María Jesús Cañizares, 19 September 2021
Fernández (PP): “We are on the road map that separatism still sets”.
The president of Catalan PP warns that the demobilisation of the independence movement is not the result of dialogue, but of a change of strategy that gives priority to “the erosion of Spanish democracy”.
The president of Catalan PP refuses to allow himself to be dragged along by a secessionist roadmap which, he warns, has changed its strategy, and now gives priority to “wearing down Spanish democracy”.
In an interview with Crónica Global, Alejandro Fernández (Tarragona, 1976) reproaches the PSOE for sitting at the dialogue table “with people who say that Spain is a fascist state”.
–Question: Pedro Sánchez and Pere Aragonès are asking for time to move forward at the dialogue table, what do you think?
–Answer: In reality they are asking for time for themselves.
–Is a government with Junts vetoing this dialogue table sustainable?
–We’ve been asking the same question for eight years and, in the end, they seem to be killing each other, but they come back to an agreement.
–What can we expect from this round table?
–Not much. A round table between the government and an autonomous community is not a peace table between Israel and Palestine. We are talking about a community whose president is the highest representative of the state in Catalonia. This means that the mechanisms for talking are already established, there are meetings of presidents and occasionally there may be some other mechanism. If they tell me that this meeting is to coordinate the health emergency or the airport, I wouldn’t say no. The mere fact that the self-determination of Catalonia is a matter for the presidents of the autonomous communities is not enough. The mere fact that self-determination and amnesty are on the table is extremely dangerous, because we are at a different point in the process. These are no longer masses of people trying to occupy public spaces in the style of the Arab Spring. The “Catalan Spring”, as the ANC itself defines it.
–What is the objective then?
–The aim is to discredit Spanish democracy, to caricature it as a dictatorship. When we talk about amnesty, we have to remember that it was granted during the transition from dictatorship to democracy. People who were convicted under Franco’s regime for the crime of illegal political association were granted amnesty because it ceased to be a crime under democracy. But embezzlement is not an ideology, it is a very serious crime in all democracies. And these people have been convicted of embezzlement. They want to give the impression that we have lived in a dictatorship and that an amnesty is necessary. And self-determination is not included in the legal system of any European democracy and is contemplated by the UN for colonies. And it is clear that Catalonia is not.
–We have seen a demobilisation in the streets during the Diada. Do you think that Aragonès and Sánchez’s commitment to dialogue has not had any influence?
–That is a very serious misdiagnosis that is being made. Indeed, there is less mobilisation on the streets, although there is more violence, as we have seen what happened in front of the Via Laietana police station on the Diada. But what has happened is that they have changed their strategy. It’s not that the negotiation has been relaxed, it’s that they have decided that the unilateral system of Primavera Catalana that they tried to rehearse in October 2017 failed, and now they are directed at trying to deactivate that solidity of the State that allowed the coup to be stopped. And this has several objectives: the state security forces and bodies (delegitimise them, expel them) and the Crown, since the King’s speech had a very clear effect on the defeat of the separatist process. And that is where we are heading. The problem is that the Socialist Party, for its own subsistence, is participating in this ambiguous language of amnesty and self-determination, implying that this has been relaxed thanks to dialogue. We are on the road map that separatism continues to set out.
–But the independentistas are still demonstrating, they are there. What alternative can be offered to them other than self-determination?
–I understand the question, but with all due respect, there is something scandalous about it. Why do you have to offer one part of the population something different from the rest? As a ruler, you have to offer the citizens good public services for all, good infrastructures for all, good education, good health. Why do you have to make a specific and specific offer to the pro-independence supporters? And what do you offer to the constitutionalists? And to the moderate left and the liberals? To govern according to watertight boxes would be ungovernable. The separatist demobilisation is not the result of the action of others, it is a change of strategy on their part. They do not prioritise mobilisation, they prioritise the erosion of Spanish democracy. They are absolutely dedicated to discrediting Spain. And that is the Socialist Party’s big problem. When you agree to sit down and talk about who knows what with people who say that Spain is a fascist state, you are legitimising that idea. And that is their objective. They know that in the short term they cannot rehearse what they did. But to achieve ho tornarem a fer, they need a weaker Spain, weaker institutions, a weaker judiciary, a weaker Crown, weaker security forces that do not prevent them from achieving their goal. And I repeat, in collusion with the government, all of Podemos, and part of the PSOE as well.
–From what you say it can be deduced that there is a lot of theatre in the ERC and Junts fights, will they unite again if necessary?
–They agree on the essentials of the strategy, but not on the staging. Junts, since it has lost the leadership of this movement and ERC has taken it over, knows that its electoral leitmotiv is to accuse Esquerra of being botiflers, of being soft. But let no one doubt, because in the previous term they were killing each other every day, even when they united in Junts pel Sí, that they will act together again when the time comes. When they say they will do it again, I take it very seriously. They will not succeed in the short term, but they will try not to have in front of them those elements that prevented them from winning in 2017.
–Is there a lack of a State in Catalonia?
–There has been a progressive dismantling of the state in Catalonia, that’s how it is. The main protagonist has been the PSOE government, although it must also be said that in other times, with PP governments, nationalism was not seen as a threat. Everyone has their own opinion on the level of responsibility of each party, but it is true that this dismantling has been accelerating in recent times. And it must be reversed. Non-nationalist Catalans must feel protected, not abandoned by a State that sometimes neglects its functions and allows the Generalitat, which is part of the State Administration, to do as it pleases, even breaking the law, for example in linguistic, educational and so many other matters. It is unacceptable for an autonomous administration to repeatedly break the law. Whoever believes that this will appease, will end up with a conflict in the end.
–Are education and TV3 the big unresolved issues?
–I know people who have been in the High Inspectorate, but they don’t have the means or the staff or anything else, so they don’t have the capacity to control education issues in an elephantine government. The same happens with the State security forces, who do a commendable job in very difficult conditions. The problem is that the State has lost space, to the point where it no longer has the capacity to respond to a Generalitat that continues to rebel. I insist, the situation has been de-escalated, but as part of a strategy, not through dialogue.
–Will we see the re-founding of Catalan public TV3, both in terms of the way it is run and the positions it holds?
–It will depend to a large extent on the PSC. When it had the opportunity, in two tripartite governments, not only did it fail to do so, but it went too far and handed over all the public media to ERC. This is one of the most serious derelictions of responsibility that I can remember, because even at that time things were happening in the public media that were shameful. Constant insults to Spain, for example. There were already collaborators like Toni Soler, who said outrageous things against Spain and those of us who feel Spanish. And he was denounced. And the PSC’s response was always ‘let’s draw a veil over it, let’s Carod-Rovira get angry’. Salvador Illa is sending out a message, but I don’t trust him too much.
–The ‘Ayuso effect’, with its fiscal measures and measures against Covid, is dragging Catalonia along?
–We went to the elections with these measures in our programme. And many people supported them. The problem, as I said, is that when there is no normality, people don’t vote for these kinds of proposals. During the campaign we tried to talk about lowering taxes, health, aid for restaurants… along the lines of what the Madrid government and the PP have done in other regions. There was no response. The only thing that did was to get you involved in the process. This is an anomaly that leads nowhere and is destroying Catalan society. In Galicia or Andalusia they talk about the important things, here you can’t, the debate is different. I have experienced it first-hand. Call a press conference to talk about tourism, restaurants… and they ask me about what Puigdemont said in Waterloo. And if you don’t talk about it, you don’t come out.
–How do you oppose in these circumstances?
–Well, with a lot of perseverance and calm. The fact that there was no constitutionalist alternative in the middle of the pandemic demobilised an important part of the electorate. Most of the people who stayed at home were Ciudadanos’ and PP voters. But it is also true that until the campaign began, the PP had gained a lot of political space in Parliament, with very little representation, as we have now, but with a serious, constant opposition. That worked well for us. We are not a street agitation movement and we are going to continue with that attitude. We are going to use our programme to take it to Parliament and we hope that the situation in Catalan politics will change.