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Interview with Acting President of the Government on La Sexta TV programme "Al Rojo Vivo"

Moncloa Palace, Madrid, Thursday 18 July 2019

PEDRO SÁNCHEZ, Acting President of the Government

Antonio García Ferreras.- María, at Moncloa Palace with the Acting President of the Government, with the man who is trying to push through the investiture so that this country has a government.

President of the Government Sánchez, good afternoon.

President of the Government.- Good afternoon.

Ferreras.-Have you vetoed the presence of Pablo Iglesias or not in the future government in the event of reaching an agreement with Unidas Podemos?

President of the Government.- I don't like using that verb. What I would say in public is what I said to Mr Iglesias in private because he is indeed the main obstacle to the formation of a coalition government between the Socialist Party and Unidas Podemos. And the conditions are not right for Mr Iglesias to become a member of this government.

Ferreras.- Why aren't the conditions right?

President of the Government.- Well, I have explained to him that there are three main arguments.

Ferreras.- Because you need his MPs.

President of the Government.- Absolutely. Furthermore, I have actually made him an offer, which I feel was fairly sensible, a fairly reasonable understanding that would channel a great deal of the expectation that currently exists among the left-wing electorate, which is an understanding between the Socialist Party and Unidas Podemos.

Ferreras.- But why not Pablo Iglesias? Why is Pablo Iglesias the obstacle?

President of the Government.- Let's see, there are three reasons, one of which is political. It is clear that we have similar ideas and agree on certain social policies, but there are many other things that we do not agree upon. There are State policies that are not for the medium term but for the near future, for example, the ruling in the 'procés' [pro-independence movement] trial to be handed down by the Supreme Court, which will reveal the fundamental differences that Unidas Podemos and the Socialist Party have on this issue.

Just look, sometimes, talking with Pablo Iglesias, both in public and in private, I have heard him argue that political prisoners exist in Spain, while I have said that no political prisoners exist in Spain.

And clearly, when faced with a crisis, which will need a pro-dialogue government, which is what I advocate within the limits of the Spanish Constitution, we need to have our ideas clear and have a united government. I cannot afford to be facing one of the worst State crises of these last 40 years of democracy in Spain ever over the next few weeks and months with a Vice-President of the

Government who, out of loyalty, simply looks the other way or shuts up.

Ferreras.- But he has said that he would be loyal to the policies you decided upon.

President of the Government.- But if we are talking about political prisoners, I do not need any Vice-President of the Government, but rather a Vice-President of the Government that defends democracy in Spain, that supports the separation…

Ferreras.- Doesn't he defend democracy in Spain?

President of the Government.- When he speaks about political prisoners, what is he saying? That in Spain people are being persecuted that have different ideas and that are in prison precisely because of these ideas? Or because they have allegedly committed criminal offences that are presently on trial in the courts, in this case in the Supreme Court? Hence, here we have a very significant initial difference of opinion in a fundamental area that will ruled on in just a few weeks, in just a very months, and hence I need a government with a right hand that defends democracy in Spain, who says that this country has a social and democratic State under the rule of law, that the judiciary is independent from the executive and that no-one is persecuted here because of their ideas or put in prison because of their ideas. That is the first reason.

The second reason is functional, and we can see that at this time in La Rioja. And we have also seen this in Andalusia, in Madrid and in Catalonia. Mr Iglesias does not guarantee responsibility in terms of conduct and decisions that are being taken by very important members of his own party.

Look at Ada Colau, for example, who disagrees with Ms Carmena, the former Mayor of Madrid, arguing that there are indeed political prisoners in Catalonia, while the latter argues that there are no political prisoners in Spain.

Ferreras.- Ada Colau governs with the Socialist Party of Catalonia, with Jaume Collboni. Or Ximo Puig with Mónica Oltra, with Unidas Podemos, Martínez Dalmau.

President of the Government.- Of course. Absolutely, but do you know what has happened to Ada Colau and to Collboni on the City Council of Barcelona? There are so many differences regarding territorial policies and on how to resolve the crisis in Catalonia, that they have put them to one side, they have side-stepped these differences to precisely be able to focus on managing the city.

Clearly that can be done with a local authority, the City Council of Barcelona can do that, but the Government of Spain cannot do that, which must resolve and manage this crisis that we will obviously face after the ruling is handed down in the 'procés'.

Ferreras.- But let's see, Mr President of the Government, in the talks with Pablo Iglesias, he has said to you that he wants to be a member of your government either as the Vice-President of the Government of as a minister with a portfolio. Is that what he has said or not?

President of the Government.- Let's see, I don't like to talk about private conversations.

Ferreras.- You said that to your executive body today.

President of the Government.- Nor do I like the talks I may have had with the Federal Executive Committee being known.

I will acknowledge one thing. Firstly, that the main obstacle to forging an agreement between Unidas Podemos and the Socialist Party is the participation of Mr Iglesias in the government. And secondly, I will say that 99.9% of the conversations that I have had with Mr Iglesias over this time have not precisely been about content, they have not been about how to resolve the problem of housing for young people or about how to repeal the labour reform or about how to rebuild the Welfare State. They have primarily and, above all, been about the positions Unidas Podemos would hold in the government.

Ferreras.- Are you saying that the talks you have held have primarily, or exclusively, revolved around the presence of Pablo Iglesias, or of Unidas Podemos, in the government, and around nothing else?

President of the Government.- Exactly.

Ferreras.- And how do you respond to that?

President of the Government.- What I have said to him is that it is not possible for Mr Iglesias to form part of the government, because we have very serious differences at a State level. Because indeed, as I said before, we are going to see in the Regional Parliament of La Rioja the only MP that can forge a political change in favour of the Socialist Party in La Rioja after 24 years, because that is what the people of La Rioja want to see, because the Socialist Party is the leading political force in that region.

And just look, there is a third reason, a third argument. You are the editor of the programme "Al rojo vivo". Can you imagine someone who says they want to be the assistant editor because they don't trust you? Because the approach being adopted by Mr Iglesias to become a member of the government is that he doesn't trust the Socialist Party.

Ferreras.- From what I can see, you don't trust him either.

President of the Government.- No, no. What I am saying is there are serious differences on State policies between the Socialist Party and Unidas Podemos. They advocate the right to self-determination. They maintain that there are political prisoners in Spain. They appealed against the application of Article 155, with the crisis we went through in 2017. In short, there are issues on which we seriously disagree.

Just look, two days ago at the meeting of spokespeople, Junts Per Catalunya presented a motion for reconsideration by the Board of the Lower House of Parliament to suspend the prisoners-elect.

Do you know how Unidas Podemos voted? It voted in favour of this reconsideration.

Ferreras.- Had they said before that they were going to vote on your side?

President of the Government.- No, but at any event, just look, more than focusing on our differences, which may explain why, I have proposed something very different to what Mr Iglesias wants. I feel that the proposal the Socialist Party has made him is very reasonable.

Ferreras.- Let me ask you now about his offer and whether it still stands. You are saying to me that Pablo Iglesias, in some way, has asked to be present. Well, we actually have there, in the background, with that Miró, the cabinet room. Is that the room where the Council of Ministers meets?

President of the Government.- Yes.

Ferreras.- You are saying to me that he has asked for that, to be present there, in the cabinet. But on Monday, you said to Aimar Bretos on Cadena SER that he hadn't asked for that, that he hadn't stated things in that manner.

President of the Government.- Because I don't want to get involved in airing private conversations. But as you can imagine, as I said to you before, a good part of the talks I have had with Mr Iglesias have revolved around the participation of Unidas Podemos in the government, and in particular, his presence in the government.

I can also say to you, just look, that these talks have led to positive things for Unidas Podemos. The first proposal I made to Mr Iglesias was for them to remain outside, with us in government and for both parties to reach understandings on legislative initiatives. Subsequently, I proposed a government of cooperation. I then proposed to include independents of recognised standing within the government. Finally, last Thursday, in a phone call at four in the afternoon, I offered for well qualified members of Unidas Podemos to join the cabinet after having negotiated the content of the programmes that they considered to be important, and hence a party would form part, for the first time ever, of the Council of Ministers to the left of the Socialist Party.

Ferreras.- Are you saying that you made that proposal to him last Thursday?

President of the Government.- Yes.

Ferreras.- We also interviewed Pablo Iglesias this week. Let's see why he stresses that this proposal was not made, and why he didn't exactly understand what you… You are talking about a coalition government for the first time in the 40 years of democracy.

President of the Government.- Yes.

(Board with statements from Pablo Iglesias)

Ferreras.- Did you propose that to him or not?

President of the Government.- In short, everyone may defend their own position. I am saying to you that this is what I offered him. I offered for the first time, as you rightly stated, in 40 years, for a party to the left of the Socialist Party to join the Government of Spain with people who are of renowned standing. I am not talking about technocrats, bureaucrats or people without ideology.

Qualifications and ideology do not go hand-in-hand. There are good examples in the Council of Ministers of people who are members of the Socialist Party but who are not well-known for their membership of the Socialist Party, but for their qualifications, for example, the Minister for Culture and the Minister for the Ecological Transition. There are others who are not part of the rank and file of the Socialist Party, but who are progressives, such as Marlaska, Lola Delgado, Pedro Duque, Margarita Robles. In short, the proposal I made was honest as regards the incorporation of qualified individuals from Unidas Podemos. And my quarrel, as such, was the participation of Mr Iglesias in that government.

Ferreras.- If you had accepted Pablo Iglesias to form part of your Council of Ministers, that cabinet that we can see in the background, then would the investiture have been closed and agree upon? Is that the only obstacle at this time?

President of the Government.- Absolutely, I am sure of it.

Ferreras.- Does your offer still stand?

President of the Government.- That offer still stands until next week. Just let me tell you something; it seemed to me so harsh that a government could not be formed between the Socialist Party and Unidas Podemos because there was a disagreement about whether Mr Iglesias should be a member of that government; it seemed to me so harsh that they would vote together with the far right, the People's Party and Ciudadanos, against the investiture, for the second time, of a socialist President of the Government, that I would have to seriously think about whether Mr Iglesias and Unidas Podemos were worth the time and effort.

Ferreras.- Why didn't you say that to Aimar Bretos on Cadena SER on Monday? Yes, that is what he asked me for. You said. No, no, no, he didn't want to be a member.

President of the Government.- I did not explicitly say that; I would like to be sufficiently respectful because I cannot, how can I phrase it, be expected to exactly reproduce hours and hours of talks that I have had with Mr Iglesias. But just look, I can say something.

Ferreras.- He said to us that of all these hours, 99% or more than 90% were given over to you talking about whether or not he would form part of your Council of Ministers.

President of the Government.- And that is the reality of it. When he says that he does not want to negotiate about content in the fourth of the five proposals that I made to him but to talk about the government, what Mr Iglesias is saying is that he wants comprehensive negotiations. And when we talk about comprehensive negotiations and we talk about not having vetoes, we are quite simply talking about the participation of Mr Iglesias in the Council of Ministers.

And look, with all my respect for Mr Iglesias, with all the political and personal consideration I have, because we have cooperated for these last 12 months, I have said to him that since we are two leaders of political parties that differ so much on such key questions for our country that will arise over the coming months and the coming years as the issue of Catalonia, for example, I feel it would be better for Mr Iglesias to understand that in order for this new government to gel, with enough internal cohesion to guarantee providing an effective response to the challenges that lie ahead of us, he should take a step a back and allow the incorporation of some ministers from Unidas Podemos that are qualified and with whom we can reach understandings.

Because I don't want to veto anyone, but nor do I want anyone to impose names on me. Because, in the end, I will take ultimate responsibility for what these ministers do, whether they be from the Socialist Party, independent or from Unidas Podemos. Hence, I think that what I am proposing is sensible and reasonable.

Ferreras.- President of the Government, which ministerial portfolios would you be prepared to hand over to Unidas Podemos? Do you have them in your mind?

President of the Government.- I haven't spoken with him about that. I know what proposals he has made me.

Ferreras.- In addition to the Vice-Presidency of the Government, you said to your executive body today that the Treasury, Work and Social Security, Communication.

President of the Government.- Those are some of the things that have come out of our talks.

Ferreras.- Allow me a moment please, President of the Government, because they are about to vote in La Rioja. The MP for Unidas Podemos has just voted "no".

President of the Government.- That seems very harsh to me because after 24 years of a People's Party government, after Concha Andreu, and since the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party has won the elections, the only thing that the MP for Podemos was being asked for was to at least facilitate this change that the people of La Rioja were asking for on a majority basis. And just look, that takes me to the proposal I made earlier regarding UP and, in particular, Pablo Iglesias.

Ferreras.- Please allow me, President of the Government.

(Board with the result of the voting in La Rioja: 16 votes in favour and 17 against, with no abstentions)

Ferreras.- President of the Government, the same may happen in the Lower House next Tuesday and Thursday.

President of the Government.- Yes, yes, and I believe that there is a certain risk of that; I don't want to kid the people of Spain, and, above all, the progressive citizens of this country. Because just look, the proposal I made to Mr Iglesias to include qualified people from Unidas Podemos in my cabinet, but without him, was dismissed out of hand the next day in an interview he gave with RTVE, calling the proposal "idiotic".

Ferreras.- He has apologised.

President of the Government.- Perfect, but it led to a party consultation in which the proposal made by the PSOE was not included, precisely this last proposal that I made to Mr Iglesias, and hence it was a false consultation. And it was a consultation that did not explain the proposal and the role to be played by Unidas Podemos either.

And just look, I have already gone through this before, Mr Ferreras, back in 2016. There was also a consultation, and it is clear that when Mr Iglesias has a problem, he proposes a consultation in order to hide behind his members and explain and justify what is unjustifiable, which is that they are going to vote against, and prevent a socialist President of the Government being invested in this country next week.

Ferreras.- Perhaps they won't vote against but abstain.

President of the Government.- Which is a shameful "no" vote. What value does an abstention or a "no" vote have in the end? If it doesn't prosper, it will mean that no left-wing government in this country will be formed.

Ferreras.- President of the Government, are you under any pressure? I ask this because we are going to listen to Pablo Iglesias, who says that you are under pressure, from the powers that be - the Ibex 35, the business world, the economic world - for you not to reach an agreement with Unidas Podemos but with the right wing, with the PP and Ciudadanos. Let's listen to Pablo Iglesias.

(Board with statements from Pablo Iglesias)

Ferreras.- Are you under any pressure?

President of the Government.- Of course not. What's more, when I have been in the past, from those that Mr Iglesias is referring to, I have spoken about it. Precisely on your channel.

Ferreras.- He told Jordi Évole on Salvados. Isn't it like that this time?

President of the Government.- The only pressure I am under is the pressure of my own convictions. I must defend the general interests of our country, and I must also defend the interests of a left-wing government that must address some very important challenges - in the field of social justice, in the field of climate change, in the field of housing policy, and also in relation to co-existence in Catalonia. And all of this is at a standstill; it has been brought to a standstill by Unidas Podemos and by the right wing of the People's Party and Ciudadanos, and, by the way, Ciudadanos could very well have abstained in La Rioja in order to form a socialist regional government. Where is that argument now about the most voted for party by the People's Party and Ciudadanos? That is exactly what we are looking at here.

The problem is that there is no alternative to a Socialist Party government. I have always advocated the same thing, a progressive government, with our preferred partner being Unidas Podemos, which is not dependent upon the pro-independence forces. Does that mean that I despise the pro-independence forces? Of course not, I want to reach understandings with the pro-independence forces, but within the Constitution; I want to talk with them, because there is a crisis of co-existence in Catalonia that we must resolve.

But it is clear that we cannot leave the investiture of the President of the Government of Spain in the hands of forces that do not share a common project. And that calls for a response from the People's Party and from Ciudadanos, or don't they have anything to say? Or is it much better for them to block the formation of a government and hence force Spain to go back to the polling stations again on 10 November? And we should also ask Mr Iglesias whether he will vote against the formation of a progressive government, together with the far right and with the People's Party and Ciudadanos?

Ferreras.- Will you call Pablo Iglesias again before Monday?

President of the Government.- I will; I will call all three political formations: Unidas Podemos, the People's Party and Ciudadanos over the course of the next few days until such time as the voting takes place.

Ferreras.- As regards Pablo Iglesias, does your offer still stand of ministers from Unidas Podemos in your cabinet?

President of the Government.- Of course it still stands.

Ferreras.- But under the condition that Pablo Iglesias is not a member of your cabinet.

President of the Government.- Of course, because… I repeat. The two leaders of two parties that have so many deep-seated differences of opinion, which will affect Spanish politics over the next four years, would do much better to decide on exactly which responsibilities we can share and which we can't. Just look, a government with Mr Iglesias within just wouldn't work. It would be paralysed by its own internal differences, something I have already told him in private, not once, not twice, but many times.

Ferreras.- And how does he respond?

President of the Government.- Well, he doesn't share that opinion.

Ferreras.- Do you understand that Unidas Podemos and Pablo Iglesias could be hurt by this? They were a major force in ensuring that your vote of no confidence went through, in ensuring that you took over the Presidency of the Government and yet now you turn round and say that you don't trust Pablo Iglesias.

President of the Government.- No, It's not that I don't trust him, it's due to our differences of opinion.

Ferreras.- You trusted him before.

President of the Government.- Of course, but look, when he speaks, for example, about coalition governments in Europe… there are no coalition governments or very few coalition governments in Europe that do not have an absolute majority. That's the first point. In other words, what does Spain need? Spain needs stability Antonio. And stability means a government that has an absolute majority, and unfortunately I don't have an absolute majority by forming a government with Mr Iglesias. We don't have 176 seats between us.

Nor do I have stability in certain key elements of Spanish politics, which isn't the case in Germany, Italy or France; unfortunately we are suffering from a crisis of co-existence in Catalonia. And thirdly, where is the stability in regards to the co-responsibility of actions that are being taken by people, for example, like this MP in La Rioja who is blocking the formation of a left-wing regional government? Because what did Mr Iglesias say to me the other day in his interview? These are regional federations; I have nothing to do with that decision.

Ferreras.- I can assure you that Pablo Iglesias is extremely angry about what has happened today in La Rioja.

President of the Government.- I don't know whether…good, but, in the end, what does it matter? So, what is he saying to me? Will he undertake to ensure that Ada Colau and the Comunes will support any decision the government needs to take if there is a crisis in Catalonia, such as the one in 2017? In short, I believe that we must also be very aware, firstly, of where the Spanish people have placed each of us by casting their vote, and secondly, of where the limitations are on understanding and cooperation that can be reached between our two political formations. This is very important in the social sphere, decisive in the area of ecological transition, undoubtedly fundamental in terms of democratic regeneration and social cohesion, but the differences are huge on issues that the Government of Spain and Spanish society is going to face over the coming years.

Ferreras.- You are heavily criticised by the People's Party and by Ciudadanos. Let's deal with each in turn: first, the People's Party and Pablo Casado. This is the party against which you brought a vote of no confidence for the first time in our democracy and that you threw them out of government and, furthermore, you are the proponent of "no means no", so how are you now going to ask the PP to commit to you?

President of the Government.- Of course, but just look, let's go back a moment to Unidas Podemos, the other day in a survey that you published, 70 something percent of Unidas Podemos voters are in favour of facilitating a government with the PSOE. 70 something percent. In other words, 7 out of 10. I believe that the decision of Unidas Podemos voters is unquestionable in terms of what the MPs should do on 25 July in the Lower House of Parliament. Aside from that, Mr Casado only has 66 seats, that is half of the seats that the PSOE has. This number doubles to 123 seats with those of Ciudadanos, and 145 seats with Vox, in other words there is no alternative majority to the formation of a government of the Socialist Party. The dilemma facing Mr Casado is very straight-forward. He either votes "no" and hence helps force a stalemate in Spain or he facilitates the formation of a government. That is the only dilemma that Mr Casado faces and must resolve.

The second dilemma that both Mr Casado and Mr Rivera must resolve, even after beating their chests so much, saying so often that I am on the side of the ETA terrorists, that I want to sell Catalonia off by negotiating with Bildu, that I want to sell Catalonia off…

Ferreras.- Is the Socialist Party negotiating with Bildu, by the way?

President of the Government.- We are not negotiating with Bildu. What is striking about all this is that Bildu and Esquerra Republica have said that they will abstain to facilitate the formation of a government in which they don't believe, while parties like Ciudadanos and the People's Party which state that they are Constitutional parties and advocate the stability of the State and beat their chests to this end, are not providing the State with any stability by helping form a government.

Ferreras.- Do you believe that it is possible because today there is a great deal of speculation…?

President of the Government.- By the way, what I would say to Mr Casado and to Mr Rivera is not to support me, not to vote in favour, but given that there is no alternative, because there is no alternative majority to the formation of a Socialist Party government, which there was back in 2016 which led to the crisis within the Socialist Party, is that they should at least abstain and facilitate the formation of a government.

Ferreras.- What will you say to Mr Rivera, because the last time he didn't even want to go to Moncloa Palace to meet with you. Will you phone him?

President of the Government.- The truth is that I have one thing to say to him. In 2016, I reached an agreement with 200 measures with Mr Rivera, and we should see if some of these measures today don't warrant the abstention of at least Mr Rivera to thus facilitate the formation of a government. But, at any event, I feel that as regards our citizens, the example that Mr Rivera is giving by not answering the calls from the President of the Government…

Ferreras.- Mr Rivera said to his voters during the election campaign that "I will not support Pedro Sánchez in any way whatsoever". So how can you ask him to change his mind now?

President of the Government.- And that's the question, isn't it? How the elections on 28 April were tackled by the right-wing and its three formations?

Ferreras.- Let's get rid of the baddie. Sánchez yes, Sánchez no.

President of the Government.- Of course, it was a referendum. And what did the Spanish people say? 28% backed the Socialist Party, with 123 seats, the People's Party received 16%, Ciudadanos 15% and Vox, a little more than 10%. Hence, the Spanish people said "no" to this referendum that they artificially wanted to propose. What I can say is that the right wing should also analyse the results of the elections and take note of what the public has said. If they don't make this analysis, then they become stuck in their radical positions and will lead Spain to a stalemate. But this stalemate also brings their position into question. We should remember that both the People's Party and Ciudadanos have also criticised the Socialist Party for its reliance on the pro-independence forces. If they abstain in the investiture session, the vote of the pro-independence forces doesn't count. It has no value.

Ferreras.- Regardless of what they are talking about these days, for example today, I don't know whether you have seen the front cover of the daily newspaper El Mundo, the separatists are mobilising to help facilitate your investiture - that includes Esquerra, and even parts of Junts per Catalunya and Bildu. According to this information, they would prefer to see you as President of the Government.

President of the Government.- Let me tell you something, there is also some information that says they are trying to reduce the pressure on the responsibility that the People's Party and Ciudadanos are under, and that they are trying to create a form of pipe dream. Junts per Catalunya has already said that its members will vote against my investiture, if Esquerra Republicana and Bildu do anything it will be to abstain, they will never vote in favour of my candidature, and hence, the result is the same - the numbers are what they are.

We can go round and round with the same argument, but in the end it comes down to pure parliamentary mathematics, and this leads us to whether or not we want to see what our citizens have said become a reality, which is to see a government headed up by the Socialist Party, with or without Podemos in this government, and which does not depend on the pro-independence forces. To do this, we logically need to reach an understanding with Unidas Podemos, and there you have, firstly, the proposal that I made them - a coalition government, without Mr Iglesias as a member of this coalition government, and secondly, for Mr Casado and Mr Rivera to assume their share of responsibility, not to me, but to Spain, to the State, and facilitate the formation of a government by abstaining.

Ferreras.- Would you be prepared to discuss some type of condition with the PP and Ciudadanos for them to abstain?

President of the Government.- I have already proposed this in the private talks I have had with Mr Casado and with Mr Rivera.

Ferreras.- Would that be compatible with ministers from Unidas Podemos?

President of the Government.- Yes, it would. What can you ask for an abstention? I said to Mr Rivera in the only conversation I had with him, more than a month ago, what do you want for your abstention? Let's negotiate the abstention, I don't have any problem with that. By the way, that is being used by Mr Iglesias in a twisted fashion; I am not negotiating with the right wing, I have very clear who my preferred partners are, which in this case is Unidas Podemos. I want to govern from the left, I want a progressive government, but I understand that if we want a progressive government that doesn't depend on the pro-independence forces, then pure parliamentary maths leads you to look at the People's Party and Ciudadanos, who I am not asking to applaud me or to vote in my favour; the only thing I am asking is for them to abstain, not for my benefit, but for Spain's benefit, that country they say they love so much.

Ferreras.- President of the Government, Unidas Podemos can either think about blocking the investiture or not, and then wait and see in September.

President of the Government.- Look, I am not a candidate in August or September.

Ferreras.- But that might happen, don't you think?

President of the Government.- That is because our citizens have not been properly told about how the system works, the system is…

Ferreras.- But another round of contacts could be held to decide again…

President of the Government.- But the King has taken the decision that I, as the leading parliamentary force, should stand for the investiture. At least what we are doing with this investiture, if it fails in the end, is unblocking the stalemate and starting the countdown for the next two months, from when… What I have to say to Mr Iglesias is that any formula for an understanding after his vote or abstention, after a failed investiture next week will never again involve a coalition.

Ferreras.- Do you think it will be much more difficult if we get to September?

President of the Government.- Absolutely. I have warned Messrs. Iglesias, Casado and Rivera of that. I said to them, look, if you remain stuck in your positions, if you refuse to budge, if you keep beating your chests and continue saying "no" then you will not facilitate and that you will even, as the People's Party said, frustrate the formation of the Government of Spain and thus not implement what the Spanish people asked for in the ballot box, and this will become even more complicated in September than in July.

Ferreras.- President of the Government, do you realise that these snap elections will mean that this disenchantment at politics will become more acute, and be like a sledgehammer to many citizens, particularly those on the left, who say "How is it that you cannot reach an agreement? Snap elections again? We have already voted".

President of the Government.- Let's see, I indeed share somewhat this generalised disenchantment. It makes no sense, we have not only voted once, but twice, on 28 April and 26 May; and the verdict from the ballot box is unquestionable. People want the Socialist Party to govern. It is the leading political force. Moreover, in the elections on 26 May, in the European elections, the Socialist Party did not win a 28% share as it did on 28 April, but it won more than 30%, 31% in total. In other words, this electoral support by Spanish society is even more unquestionable.

Now, I would disagree on one point. If the Spanish public unfortunately feels compelled by the irresponsibility and the stalemate caused by some political formations to go back to the ballot box, then it will take part. Citizens vote for a government to be formed, that is what they want. There will be people who don't like, for example, the government that is formed in Madrid or in Murcia, which does not respect the party that is most voted for to form a government, but that is a parliamentary reality and hence in four years the balance of this administration will be seen, and in four years, when elections are called, our citizens will decide whether they want this formula or not. But what is not acceptable is for these political parties to say "no" to the only form of government, which is one headed up by the Socialist Party. Not Mr Iglesias no, because he does not form part of the government. And the People's Party and Ciudadanos because they consider that they cannot vote for the Socialist Party, at least to facilitate the formation of a government.

Well look, Mr Ferreras, I can do a lot. In truth, I have met with Mr Iglesias on up to as many as five occasions, and I have said to him that members of Podemos can be included in the government. What else can I do? I have to maintain the general interest of my country. I also have to be aware of the challenges we are facing. We need some generosity from the rest of the political parties, we honestly do, and I believe that it would not only be very good for the country but also for themselves and for their electoral outlook.

Ferreras.- Have you listened to the former Presidents of the Government José María Aznar and Felipe González? Furthermore, in the last few hours, they have also asked for political centrality, saying that it has been lost, and they were very critical of today's politicians - of all of them. Moreover, I heard former President of the Government González sending you all to the corner to think. What do you think about this thought from the two of them?

President of the Government.- Well, let's deal with things one by one. As regards Mr Aznar, he used terrorism as an electoral weapon.

Ferreras.- It would seem that Felipe González has forgotten that…

President of the Government.- In these recent electoral processes, Mr Aznar has said that the Socialist Party is not a constitutionalist party. In all honesty, I don't see that as being political centrality. What's more, if Mr Aznar advocated political centrality, what he could do is tell Mr Casado to abstain. And as regards Felipe, whilst absolutely respecting his criteria and his opinion, I can't say anything else, but I would like him to say the same as he said back in 2016, that the People's Party and Ciudadanos should abstain and facilitate the formation of a government.

Ferreras.- Will the President of the Government call Pablo Iglesias again?

President of the Government.- I will call all three of them over the course of the coming days.

Ferreras.- Is Unidas Podemos still your preferred partner?

President of the Government.- Absolutely.

Ferreras.- Does your offer still stand?

President of the Government.- Absolutely, it still stands, right up until the day the votes are cast. Afterwards, there will be no other offer. I will call for responsibility from everyone, and hence for everyone to abstain so that at least the most voted for party can govern, in other words, for that to be respected. And I will also speak with Mr Casado and with Mr Rivera to persuade them to facilitate the formation of a government and so that the Spanish people can go on holiday in August knowing that Spain has not shut down, that there is no stalemate and that it has a government.

Ferreras.- President of the Government, when you speak with Pablo Iglesias, you will maintain the offer, but to some extent you will say to him that you have taken a step backwards, we have an investiture agreement, you have your people and you have Unidas Podemos. But when he asks you why he cannot go into the cabinet meetings, in that room in the background, what three reasons will you give him?

President of the Government.- Antonio, I have answered this many times. What do you think I have been doing all these past weeks except talking with Mr Iglesias about the positions that Unidas Podemos will hold in the government, and his participation in the government?

Ferreras.- And what reasons will you give him or will you try and persuade him again to take a step back?

President of the Government.- First, that a government of that nature would not work, that the conditions are not right for Mr Iglesias to join that government. Firstly because of the deep-seated differences we have on matters of State that would paralyse the government's action. Secondly, because I cannot allow someone to join the government under the guise of the argument that he wants to watch over me, because he doesn't trust me. Thirdly, we have an organisation - Unidas Podemos - that does not guarantee me homogeneity in the decisions of many of its members, as we have unfortunately seen in La Rioja.

Ferreras.-Do you feel any loyalty there?

President of the Government.- Of course, and I am grateful for that, which is why I am allowing qualified ministers from Unidas Podemos to join the cabinet, to form part of the Council of Ministers. Does that sound like too little to you for a political formation that cannot even guarantee me an absolute majority in Parliament?

Ferreras.- President of the Government, could we end up having snap elections and seeing a result which, while not the same, would be similar unless there is a political meltdown?

President of the Government.- Well, we will see. The Spanish people are also taking note of what has happened over recent months and, I stress, I believe that the Spanish people, in the end, when they vote, will vote for a government and hence, what they also want is for us politicians to do our duty, which is to facilitate the formation of a government next week, and not in August or September. They don't want snap elections to be called on 10 November. Look at what is going to happen this autumn in Spain and in Europe; things are very serious. We are going to have the ruling in the 'Procés', then, on 31 October, the deadline runs out that we gave the United Kingdom for a negotiated withdrawal from the European Union. Will the People's Party, Ciudadanos and Unidas Podemos allow Spain to have a caretaker government when all of this is happening? That would be extraordinarily irresponsible in my opinion.

Ferreras.-Are you concerned by the reaction from the pro-independence forces if a guilty ruling is handed down by the Supreme Court in the 'procés' trial? Do you have any information on what this reaction could be like?

President of the Government.- I have Heard Mr Torra, who is the President of the Regional Government of Catalonia and he is saying that they will repeat the process. I don't want him to do that, but what the President of the Government must do, and this is something I want to convey to all the people of Catalonia and to the Spanish people in general, is guarantee territorial integrity, national sovereignty, the constitutional order and the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia.

Ferreras.- President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, I am aware that these are particularly tough and long days, thank you for being here with us, good luck next week and in your negotiations.

President of the Government.- Thank you

Ferreras.- Thank you, Mr President of the Government.

(Transcript edited by the State Secretariat for Communication)

Non official translation