Interview with the president of the Generalitat Valenciana
January 1, 2022
The president of the Generalitat Valenciana, Ximo Puig / JORDI COTRINA
In the midst of a pandemic that does not give truce, the president of the Generalitat Valenciana, Ximo Puig (Morella, 1959), talks with EL PERIÓDICO about what may be the main focus of territorial tension in 2022: the negotiation of the new financing model of autonomies.
— The Government has launched the reform of the autonomous financing system with a proposal that penalizes territories such as the Valencian Community. Do you think it is a starting point to start negotiating?
For the first time since 2013 we are talking with a proposal on the table that, in addition, contemplates the adjusted population variable. The Government has acted responsibly by opening the debate, but it is true that the ranges that arise are very diverse. Now each community will have to make its proposals, until January 31, from the rigor and understanding of the others. The objective is to guarantee financial adequacy by rebalancing resources.
— What will be the red lines of the Valencian Community in this next negotiation?
The insurmountable line is that, once the model is applied, the Valencian Community cannot be in a situation similar to the current one. There cannot be a 30 point difference between the best funded community and the worst funded community. The Valencian Community has 12 points less income per capita because it receives less than its share. Ultimately, the financing system must comply with the Constitution.
“There cannot be a 30-point difference between the best-funded community and the worst-funded community.”
— Among the regional presidents we are seeing two blocks: some of your counterparts met in Santiago de Compostela and you have met, for example, with the presidents of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Andalusia. Are you afraid that the seams of the autonomous state may tighten again?
Frentism does not solve the problem. There are autonomies that have greater complicity because the needs coincide, but it is not a question of looking for a solution for a specific community, but a formula that stabilizes the welfare state in Spain and guarantees equality. No one who considers himself constitutionalist can justify the territorial discrimination caused by the current system. And in this question we are all questioned, but very especially the PP. Without the PP the agreement will be impossible, so it is time to find out what the PP is proposing. At the end of this process there must be an agreement, which will not be happy, but it will be essential for the territorial cohesion of Spain. Without agreements there is no democracy and the general interest is being betrayed. The all too common climate of tension in Spanish politics does not invite optimism about the forging of transversal consensuses. The PP and its leaders are ideologically attached to the extreme right and the fear in which they live does a very negative service for the cause of the country.
— You confirmed with the ‘president’ Pere Aragonès his refusal to enter into a multilateral negotiation. But in an interview with EL PERIÓDICO the ‘minister’ Jaume Giró did not rule out sitting at the table if there is a “reasonable proposal.”
It does not make much sense for the defense of the interest of the Catalans not to be at the tables where fundamental issues for Catalonia are decided. Each government has its project and its roadmap, but while you are in a shared space you have to participate in the decisions made in that space.
“Without the PP the agreement will be impossible, so it is time to find out what the PP is proposing”
— Have Catalonia and the Valencian Community been reconciled politically speaking?
Catalonia and the Valencian Community have to be in permanent dialogue to bring to the institutional level what is normal on the economic, social and cultural level. The relationship has to be based on respect for the projects of each territory, but there are issues such as the Mediterranean Corridor in which we are obliged to converge, as long as identity projects are not put before general interests.
— Another of those shared elements is language. From a community that shares a language with Catalonia, do you think that language fees in schools are a good idea?
From the perspective of the Valencian Community, the fundamental objective should be that when students finish compulsory schooling they know perfectly Valencian, Spanish and English. For that, subjects have to be taught in all three languages. This objective is also plausible in Catalonia.
Subjects must be taught in Catalan, Spanish and English to guarantee knowledge of the three languages
— Do you feel your socialist peers pay attention to you when you raise the flag of federalism?
It is complex to speak of federalism in Spain because many people associate it with disintegration, when federalism is summation from diversity and plurality. A centralist Spain has no future. There are many people, even in the PP, who would participate in this federal vision, probably if we did not call it federal. We are moving towards a Europe that requires us to agree more and more. Disintegration and atomization are meaningless.
— Another federalizing way would be the decentralization of State institutions. Do you like the government’s proposal?
The timid bets that are being launched in this regard, such as that of President Pedro Sánchez, are the way, but it would be necessary to go much deeper and faster into it. It is not reasonable that all the institutions of the State are in Madrid in a compound State like the one established by the Constitution itself. De-concentrating the institutions would help to unite the country and make it stronger.