Cristina Farrés / María Jesús Cañizares 11/16/2020
Salvador Illa, Minister of Health, in the delegation of the Government in Catalonia / CG
Hardly could Salvador Illa (La Roca del Vallès, 1966) imagine that, as Minister of Health, he would have to manage a pandemic unprecedented in history. Dumped on facing this crisis and on economic recovery, Illa also speaks in an interview in Crónica Global about the electoral prospects of his party, the PSC, where he holds the position of organization secretary.
The Minister of Health assures that his political future depends on exercising this position and that he will do “everything possible so that Miquel Iceta obtains the best results” on 14F
–Question: Do you rule the PSC?
–Answer: I am the organizational secretary of the PSC. The head of the party, because the militants so decided, is Miquel Iceta. I have been the [secretary of] organization since 2016, I continue to do it at the service of the political project of our party.
-Q: If not now, your political future is to be a candidate for the presidency of the Generalitat.
-A: My political future is to continue exercising my responsibility as Minister of Health, which occupies me a lot of time and allows me to serve all Spaniards. I am very proud that I was given this opportunity.
-Q: How do you see the PSC before the elections of February 14?
–A: Well, very good, because I see that the facts have validated our project. We have a responsibility in the Government of Spain. We continue to be very important at the municipal level, I think we have shown, said with humility and pride, our management capacity. And I think that, at the moment, the only ones who offer an agenda to reunite in Catalonia and to focus political action on what really matters to citizens, which is the protection of their health and the economy and social rights, are us. Our political project is stronger than ever.
-Q: The PSC has been accused of falling into a strategy of appeasement. That, by not generating more confrontation with the pro-independence side, the speech has remained flat.
-A: We think that things are to be defended not by shouting and gesturing, but by working and with arguments. And since we have very strong convictions, we work to put them into practice. And obviously, that no one should be counting on the PSC to further divide the citizens of Catalonia. We see that there is a way of doing politics, generally in many western countries, that always seeks to divide, to generate blocks. And there are people who trust all their electoral growth, all their potential, not in making proposals but confronting. To look for conflicts. If one says white, I will say black, if one says high, I will say low. More to differentiate themselves from the political adversary than to solve problems. That is a political position that we do not share. And even less so in a pandemic situation so exceptional that it requires seeking consensus. Democracy is a political system that has as one of its virtues seeking consensus to help society. We have always been respectful of our political adversaries. We have very clear positions, we are against independence but we believe that we can all fit in Catalonia. The famous phrase by Tarradellas is so beautiful: “Catalonia is small enough so that no one else can stand on it and big enough so that we can all fit in”. We must work for the reunion and that is the agenda that we Catalan and Spanish socialists have. If someone expects us to help divide more, confront more, we will not. It is not the way to do politics.
Salvador Illa, Minister of Health, during the interview with ‘Crónica Global’ / CG
-Q: With this declaration of intent, and seeing where the campaigns of the rest of the parties will go, is the PSC in a position to enter a Catalan government?
-A: Right now, our main concern, also as a political party, is to combat the pandemic and reactivate the economy. People do not think about the elections, they think and demand that those of us who have political responsibilities do everything in our power to try to resolve the situation, without leaving anyone behind. It is important that last week the seven amendments to the totality of the General State Budgets were rejected, with an unprecedented level of investment and that they continue with the deployment of a very high social protection shield. This is the priority. Obviously, we are preparing the electoral scenario and, in due course, we will confront our political projects in the elections, with the aspiration of winning them.
-Q: Will you participate in the Catalan election campaign?
-A: Obviously I will do everything in my power so that the PSC and Miquel Iceta obtain the best results and convince the maximum number of citizens to give us their support.
-Q: You were speaking before about the General State Budgets. Some people have seen the pact between PSOE, Podemos and ERC on educational reform and the amendment that shields Catalan as the only vehicular language as a concession to ERC. That pact seems to be contradictory to the relaxation of the immersion that the PSC approved in its congress.
-A: What is recorded in the LOMLOE is not contradictory with what the PSC approved, on the contrary. We always bet that languages are not, as some claim, an element of confrontation. We have always defended and we defend, in that amendment you mention, that every student from an autonomous community with more than one official language ends their training cycle with mastery, at least, of the two official languages. We understand languages not as a barrier to social division, but as a wealth and cohesion. And what is included in our congressional resolutions and in the educational reform is this. Everyone in Catalonia has to master Catalan at the end of their educational cycle and, of course, Spanish, which is one of the most important languages in the world spoken by more than 500 million people. And we also think of a third language. We are working on that. Some sectors always try to make this a factor of confrontation, when it should be the opposite.
-Q: What is the legacy of the Catalan Government?
-A: Both this Government of the Generalitat and the previous one have left a negative legacy for Catalonia. I want to stay in this adjective. Perhaps the worst thing is not that you leave a very improvable management, but that you leave a legacy of division in every way. Societies need a consensus, a minimum cohesion to be able to progress in which different political positions are shared, logically. But there has to be a minimum of cohesion. And these last governments have been very divisive and that is not good for Catalonia.
-Q: Can the 14F elections be maintained in a Covid situation?
–A: I think so. We will see how we get to February 14, we must ensure that they are done in a security framework depending on how the situation is. It is a bad approach to suggest, as some do, that they have to be postponed.
-Q: There are those who point to electronic remote elections.
-A: No, no, the elections have to be in person.
-Q: What balance do you make of the coexistence of the PSOE with Podemos in Madrid and of PSC with the Comuns s in Barcelona? Here we have seen some imbalances regarding the relationship with companies, controversial mobility measures … and it does not seem that the PSC has neutralized that.
-A: We are not here to neutralize anything. We are part of two coalition governments because of the electoral results. In the Government of Spain, the alliance with Podemos works reasonably well. It is obvious that they defend different policies, but in crucial matters a very important harmony has been maintained. For example, in how the pandemic had to be faced, how to deploy a social network and how to reactivate the economy. In the case of the Barcelona City Council, we had already governed, with less weight, in the second part of the previous mandate with the Comuns. I think the government there also works reasonably well and the PSC brings significant management experience and rigor in decision-making.