Sergi Ill (Barcelona) – 25/01/2020 – Image: Cristina Lisalde
Fernando Sánchez Costa (Barcelona, 1984) is a Spanish historian and politician who chairs Catalan Civil Society (SCC), the main association of constitutionalism in Catalonia. He took the baton from Josep Ramon Bosch after his resignation as the head of the organization with the objective of closing the organic crisis, through which the organization was going with resignations due to the change in strategy that had distanced them from Cs and PP. He organized the October 2019 demonstration, which had 80,000 participants according to the Urban Guard, to request the end of the procés and commemorate the massive march of 2017 against the plans of the Government of Puigdemont.
Question: What do you think about this alliance between PSOE and Podemos with the pro-independence ERC and Bildu in Madrid for the investiture?
Answer: We would have liked another agreement. We defended a great pact of constitutional base with different formulas of understanding that could also solve the Catalan crisis from the transversal agreement. We respect the Government of Spain because it is also ours, but we ask that it enforces the laws and the Constitution. There are things about the agreement between ERC and PSOE that we dislike: it assumes the story of independence and leaves the institutional framework. In addition, we do not see that the voice of constitutionalism is represented.
Q: And what do you aspire to achieve from the new
scenario that opens from this pact?
A: To always keep in mind the demands and claims of the constitutionalist Catalans. For 40 years, political logic has made half of Catalonia invisible, which has always been an exchange currency for both the PSOE and PP governments. This cannot continue like this, the Catalan constitutionalists have become aware, have manifested themselves massively and have organized. Let’s talk, politics is about that, but also about what you haven’t wanted to talk about in 40 years.
Q: PP and Cs should have participated more in the board of parties as did the Catalan socialists?
A: First of all, we do not feel represented by Mr. Torra, nor by the Government, nor by ERC at this time. The central government has to keep in mind that Torra does not represent millions of Catalans, that we are far from his sectarian policy. Many Catalans feel disaffected by institutions that are also ours. We will not comment if in the dialogue board should be present one party or another, but we will do with the constitutional commandments, and the place to do it should have been the Parliament or Congress, within the framework of the Constitution.
Q: The dialogue board does not conflict with the Spanish
A: I insist on not influencing the political parties and telling them what to do and what not to do. I understand that there are parties that do not feel comfortable in the logic of the negotiation of the PSOE and ERC, but to us the only thing that matters to us is that the constitutionalists do not return to be currency of exchange. We have been invisible by the Catalan and central governments that have confused Catalonia with the nationalist elites. You have to deepen the democratic quality of our land: neutrality in public spaces, plurality in TV3 and normalization of Castilian, which is normal in institutions what is normal in the street.
Q: Do you think the social temperature is better with the
new political situation?
A: We see the new situation with ambiguity, with an ambivalent feeling. On the one hand we demand spaces for dialogue and understanding to look to the future and to overcome the tension. We see the double risk in guaranteeing the stability of Spain by giving the key to our land to ERC, because giving them hegemony can be bread for today and hunger for tomorrow. Nobody believes there will be independence in the short term, but to repeat the logic of making Catalonia a protectorate of a pro-independence party is to lay the foundations of an independence process within a 15 years’ time, it is no joke.
Q: How do you see constitutionalism in the field of unity of action with positions so distant between its parties?
A: I think it is important to demystify the possibilities of politics and politicians. Citizens, especially constitutionalists, have a sometimes messianic vision of how parties have to move or what alliances they must weave. We have to ask ourselves more what we, those people who love Catalonia and the whole of Spain, do. The future of our land does not depend only on Moncloa or non-independent parties, it depends on whether we are able to coordinate with resources, strategy and creativity to strengthen ties with the rest of Spain.
Q: How are relations with non-independence parties, taking into account some disagreements with Ciudadanos?
A: We have been accused some times of being the white mark of Ciudadanos, and other times of being that of the PSC. We respect Cs, what they have done in Catalonia has been historical, and we met with them recently, and we have a very good relationship with the PSC as the first constitutionalist party in the general elections. Also, we have a very good relationship with the PP. SCC is a very plural civic platform, and maybe some like or don’t like the things we say, this is what distinguishes us.
Q: But there has been a change of discourse from harder positions to other fronts but more in a constructive sense, which moves it away from the more confrontational position of Cs …
A: SCC has developed the strategy that it thought was most appropriate for each moment with the foundational objective: defend the permanence of Catalonia in the Spanish project and work for the common good of the Catalans. At each moment we will have to put the accent on one point or another. In Catalonia we are 7 million people, we cannot turn our backs on each other, we have to listen and at the same time defend the democratic and constitutional framework: rule of law and unity in diversity.
Q: You were a MP of the PPC. How do you assess the current situation of the party given its loss of representation?
A. The PPC is very well directed and represented by Alejandro Fernández, and I am sure he will get a strong party in Catalonia, something that suits us all. On the other hand, these are internal issues of the party. We also need a strong Ciudadanos and a very strong PSC. Because of my institutional role, I left any political militancy.
Q: Has SCC managed to pacify its internal crisis after the convulsions experienced in recent times?
A: Yes, SCC has made a commitment to a new organizational model. Before with Josep Ramon Bosch and now with the Board that I lead, we wanted to significantly expand our base. We have quintupled the partners and I think that citizens have a very important role. We are bound for being an actor of the social and cultural life of Catalonia, which gives voice to non-independent Catalans. Òmnium Cultural has run out of monopoly, we really want to make culture, to make stories, audiovisual content, to be present in civic environments.
Q: There are two and a half million Catalans who want independence. Could more self-government or a federal Spain make many of those who are temporary abandon this idea?
A: There is a loyalty problem. The State has been giving many tools to exercise self-government with enormous powers, and because there are so few missing they ask for independence. The problem is not if you get more or less, it is if you will use them to dismantle Spain. We do not believe that it is time to give more powers, but to make it have more capacity for action in the whole country.
Q: Do you plan to have any meeting with the president of the Generalitat?
A: We want to express to everyone how we feel and how millions of Catalans feel. Quim Torra was already politically disabled and now what he must do is leave his post and call elections immediately. We need a new photograph of what the Catalans want. He has decided to make out of the confrontation the axis of his mandate while Catalonia is totally stopped, the problems of the Catalans are neglected and we have the Government obsessed with a project that nobody believes in.