the Catalan-speaking areas, or Catalan Countries, which they believe should be allowed to constitute an independent republic, according to the principles of self-determination. The CUP are also strongly in favor of the Catalan language, which they should be the "preferential and common language" of the areas where it is traditionally spoken. Still, the 2012 CUP program refers to the advantages of multilingualism and encourages debate on the status that an independent Catalonia would grant to French and Spanish.[7]

Political system[edit]

The CUP criticise the current political system in place in Spain and France, and defend an

A CUP political event in 2014

alternative brand of participative democracy. They have proposed, for example, that the general public be allowed to vote on important issues in referenda, and have suggested the creation of representative recall (Catalan: Iniciativa Popular Revocatòria), which would allow the general public to remove elected officials from office before their term expires.[7] As part of their belief in municipalism, they have also defended the creation of an Assembly of Councillors (Catalan: Assemblea de Regidors i Regidores Electes), made up of municipal councillors, as a national representative body.[7]


The CUP broadly refers to their economic model as socialist. Their political program calls for a "planned economy based on solidarity, aimed towards fulfilling the needs of the people", and defends the nationalization of public utilities, as well as transportation and communication networks. They also call for a nationalization of all banks receiving government bailouts and consider the public debt "illegitimate".[7]


The CUP call for an end to nuclear energy, with the use of sustainable energy in its stead. They also call for a ban on GMOs and the creation of an "ecological economy".[7]

Civil rights[edit]

The CUP believe in full civic rights for all inhabitants of the Catalan Countries, including migrants. They also call for voting rights for everyone over 16 years of age, as well as an end to descrimination against women and LGBT people.[7]


Chart showing the number of council seats won by the CUP running alone (blue) and in coalition (red)

Since 2003, the presence of the CUP in Catalan municipal politics has increased steadily.

2003 Municipal Elections[edit]

In 2003, the CUP ran alone in 10 municipalities in Catalonia, winning four council seats in three towns. In 8 more municipalities, the CUP ran as part of local coalitions.

2007 Municipal Elections[edit]

From 2007-2011, the CUP held a total of 26 council seats in 17 different municipalities in Catalonia;[8] these were obtained either under the CUP name alone or in coalition with local political parties. In the 2007 municipal elections, the CUP obtained 18,000 votes, or about 0.65% of the votes cast.[9]

2011 Municipal Elections[edit]

In the 2011 municipal elections, the CUP ran in 80 of Catalonia's 947 municipalities,[10] winning about 62,000 votes (2.16% of those cast),[11] and coming in as the 6th largest party in terms of vote share.[12] As a result, the CUP won a total of 104 municipal council seats; four towns had CUP mayors. Also, they held 11 seats on different comarca councils.

2012 Catalan parliamentary elections[edit]

David Fernández, member of the Catalan Parliament for the CUP

In 2012, after snap elections were declared by Catalan president Artur Mas, different local branches of the CUP organized assemblies open to the general public in order to debate whether the CUP should run. On October 13, the general assembly of the CUP met in Molins de Rei and decided, with 77% in favor, to run for the first time in the Catalan parliamentary elections. For this purpose, the CUP decided use the name Candidatura d'Unitat Popular – Alternativa d'Esquerres (Popular Unity Candidates – Left-Wing Alternative), in order to include independent candidates who chose to run on CUP lists.[13] David Fernàndez, a journalist from Gràcia,[14] was chosen to head the list for Barcelona.

The CUP promised that, if elected, their candidates would only serve one term, earn no more than €1,600 a month, and base their decisions on the opinions expressed by local assemblies. They also promised not to request any loans from banks, so as to avoid being influenced by "financial groups and economic élites".[5]

The CUP was able to win representation in the Catalan Parliament with three seats, and 126,219 votes. The three CUP seats went to the party's spokesman David Fernàndez, Georgina Rieradevall (number two on the list later on replaced by Isabel Vallet), and Quim Arrufat (number three on the list).[15] These results are historic for the CUP, but their spokesman emphasizes that they must keep on working and fighting in the streets for a better future.[16]

Election year # of overall votes  % of overall vote # of overall seats won +/- Notes
2012 126,219 3.5 (#7)
3 / 135

2015 Municipal Elections[edit]

In the 2015 municipal elections, the CUP presented candidatures in 163 different municipalities, more than double the number of candidatures presented in the previous elections. In Catalonia, they obtained 221,746 votes in all (7.12% percent of those cast). This was more than three times what they had won in 2011, earning them 372 council seats, an absolute majority on 9 town councils, and a relative majority in 4 more.[17] CUP mayors were chosen in 14 municipalities, whereas previously the CUP only held 3 mayorships. For the first time, the CUP won the government of the capital of a comarca, Berga.[18]

Coalitions including the CUP won important victories in other municipalities; in Badalona, Catalonia's third most populous city, a coalition including the CUP came in second and won the mayorship with the help of other left-wing parties.[19] The CUP managed to win representation in most major cities in Catalonia, including Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, Tarragona, L'Hospitalet and Terrassa.[20] In the Valencian Community, the CUP ran in four municipalities, and won seats on the municipal councils of two, Pedreguer and Burjassot.[21]


  1. ^ http://www.unitatpopular.cat/programa[dead link]
  2. ^ https://www.cup.cat/sites/default/files/manual_identitat_cup_v1-5.pdf
  3. ^ The results of Colomers (5 councillors) don't appear in the official data.
  4. ^ La CUP obté els primers regidors al País Valencià.
  5. ^ a b http://www.unitatpopular.cat/programa/principis-d-accio-politica[dead link]
  6. ^ http://cup.cat/pagina/qu%C3%A8-%C3%A9s-una-cup
  7. ^ a b c d e f http://issuu.com/cupnacional/docs/cup-programa_politic_2012?mode=window&backgroundColor=%23222222
  8. ^ http://www.vilaweb.cat/www/elpunt/noticia?p_idcmp=2914027
  9. ^ http://resultados.elpais.com/elecciones/2007/municipales/09/
  10. ^ http://www.elpuntavui.cat/noticia/article/3-politica/17-politica/415440-els-resultats-de-la-cup-els-apropen-a-lesco-al-parlament.html
  11. ^ http://elecciones.mir.es/resultados2011/99MU/DMU09999CM_L1.htm
  12. ^ Spanish Government (2011-05-23). "Local Elections Official Results". Government of Spain. Retrieved 2012-05-12. 
  13. ^ http://www.vilaweb.cat/noticia/4047042/20121013/cup-decideix-presentar-eleccions-parlament.html
  14. ^ http://blocs.mesvilaweb.cat/user/view/id/5652
  15. ^ http://www.unitatpopular.cat/candidats-i-candidates/barcelona[dead link]
  16. ^ "David Fernàndez (CUP): 'La democràcia no es defensa al parlament, sinó al carrer'" (in Catalan). VilaWeb. 2012-11-26. Retrieved 2014-10-25. 
  17. ^ http://resultadoslocales2015.interior.es/99MU/DMU09999CM_L1.htm
  18. ^ "El mapa dels alcaldes de Catalunya". Ara. 2015-06-15. Retrieved 2015-06-20. 
  19. ^ http://www.naciodigital.cat/noticia/88049/cup/entra/al/cinturo/roig/territori/estat/veu/etnicament/propi
  20. ^ http://www.naciodigital.cat/municipals2015
  21. ^ http://www.vilaweb.cat/noticia/4331953/20150525/cup-obte-primers-regidors-pais-valencia.html

External links[edit]