SILVIA HINOJOSA BARCELONA 23/2/2021
REFLECTIONS AFTER THE 14-F
He observes Catalan politics from his seat as councilor of Barcelona pel Canvi
Manuel Valls (Barcelona, 1962) observes Catalan politics from his seat as councilor of Barcelona pel Canvi, with the accumulated experience in the front line of French politics, as Minister of the Interior and Prime Minister of Socialist governments – a militancy that he left in 2017–. He proposes a government of concentration in the Generalitat.
On the support for Hasél
“I am outraged by the defense of someone who praises terrorism; in France they go to jail for that”
Q. What should be the priorities of the next legislature?
A. Fighting the pandemic, mobilizing resources to vaccinate, and prioritizing economic recovery; and for that we will have to manage European funds well
Q. Who has to preside over the Generalitat?
A. I believe that the independence movement is incapable of governing. It is responsible in part for the decline, the loss of wealth and investments. And the supposed alternative majority of the left is a mirage: ERC is not a left party because nationalism is incompatible with the left, and the CUP is an anti-system party. And a tripartite led by the PSC I believe that at the moment it is not possible.
Q. What solution do you propose?
A. A government of concentration. I do not know if there is a Catalan Draghi, but it is that idea, with a calendar of maximum two years and with a pact in the government or outside the government of all the parties, excluding Vox and the CUP. Here there is a parliamentary regime, there are talented men and women, but first they must agree on the formula. It is very difficult but it is the only solution.
Q. With a technical government, don’t you think politics is throwing in the towel?
A. On the contrary. The elections have not changed the blocs, and if in a few weeks there is no viable long-term solution, discouragement will be even more powerful in society. What I am proposing is a very political solution. We need unity. That is why the large state parties, PSOE and PP, have to support in finding that solution.
Q. But the pro-independence movement has prevailed at the polls, what value does that majority have?
A. There will be no independence, but they cannot get out of this failed path. The legal system, the Constitution, does not allow a referendum on self-determination, all that is a good story to continue, but they lead us to a dead end.
Q. What do you think about what is being negotiated with the CUP and that they can join the government?
A. It seems to me a mistake, an outrage and will accentuate the decline of Catalonia. Here there has been a failure on the part of the elites, of the Catalan bourgeoisie that has wanted to play with all that, with independence, with nationalism, with Catalanism, with the procés, with the CUP. Let us remember that it was the CUP who vetoed Artur Mas, the great person in charge of the situation that is being lived thorough right now. The big problem is not only the relationship with the rest of Spain, it is the deep division that exists in Catalonia.
Q. You have always been critical of the extreme right, should we isolate Vox or seek specific pacts?
A. You cannot agree with Vox. It is not a split from the PP, it is a national-populist party, which wants to transform the state of autonomies, which does not have the same conception of European values, which has an anti-immigration and anti-Muslim discourse that seems dangerous to coexistence. And the left doesn’t have to play with Vox either. It seems too much the left thinks that it is going well for them if Vox grows at the expense of the PP.
Q. You were talking about the Vox discourse on Islamization. Is the democracy-populism debate added to the left-right debate?
A. Yes. The right-left debate exists in society, it is the soul of democracy; that is why we need alternations. But the great debate is liberal democracy versus illiberalism, versus forms of populism. Populism, always following the people, not at all; that leads to the Capitol, to October 1. Representative democracy is the only possible one.
Q. You were Minister of Home Affairs. What do you think about the institutions criticizing the actions of the Mossos in the face of the riots?
A. It is another outrage. We have reached a form of political and intellectual decadence on the part of some leaders. Public order is complicated and you can always improve a performance, there are inspections in the police, there is a Parliament, but it is very important to defend the security forces in a very difficult performance. Questioning the police model with the violence that we are seeing is a serious mistake.
Q. What role should the State have to normalize the political situation in Catalonia?
A. Above all, it is a conflict within Catalan society. Catalonia enjoys autonomy like few other regions in Europe and there are people who have broken the law. The Government of Spain has to find a solution like the one I propose.
Q. What dialog options do you see?
A. Dialogue is not the political solution, it is an instrument. Catalonia cannot be a bargaining chip for anything, nor will pardon; furthermore, it will not end the demands for independence, nor will it fix the situation of the fugitives from justice.
Q. What do you think of the defense of rapper Pablo Hasél?
A. Maybe I’m very French, but I have been outraged to see how a rapper who praises terrorism, yihaddism, who threatens, who attacked a journalist, as well as by the idea that we have to change the law so that this type of person does not go to jail. In Germany or France, which are great democracies, one goes to jail for those acts. And the person who made an anti-Semitic speech the other day, in France they condemn her, these are not opinions, it is a hate crime. And a part of the left, out of do-goodism, falls into this trap.
Q. What is your position on the pardons to the prisoners of 1-O?
A. Justice has to be complied with. Then there is a processing of pardons, but it is not what they ask for, they ask for amnesty. Do they ask for forgiveness? No. They say they are going to repeat it. The government has to listen but it cannot be weak.
Q. There is talk of reforming the crime of sedition, do you think that lowering the sentences of the prisoners could favor a reconciliation?
A. I don `t believe. It is very dangerous to play with the Penal Code and, if it is done, it goes through a political consensus.
Q. A year ago your possible return to French politics was considered. What political plans do you have?
A. I am lucky to be able to express myself in France as well as in Spain. I feel very French, but leaving Barcelona with this situation? No, we all have to help this city recover.
Q. Did you vote on F-14?
A. Yes, of course.
Q. And what did you vote for? For Eva Parera?
A. No. Like many Catalans, I thought about it a lot, I see all the contradictions. I’m very sad about what happened to Cs, they were wrong. The PP has tried to open up to personalities like Roldán, like Eva, but I have never voted conservative. After thinking about it a lot, I voted for Salvador Illa, despite the ambiguities of the PSC during the procés, despite the high price we are paying for its coalition government with Podemos, and the unbearable relinquishments to Bildu and ERC. But its discourse was the only alternative to independence.