If someone had told Raul Romeva (Madrid 1971) that, after 10 years in the European Parliament, he would be returning to active politics, he wouldn't have taken them seriously. However, the Junts pel Sí project has convinced him to do so and he hopes that on Sunday the ballot boxes prove that he made the right decision.
The Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) candidate hopes that the ballot boxes show that his return to active politics has been the right decision.
This interview with Raul Romeva was originally published in La Vanguardia on Tuesday 23rd September. Click here for the original interview in Spanish.
Romeva want to be president of the Generalitat?
No. It's a collective project that's bigger than the people involved. If I didn't think that now we've got a great opportunity of managing to let the people vote to decide their future, I wouldn't be going back to institutional politics again.
Your opponents say that you are a front for Artur Mas.
There are people that would never vote for me and people that would never vote for Artur Mas, but what makes a lot of people vote for Junts pel Sí is that all of us are there. Nobody's hiding and nobody's a front.
Nothing about the first person in the list nor about anyone else. This isn't about political posts, it's about mandates and collective responsibility.
But what role would you most like to have?
That's not relevant. I don't deny that I'll have some responsibilities if the process moves ahead. Which ones? We'll decide on September 28th depending on the result and the circumstances, because the scenario and rhythm of things can change depending on the size of the majority.
Might the CDC-ERC pact have difficulty making Artur Mas president if the CUP are needed to have a majority?
For the candidate of the most voted list not to be chosen there has to be an alternative candidate. And at this moment in time I don't think there is one. Artur Mas's candidacy isn't in question for many reasons.
Artur Mas listened to the demands of the people who came out onto the streets year after year, he put out ballot boxes and for doing so he has four lawsuits against him. Artur Mas is also a political asset from an international point of view and we have to go through this process with all the assets we've got.
So Artur Mas isn't indispensable, then.
Neither him nor CDC nor ERC. And what's more, not ICV nor PSC nor anybody. It's one thing counting yourself out but it's another thing that each of us will go our separate ways when we've done what we want to do.
You say that the timing of things can change depending on the result. Will the route map be the same even if you don't get a majority of votes?
If you have a very large majority of seats and a majority of votes as well, the process is much easier and faster, because you've got a stronger position to negotiate from. But if you don't have a majority of votes is starting the process still legitimate? Yes, without doubt. If it wasn't, there would be a situation that's even less democratic in which the will of those with fewer seats would be imposed.Without a majority of votes it will be more difficult to explain to the world. It'll be more difficult but that doesn't mean it won't be legitimate.
The Spanish State will use the Constitutional Court to block all the steps taken towards independence.
That's why it's important to have the maximum number of votes and seas in order to be able to stand up to them.
Standing up to them means disobeying the Constitutional Court?
Standing up for yourself means obeying the democratic mandate that the people decide on September 27th. One of the great mistakes is to think that if we lose everything will stay as it is. But No. If the Yes vote doesn't win, we'll go even further backwards. The regression in democratic, economic, competential and legal terms will get bigger. That's the real dilemma. Either we move forwards or we go backwards.
Is Junts pel Sí willing to break the law?
We want the whole process to be negotiated and agreed with the State because that's best for everybody, for Catalonia, for Spain, for Europe. The problem is that there has to be somebody on the other side of the table. Even then we'll have the responsibility of fulfilling the mandate of the ballot boxes and the time will come when we have to make a proclamation of independence, which means disconnecting from the Spanish legal framework and moving to the Catalan one.
Are you worried about people believing the scaremongering that's coming from the economic and financial sectors?
No. In the last few years we haven't heard a single positive proposal, not a single gesture of seduction. It's all been threats, insults and legal action. After that, the fear campaign has no credit. And even less when you compare it with other realities such as exports are increasing and investment in Catalonia is growing. It only makes sense if you see it in terms of trying to influence the election result.
Have you been in contact with the banking organisations since the statement they made last week?
Not personally. But if they've expressed their reading of the situation publicly, there are a lot of other banks. The question I ask myself is whether we really want to be part of a State that, instead of arguments and instead of seducing, just makes continual threats.
From a pragmatic point of view, and leaving public statements to one side, have you got any contacts in Europe who say that, if it becomes necessary, a solution can be found for Catalonia?
It just as important what they say as what they don't say. And nobody has ever said that Catalonia can't vote to decide its future. In Europe there are two equally important principles: legality and democracy, and nobody questions that. And what come across is that everything depends on a political negotiation.
Do we have to wait to see what happens in the General Elections in case something changes on the other side?
The future of Catalonia will be decided by the people of Catalonia. It won't be decided either by the President of Spain nor the president of a bank nor Mrs Merkel nor Mr Obama. We been waiting for many generations and nothing changes.
Is the suspicion of corruption Junt pel Sí's weak point?
It's the weak point of politics in Catalonia, Spain and Europe. And there's only one way to face it: zero tolerance, whoever does it has to pay and merciless laws. The condition to form part of the list was that if anyone was found to have done anything wrong they would have to own up to it, whoever they were. And that didn't cause any problems with the others. Anyway, I can only be responsible for the list, not for anything else.
In the Palau de la Música case, for example, CDC has a civil responsibility.
When there is a ruling, those that have to assume responsibilities will have to assume them. In the meantime, I'm not a judge. But in any case, the problem isn't just for CDC. There are also pending cases for PSC and PP, and there have been cases for C's.
As an ex-member of ICV, can you see yourself making the Catalunya Sí que es Pot campaign and using arguments that divided people on the basis of origin?
I prefer to think that this is Pablo Iglesias' argument. I was in ICV for many years, and this isn't an ICV argument.