9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN32 Political Sociology

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Nationalism, Populism and Eurosceptic Opposition Building I, 2E10

Plataforma per Catalunya, the emergence of a successful populist radical right party in the Spanish autonomous region of Catalonia

Spain is one of the few European countries that over the last decades haven't had an electorally successful populist radical right-wing party. The reasons pointed out to explain this have been several (extreme right party's nostalgia towards Franco's regime, lack of a relevant number of foreign migrants, etc.). However, in recent years the growing concern around the immigration issue and the increasing criticism of citizens towards mainstream political parties have led to the fear that a radical right party could emerge and capitalize the anxieties and resentments of certain sectors of the population. Despite this situation, traditional extreme right parties have not been able to escape from political marginality. The only exception has been the newly created party Plataforma per Catalunya (PxC), which has achieved increasing electoral gains in the autonomous region of Catalonia.

Plataforma per Catalunya has obtained its best results in local elections and its electoral support is concentrated in certain areas and municipalities of this autonomous region. Its political discourse and strategy are much closer to those of the European populist radical right parties than to those of the Spanish extreme right parties. It has adopted an anti-establishment (not anti-democratic) discourse and its opposition to immigration is presented in terms of cultural incompatibility and of material threats for autochthonous people (not in biological/hierarchical terms). At the same time its political strategy is clearly focused towards the electoral/institutional arena, trying to present itself as a "legitimate" actor and dissociate its image from that of right-winged extremist and violent parties. In this sense, the first objective of the paper will be to present the features and political trajectory of this party and compare them with that of the European populist radical right party family. Once this is done, the paper will try to explain the process through which this party has achieved a strong electoral support in certain municipalities. Finally, taking into account the overall features of Plataforma per Catalunya and our analysis of its success in certain municipalities, we will try to assess its possibilities of achieving an electoral breakthrough in other municipalities and at the national level.