Popular Unity Candidacy

Popular Unity Candidacy
Candidatura d'Unitat Popular
Spokesperson Anna Gabriel
Founded 1986 (1986)
Headquarters Carrer Casp 180; Barcelona
Newspaper InfoCUP
Student wing SEPC
Youth wing Arran
Membership 1,325[1]
Ideology Catalan independence
Direct democracy[2]
Political position Left-wing to Far-left
Trade union affiliation Coordinadora Obrera Sindical (COS)
Colors      Yellow (#FFED00)
     Red (#B2071B)
     Black (#000000)
     White (#FFFFFF)[7]
Slogan Governem-nos
Local Government in Catalonia
382 / 9,077


Local Government in the Valencian Community
3 / 5,742
Parliament of Catalonia
10 / 135



The Popular Unity Candidacy (Catalan: Candidatura d'Unitat Popular, CUP) is a left, pro-Catalan independence political party active in the Catalan Countries in Spain. The CUP has traditionally focused on municipal politics, and is made up of a series of autonomous candidatures that run in local elections. Its presence is 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. In the 2015 elections they obtained 10 MPs.


CUP poster for an anti-monarchist rally

The CUP is 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 anti-capitalism, socialism, eco-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 a belief in municipalism. The CUP consider municipal government "the only institutions within the reach of the general populace".[10] 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".[11]

"National liberation"

The CUP defends 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 is also strongly in favor of the Catalan language, which 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.[12]

Political system

A CUP political event in 2014

The CUP criticise the current political system in place in Spain and France, and defend an 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.[12] 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.[12]


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".[12]


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".[12]

Civil rights

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 discrimination against women and LGBT people.[12]


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

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

From 2007-2011, the CUP held a total of 26 council seats in 17 different municipalities in Catalonia;[13] 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.[14]

2011 municipal elections

In the 2011 municipal elections, the CUP ran in 80 of Catalonia's 947 municipalities,[15] winning about 62,000 votes (2.16% of those cast),[16] and coming in as the 6th largest party in terms of vote share.[17] 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 Catalonian parliamentary elections

David Fernández, former 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 Candidacy – Left-Wing Alternative), in order to include independent candidates who chose to run on CUP lists.[18] David Fernàndez, a journalist from Gràcia,[19] 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".[10]

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).[20] 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.[21]

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

2015 municipal elections

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.[22] 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.[23]

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.[24] The CUP managed to win representation in most major cities in Catalonia, including Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, Tarragona, L'Hospitalet and Terrassa.[25] In the Valencian Community, the CUP ran in four municipalities, and won seats on the municipal councils of two, Pedreguer and Burjassot.[26]

2015 Catalonian parliamentary elections

Candidate Antonio Baños at a campaign meeting
Anna Gabriel, current spokesperson for the CUP in the Parliament of Catalonia
CUP results by municipality in the 2015 elections.

In the 2015 Parliamentary elections, the CUP formed a coalition called Candidatura d'Unitat Popular – Crida Constituent (Popular Unity Candidacy - Constituent Call). Antonio Baños, a journalist and writer from the Nou Barris neighborhood of Barcelona, was chosen to head the list.

The party won 336,375 votes, almost tripling its previous results, and was awarded 10 seats in the Catalan Parlament. That placed it in the position of kingmaker, with enough seats to form a pro-independence aliance with Together for Yes, which obtained 62 seats.[27] After three months of negotiations in which the CUP rejected the presidency of incumbent Artur Mas, the CUP and Together for Yes reached an agreement by which Carles Puigdemont, mayor of Girona, became President of Catalonia.[28] Nevertheless, while eight CUP MPs voted in favor of Puigdemont's presidency, two abstained to "express their differences" with Together for Yes. [29] As part of this agreement, two CUP MPs are to work closely with Together for Yes in order to ensure a pro-independence majority in the Parliament of Catalonia.[30]

Election year # of overall votes % of overall vote # of overall seats won +/- Notes
2015 336,375 8.20 (#6)
10 / 135


  1. May 2014
  2. https://web.archive.org/web/20121108062657/http://www.unitatpopular.cat/programa. Archived from the original on November 8, 2012. Retrieved November 12, 2012. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. Arrufat: «Les CUP treballem per construir, des de baix, els Països Catalans». dBalears | 19 juliol 2015.
  4. David Fernàndez: ‘Per a la CUP els Països Catalans són indestriables’ David Fernàndez: ‘Per a la CUP els Països Catalans són indestriables’ La Veu del País Valencià. Dimecres, 7 de maig de 2014 a les 17:00h.
  5. La CUP no vol formar part d’“aquesta” Unió Europea. El País, ANA GONZÁLEZ LISTE Barcelona 18 SET 2015 - 00:00 CEST
  6. La CUP defensa la sortida de la Unió Europea i de l’OTAN. e-noticies. 8 de Setembre de 2015. 17:27h.
  7. https://www.cup.cat/sites/default/files/manual_identitat_cup_v1-5.pdf
  8. The results of Colomers (5 councillors) don't appear in the official data.
  9. La CUP obté els primers regidors al País Valencià.
  10. 1 2 https://web.archive.org/web/20121114233648/http://www.unitatpopular.cat/programa/principis-d-accio-politica. Archived from the original on November 14, 2012. Retrieved November 12, 2012. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. http://cup.cat/pagina/qu%C3%A8-%C3%A9s-una-cup
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 http://issuu.com/cupnacional/docs/cup-programa_politic_2012?mode=window&backgroundColor=%23222222
  13. http://www.vilaweb.cat/www/elpunt/noticia?p_idcmp=2914027
  14. http://resultados.elpais.com/elecciones/2007/municipales/09/
  15. http://www.elpuntavui.cat/noticia/article/3-politica/17-politica/415440-els-resultats-de-la-cup-els-apropen-a-lesco-al-parlament.html
  16. http://elecciones.mir.es/resultados2011/99MU/DMU09999CM_L1.htm
  17. Spanish Government (2011-05-23). "Local Elections Official Results". Government of Spain. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
  18. http://www.vilaweb.cat/noticia/4047042/20121013/cup-decideix-presentar-eleccions-parlament.html
  19. http://blocs.mesvilaweb.cat/user/view/id/5652
  20. https://web.archive.org/web/20121108060954/http://www.unitatpopular.cat/candidats-i-candidates/barcelona. Archived from the original on November 8, 2012. Retrieved November 26, 2012. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. "David Fernàndez (CUP): 'La democràcia no es defensa al parlament, sinó al carrer'" (in Catalan). VilaWeb. 2012-11-26. Retrieved 2014-10-25.
  22. http://resultadoslocales2015.interior.es/99MU/DMU09999CM_L1.htm
  23. "El mapa dels alcaldes de Catalunya". Ara. 2015-06-15. Retrieved 2015-06-20.
  24. http://www.naciodigital.cat/noticia/88049/cup/entra/al/cinturo/roig/territori/estat/veu/etnicament/propi
  25. http://www.naciodigital.cat/municipals2015
  26. http://www.vilaweb.cat/noticia/4331953/20150525/cup-obte-primers-regidors-pais-valencia.html
  27. "Resultats Eleccions al Parlament de Catalunya 2015". Nació Digital. 2015-09-28.
  28. "Junts pel Sí i la CUP investeixen Puigdemont per avançar cap a la independència". Nació Digital. 2016-01-10.
  29. "Vuit dels diputats de la CUP votaran a favor de la investidura de Puigdemont". Vilaweb. 2016-01-10.
  30. "Artur Mas dimiteix per desblocar l'acord i avançar cap a la independència. Carles Puigdemont serà el nou president". Vilaweb. 2016-01-10.
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