Election is opportunity to end ‘40 years of nationalism’ in Catalonia, says PP official
Fernando Sánchez dismisses Socialists’ reluctance to govern with right-wing parties as ‘issues from the past’
The December 21 election is a “historic” opportunity to “put aside the nationalist government that has been ruling in Catalonia for the past 40 years,” said Fernando Sánchez, a member of the Catalan branch of Spain’s ruling People’s Party (PP). In an interview with Catalan News, Sánchez stressed the importance of unionist parties coming together in order to form an alternative to pro-independence forces.
Sánchez — an MP until the Spanish government triggered Article 155 to dissolve the Parliament and call a snap election — said that “nationalism has ruled over Catalonia and controlled almost everything.” He hopes that the PP, along with Ciutadans and the Socialists, will “build another government that works for all people, for all Catalans, regardless of their ideology.”
Last week was punctuated by seemingly contradictory messages from Socialist officials: while the leader of the party in Spain said they would not govern alongside right-wing parties — referring to the PP and Ciutadans — the Socialist candidate in the Catalan election, Miquel Iceta, said that he would be willing to “give in” and form a government that pursues “reconciliation”.
“Nothing would have happened [on referendum day] if the Catalan government had obeyed the Constitutional Court"
Fernando Sánchez · People's Party MP
Sánchez dismissed the Socialists’ reluctance to govern with right-wing parties, such as the PP, as “issues from the past,” and he urged party officials to “forget all these old prejudices.” Xavier García Albiol, the Catalan PP’s candidate in the election, encouraged unionist parties to “leave the cockfight” over the presidency until after the vote.
In the previous election in 2015, pro-independence parties won a majority of seats in the Parliament. Even if unionist parties were to fall short of a majority and pro-independence parties regain control of the government, Sánchez said that “all powers” seized by Madrid thanks to Article 155 will come back to Catalonia — that is, as long as they “work within the framework of the rule of law,” he said.
October 1 referendum
The Catalan executive was dismissed by the central government on October 27, following a declaration of independence implementing the results of the October 1 referendum. With the vote suspended by the Constitutional Court, Spanish police intervened to prevent the referendum, leaving 1,066 injured, according to the Catalan government.
“Nothing would have happened if the Catalan government had obeyed the Constitutional Court, but it decided to step outside legality and the rule of law and foster collective disobedience,” said Sánchez, who also stressed that October 1 was a “very sad and bad day in Catalonia.”
Sánchez insisted that the police intervention was “proportionate”. Yet, he also said that he “did not like” some of the images from that day, and added that “if there were some excesses, they have to be studied and investigated.”
When asked about whether it was a contradiction for the PP to ask for compliance with the law when there is mounting evidence of alleged corruption scandals within the party, Sánchez said that corruption must not only be fought in Spain, but also in Catalonia.
“Corruption is really a disease of politics: not only Spanish politics, but also regional politics,” he said. “But I think it does not have a very strong connection with the Catalan process. They are two different things: we have to fight for the rule of law and also against corruption. Also in our party.”