ISABEL GARCIA PAGAN, LOLA GARCÍA BARCELONA 07/03/2021
Although he insists that the Parliament must still give him the votes to be president, Pere Aragonès already has the scheme of the new Government that these days ERC negotiates with Junts and with the CUP. In this interview, he also tries to reassure the economic sectors of Catalonia.
Pere Aragonès: “This has to be the legislature of dialogue, but the State has to do its duties”
Resources for the Autonomies
“It is easier to consolidate the extra funds for health than to agree to other financing”
Q. The 14-F allows a government of independence or of the left. You say that the priority now are social needs, why then do you opt for a pro-independence government?
A. It is both. We need a progressive Government and face the conflict with the State through a referendum and an amnesty.
Q. Why are negotiations starting with the CUP and not with the Junts, which has more seats?
A. The order of the factors does not alter the product. The CUP has also had the highest electoral growth in the pro-independence movement. The important thing is that the pro-independence majority has been reinforced.
The new government
“It must be a Government of transformation, not only dedicated to discourse or narrative”
Q. You insist on adding to the Comuns, despite their refusal
A. I am very persistent. And the world of the Comuns has to get involved. The resolution of the political conflict will require courage and generosity and it is time to lift the vetoes, which are sterile.
Q. You maintain a veto to the PSC
A. Governing with a socialist party that says it maintains the repression and prevents the Catalans from choosing their future would not be coherent. The objective of the PSC has been to repeat the Arrimadas operation and that does not help them to form majorities.
Pere Aragonès, at the Conselleria d’Economia, in the Free Trade Zone, last Friday Pedro Madueño
Q. The negotiation with Junts is stuck on the independence roadmap, what exactly is the discrepancy?
A. I want to be very respectful of the negotiation. What unites us, which is the important thing, is the defense of the referendum and the amnesty.
“It is as important not to put dates that are a rope around your neck as not to postpone it forever”
Q. Is the referendum for this legislature, as requested by the CUP?
A. For when it would be possible. The negotiation table with the State is important, to which we will go with 52% of the votes. And we all agree that an agreed referendum, internationally recognized, is better. That is the way.
Q. Should we set deadlines for this dialogue table?
A. Transparent evaluation and monitoring mechanisms must be put in place. It is as important not to set fixed dates that would be a rope around our necks as it is to make it clear that this cannot go on forever. I am absolutely committed to the negotiating table and I will promote it from the presidency. It is the recognition of a political conflict that can only be resolved democratically. It will be difficult. We won’t do it overnight.
Q. If so many expectations are placed on the dialogue table and it does not bear the expected results, will frustration increase?
A. I am not naive, but I have all the determination. Many times we have talked about passing to another screen. Well, each screen has to be played hard, with all the will. I know that the Spanish Government will come dragging its feet, but now that we have brought them down to this bilateral table, we have an obligation to try, to take advantage of it, to ensure that the contradictions turn to the other side. Does anyone think this will be solved by putting more people in prison or exile?
“I spoke with them; they expressed a discomfort that we largely share”
Q. Is this to be the legislature in which all appeals to disobedience are banished?
A. It must be the legislature of dialogue. The state must also create the conditions. No threats. We see the Prosecutor’s Office appeal third degrees or complain against the president of the Parliament. The state has to do its homework.
Q. Are pardons part of those duties?
A. We defend amnesty. If a pardon arrives, it is welcome because it is the freedom of leaders who are in prison, but it will not be the solution to the underlying problem.
The King and the electric car
“I was in Seat and I expressed my maximum involvement, but I will not be in a hand-kissing”
Q. If a Government of ERC and Junts ends up being formed, how should it differ from the previous one?
A. It must be a Government of transformation, not dedicated only to discourse or narrative, but a Government of change. It is not just management. The departments cannot be watertight compartments, the structure of the Government must be changed. We are going to create the departments of Equality and Feminisms, and Climatic Action, because these are two challenges. It is the concept of the new republican Generalitat. It is necessary to modernize the Generalitat and that a part of the citizenship that has felt estranged from the institutions, recover them. We will rule for everyone.
Q. Are you thinking of mixing leaders of the two parties in each department?
A. It is not a matter of painting each secretariat in colors. You have to incorporate talent from outside the games. I have proposed creating the Next Generation commissioner, with Miquel Puig at the top, who has independent criteria and professional experience. Reinforcing teamwork is essential.
The presidential office
“We must not forget the repression, but I will occupy all the spaces of the Palau de la Generalitat”
Q. Before you spoke of the “new republican Generalitat” when the Generalitat is an institution included in the Constitution. Are you building a virtual concept, as if it were already the institution of an independent state?
A. The Generalitat was not born with the Constitution, but rather connected with the Republic. I feel like heir to what the Generalitat de Macià and Companys represented, which opened more schools than anyone else, promoted the eight-hour day, worked for cooperatives, for progressive taxation. We want to recover the transformative will of those ERC presidents.
Q. On Thursday an act of businessmen without representation of the Government was held, did they not feel represented with their claim?
A. This week I have been in contact with the main organizations that organized the event and we have offered them a willingness to speak. They expressed a discomfort that we largely shared.
Q. If the priority is recovery, why are you starting to negotiate on the police model?
A. We have put our priorities on the table; and the rest of the forces, theirs.
Q. The CUP asks for changes on the Mossos that cannot be applied in practice.
A. We must strengthen the model of a democratic police that is committed to acting in public order when necessary, but also to mediation and the proximity police. It’s what we’ve been talking about. I want to give my support to the 17,000 mossos and the 10,000 local policemen. But we must not stay in public order, but attend to the causes of social unrest.
Q. Is the Catalan police so repressive? It is a young police, created and trained in Catalonia. Has it been so wrong as to be questioned so often?
A. No. Catalan society is very self-demanding. The Mossos are the only police whose commanders have apologized and expressed a willingness to improve. We must give our support and not transfer political problems to the police. The crime of insults to the Crown is not eliminated or poverty is not fought and discomfort is caused so that the police then have to face them.
Q. According to the councilor of the Interior, the youth faction of the CUP instigates the riots, and you are negotiating the police model with the CUP, is it not contradictory?
A. We cannot exclude political forces from some kinds of debate.
Q. Does the negotiation to form a government have to include a unity of action in Madrid?
A. Regarding what the Government does, the more coordination the better, but respecting the electoral results. ERC cannot tell the MPs of Junts or CUP what to do. And we represent different ideologies, in the municipalities, the European Parliament or the Congress.
Q. Will you get involved in getting better financing?
A. In everything that is looking for resources for Catalonia we will be there. But let’s not be naive. A negotiation of the financing system is a fight between communities where in the end the only way to solve it is for the State Government to put money on the table. And this government does not want to do it. What I do think we can agree on is the financing of healthcare. We have extraordinary funds that have come from the Covid that have to be maintained for Catalonia and for the rest of the communities. The Col-legi de Metges de Catalunya has estimated our health underfinancing at 5,000 million and the first step to reverse this is to consolidate those funds.
Q. That does not exclude the negotiation of regional financing.
A. This measure that I propose can involve many more resources for us than any reform of financing. And it is much easier to agree politically with everyone.
Q. In the co-governance system of the pandemic, the central government has not complied with the injection of direct resources. Do you feel abandoned?
A. The Spanish State is the one that is making the least efforts in Europe. During the pandemic, the Government has allocated 3,000 million to help affected sectors. We are the first community in support measures, but the State that we pay also has to do it.
Q. Can you ally yourselves with the economic world to demand it?
A. One of my first measures if I am president will be a great economic and social agreement. We will adapt these measures to the reconstruction stage and we will hold the State accountable.
Q. On Friday, the King and President Pedro Sánchez were supporting a large investment in Seat for the electric car. You were not there.
A. The important thing is Seat and the electric car and not the King. To work to get the electric car, for the battery factory, so that European funds reach Catalonia, we have been and will be there. On Friday of the previous week I was in Seat, I addressed this issue and expressed the support and the will of maximum involvement of the Government in this project. We have an excellent relationship with Seat. When it comes to working and getting involved we will be there, not to make a hand-kissing.
Q. Will you be a president tutored by Oriol Junqueras?
A. No. The president will be me and I will be in good company. I will have my advisors, but I will decide because it is my responsibility.
Q. Will you occupy the Palau office that has been empty since 2017?
A. Obviously yes. We are in a situation of repression, we must not forget it, but we need a Government that assumes all its functions, spaces and resources.