What is the CUP?

The radical left alternative in the Catalan Countries

The Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) is a left, municipalist and pro-Catalan independence political organisation active in the territories of the Catalan Countries (Paisos Catalans). The CUP is an assembly-based political organization spread throughout the Països Catalans that works for an independent country, socialist, environmentally sustainable and free from the domination of the patriarchy.

Despite it has traditionally focused on municipal politics, and is made up of a series of autonomous candidatures that run in local elections, in 2012, the CUP decided for the first time to run for Catalan parliamentary autonomic elections, gaining 3 MPs out of 135. In the 2015 elections they obtained 10 MPs.

The CUP is made up of autonomous local assemblies representing towns or neighbourhoods. These assemblies are strongly engaged in their territories and work hard for the implementation of clear left-wing politics, from the institutions where they have representation, but specially from the grass-roots. On both the local and national level, decisions are taken in assembly according to the principles of deliberative democracy.

The highly decentralized nature of this organisation stems from a belief in municipalism. The CUP considers municipal government the only institutions within the reach of the general populace. The importance given to municipal assemblies is also meant to avoid the hierarchical organization of most traditional political parties.

Decisions taken by local assemblies are often binding for local candidatures; it is frequently the case that national assemblies will ask local assemblies to vote on issues which will then be ratified, with local groups taking their own positions. At the heart of the CUP and its decision-making process there is a strong commitment to ‘bottom-up’ direct democracy.

The CUP criticise the current political system and defend an alternative brand of participative democracy, allowing the general public to vote on important issues in referenda, and giving the possibility to remove elected officials from office before their term expires.

The CUP’s economic model is broadly socialist, with a planned economy based on solidarity, aimed towards fulfilling the needs of the people, and defending the nationalization of public utilities and banks.

The CUP’s rupturist position is opposed to the hegemonic Catalanist position, as independence for the country without a breakaway from capitalist institutions is not something that the CUP's revolutionary position would support. Significantly, the CUP is opposed to the reformist position of the other independentists, as it doesn't desire social democratic reforms, rather a rupture from the capitalist system.

  The CUP has been at the forefront of supporting opportunities for Catalonia's self-determination through direct democracy, and it campaigned for disobedience against Spanish institutions when they attempted to postpone the popular consultation. The CUP's commitment to local-level democracy and consultations, its non-systemic calls for civil disobedience, and its paradigm-shifting desire to go further than what others proposed highlights its unique position.

The CUP wants to break with the current system and that it has never had more momentum behind it than at the present moment, owing to its influence both at a municipal and national level.