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Interview on the programme 'Hoy por Hoy' on Cadena Ser

Moncloa Palace, Madrid, Tuesday 1 October 2019

PEDRO SÁNCHEZ, Acting President of the Government.

Interviewer: Angels Barceló

 

Q: Good morning.

Acting President of the Government: Good morning.

Q: Did you sleep well?

Acting President of the Government: Yes, I tend to sleep well. It's true that on many occasions, the media criticise the wooden language of politicians; and when colloquial expressions are used to say things you believe in, for example, that, well, I had many doubts about whether I could give in to some of the demands made by Mr Iglesias, to run or manage the public treasury, or energy policy, or social security, and I said that not only I but 95% of Spanish people, including Unidas Podemos voters, would not rest easy in that case, well, it's true that it generated some controversy.

So I don't want to seem reproachful, but to a certain extent that was also what happened in those months.

Q: So you normally sleep well. Does Catalonia affect your sleep now?

Acting President of the Government: Well, Catalonia has been experiencing a major crisis of co-existence for more than 10 years now. I've always said, not only as President of the Government, but as Leader of the Opposition, that in Catalonia we need a great deal of patience, calm, and above all we have to ask Catalan separatists to be aware that the problem there is not independence but co-existence.

We have been very clear from the start. The formula for Catalonia is clear. There are three basic principles: the first is democratic firmness; the second is the unity of all the political parties; and the third is proportionality.

What do I mean by democratic firmness? Well, you have to defend the Spanish Constitution and the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia. In other words, you have to defend the institutions that guarantee co-existence in Catalonia.

Second, there is unity. I believe that if some kind of extraordinary decision has to be taken over the coming months, well, obviously, we have to do so together with all the national political parties.

And third, there is proportionality. We are not a Government that wants to exaggerate the situation or pour on the troubled waters that there may already be in Catalonia, which would be in the interest of separatism. So these three principles are what will guide any type of decision that I take in the future, if I have to take one.

Q: We're going to talk about these possible future decisions, these extraordinary positions you talked to me about; first let's review what's happening in Catalonia and other matters, because it is 1 October, this interview is being held on this date.

[Sastre: In Catalonia, there have been demonstrations today on 1 October, which aim in some way this to be a test for the date when the judgment on the trial of those who acted to force through independence...]

Mr Acting President of the Government, we were asking you about Catalonia and I asked if you have to take extraordinary decisions in the coming months. On 1 October, this prior declaration, resolution, approved in the Regional Parliament of Catalonia on institutional disobedience... Are the circumstances in place so that when you tell me about extraordinary decisions you are thinking of Article 155?

Acting President of the Government: Well, Article 155 is a perfectly legitimate instrument, similar to any other constitution more or less of the same type of system that we have: in Germany, in federal systems, which is what we now have in Spain.

Second, with respect to what happened last week in the Regional Parliament of Catalonia, we have already announced that we will appeal it before the Constitutional Court. We are also going to send an official request to the Regional Parliament of Catalonia in relation to resolutions of this type and that are presented by the pro-independence majority in Parliament.

What I hope is that in the end they will not continue creating a bigger rift, to there not being co-existence in Catalonia; that in short, there will be more errors, some that in fact we have seen in recent weeks, such as not dissociating themselves from, not condemning, firmly and clearly, any type of violence: quite the reverse. We've seen the President of the Regional Government of Catalonia support, and even trivialise some of the actions of the judiciary, and also of the State law enforcement agencies. This appeared serious to us, from a political point of view.

We don't make threats; but we do warn. The main responsibility of any government is to guarantee security; in this case, also co-existence in Catalonia. And what I ask from the Catalan separatists is that they don't play with fire.

Q: What does play with fire mean, Acting President of the Government?

Acting President of the Government: Not to condemn violence, any sign of violence, wherever it comes from, even if comes from radical elements, from separatism. And that is what we are seeing from the current President of the Regional Government of Catalonia. So we, I said it the other day in... in Barcelona, and I am repeating it today. We are going to follow events very closely. What we are going to guarantee is security and co-existence in Catalonia, there's no doubt about that. And what we ask from the separatists is that they don't play with fire, that they don't commit the most serious error that can be committed, which is, well, looking the other way if there are signs of violence, as unfortunately we saw last week.

Q: And if they continue to play with fire? Well, since this is also still a caretaker government. I don't know what can be done with Article 155 in this situation?

Acting President of the Government: Obviously, a caretaker government has much more limited capacities. But in any case, Article 155 can be applied by a caretaker government; there's no problem about that. This is something that the Government of Spain has clearly looked into, and there is no problem from a constitutional point of view. There is no doubt of its legitimacy, because Parliament, in this case the Upper House, even though it is through the Standing Committee, remains open, in the sense that it remains with its full powers; and so you can be in no doubt that there would be the possibility of being able to act through Article 155.

But I repeat what I said before, that there are three key elements on which a response in Catalonia can be based.

The first is democratic firmness. What we have always supported is self-rule in Catalonia. If this self-rule of Catalonia is moved outside the law by the separatist parties, the Government of Spain has the obligation, the responsibility, to resume this self-rule, which is what guarantees co-existence.

The second is the unity of all political parties. And you can be sure I will speak to all the political leaders if I have to take this type of decision, and I will also try to make sure they are... in government, as I was when unfortunately we had to apply it and [Mariano] Rajoy was President of the Government.

And finally, I believe that proportionality is essential. The parliamentary legitimacy we have is not so important; but social legitimacy is. In other words, the society of Catalonia, and the whole of Spain, must understand that the decisions taken by the Government of Spain were to guarantee something so basic, so essential, as the co-existence and security of all citizens.

Q: You said that when the time comes you will speak to all the political parties. Have you not spoken to any of them so far? I'm asking you this because at the People's Party (Partido Popular), Pablo Casado said the other day that the National Security Act should be applied. Others are also calling for the prosecution of Quim Torra, that the Criminal Code should be applied. Have you begun to speak to any of the political parties?

Acting President of the Government: I haven't taken any decisions yet. I'll tell you another thing: I'm not the President of the Socialist Party. I am Acting President of the Government of all the Spanish people. Mr Casado is the President of the People's Party, but he is Leader of the Opposition. What do I mean by that? That they don't have to support the Socialist Party government, if some extraordinary measure of this type has to be taken, but they should support the State; support, in fact, something as basic as what brings us together, such as territorial integrity, national sovereignty and co-existence; in this case, of a specific autonomous region such as Catalonia.

But I repeat, I hope we don't have to go that far. I believe that this should not fall on deaf ears; that the Catalans are very aware of what happened in 2017, with the "disconnection" laws, with the non-referendum when, in fact, as was mentioned before by Mr Gabilondo (I believe quite correctly), the turnout was lower, at around 43-44% of those eligible to vote, than in the Catalan regional elections, which always had a turnout, above all those of the most recent elections, of more than 75%. In other words, if there is a legitimacy, it is precisely that of the regional elections in Catalonia. It is then that everyone takes part, and the Catalan separatists have never won more than 50% there, although they have a parliamentary majority as a result of the law governing elections. And so what I say is that I don't want to reach that point; and that democratic firmness will mean the unity of all the political parties. And I want proportionality to guide my response if I am obliged to do it.

Q: Do you think that you can count on Podemos, if you have to, if the time comes?

Acting President of the Government: I would like that to be the case. In recent months, one of the questions that I have often proposed is that I would like a progressive government, a stable government; in other words, one that does not depend on the separatists, a government that is cohesive. And when I say cohesive, I mean above all on questions that are related to co-existence or on how to resolve a crisis that has been brewing for some time in Catalonia, which is, well, as I said before, a crisis of co-existence.

Can you imagine, for example, a government in which part of it supports the Constitution and the possible application of Article 155, while another part says there are political prisoners in Catalonia, and that a referendum for self-determination has to be organised to resolve the crisis in Catalonia?

I believe there are common elements that we have with Unidas Podemos, which are related to social policies; but it is also true that there are other matters that have to do with co-existence which separates us.

But in any case, I have put that behind me. I don't want to make any kind of reproach, because I believe that the Spanish people don't deserve it; and I am going to propose a positive campaign, because I believe that it is important that on 10 November the Spanish people should vote for a clear majority so that a Government of Spain can be formed.

Q: Were the differences with respect to Catalonia among the reasons why you wouldn't have slept soundly, if there were a hypothetical coalition government?

Acting President of the Government: I spoke a great deal with Mr Iglesias. I believe there were sufficient elements in common, but also some contradictory elements that were very difficult to arrange together through the government.

Nevertheless, I also offered Mr Iglesias a coalition government, which he rejected. But for me it was very important not only to think in terms of the investiture but also think about the legislature; in other words, about having a horizon of stability that allows us to make progress with respect to social justice. That was the basic proposal we put forward to the Spanish people on 28 April.

Spanish politics is very complex. Whenever there is an election a new political party appears. What's more, even now (returning to Catalonia) we see that the political parties that call themselves separatist make the effort to stand for the Spanish Parliament. The last was CUP, wasn't it?

But I believe that the more political options there are on the table the clearer it becomes that there is only one political party that guarantees the three essential elements needed for the next four years:  first, stability; second, coherence in political action; and third: a progressive response to many of the challenges and urgent issues that Spain has to deal with.

Q: I'll come back to the investiture, and what could happen after the elections. But I still want to ask you one last thing on Catalonia. Do you trust the Mossos d'Esquadra [regional police force]?

Acting President of the Government: Yes.

Completely?

Acting President of the Government: Yes.

Q: Despite the resignation yesterday of its head?

Acting President of the Government: Look, in terms of technical coordination, which is the coordination carried out by the Ministry of Home Affairs, by the Government Delegation, in other words, by the National Police and Guardia Civil with the Mossos d'Esquadra, as of today I have to say that it is extremely positive. And I believe that that is precisely what I supported the other day in Catalonia. We have to not only highlight and support the independence of the judges, in this case, because of the arrest of seven or eight members of the CDR, but also because the regional and national law enforcement agencies are working well.

Q: I would like to return to the investiture and what we were talking about. You said that this is not the time for reproach... How do you recover trust in someone? And I mention this because the lack of mutual trust, which was mentioned by both of you - Pablo Iglesias and yourself - has been one of the impediments preventing the investiture from being a success. How do you recover someone's trust? If you are prepared to recover it; that's the first point.

Acting President of the Government: I don't have... I mean, I have always tried to have the best possible relations from a personal point of view. And in fact, I have good relations with Mr Iglesias and with other political leaders... with Mr Casado. Well, with Mr Rivera relations are non-existent, because he doesn't answer the phone. Well, it's curious, but there are Catalan politicians, in this case Mr Torra and Mr Rivera, who prefer contact with me via letter. Not that I mean anything by that; I mean, I have no problem with relations via letter with political leaders. With Mr Rivera it's clear that I have not had any kind of relations, because he has refused to answer the phone, right?

But I think that I have good relations with Mr Iglesias in personal terms. From a political point of view, I had two questions that made it seem very difficult to achieve a coalition government. The first problem is that there is a basic disagreement in terms of how to resolve the crisis in Catalonia. And second; well, given that in the end I accepted the fact that there could be a coalition government... a political party that does not have any experience in public management; or if we take into account that in the public management of some local councils it has run up deficits... well, to hand the social security system over to them, in other words the pensions of our elderly... And talking of energy policy, when we are talking about one of the elements of our country's competitiveness, with the ecological transition we have to make... Or the treasury; in other words, the management of the collection of our country's taxes; well, all this seemed fairly risky to me.

We offered what we considered an organisation such as Unidas Podemos could be more interested in, as an organisation that was created precisely for social issues; but it was not sufficient for Mr Iglesias.

But I repeat, I don't mean to start with reproaches. I believe that this stage has passed, and that now we have to look at the question that has to be answered on 10 November. The question that has to be answered is: whether on 11 November, in other words on the day after, will we continue to be blocked, or do we want a government? And the only political party right now that can guarantee that there is a government in this country is the Socialist Party.

Q: Could you tell me one thing. How can the situation be redirected? Because Unidas Podemos has moved from being a preferred partner to being an extreme left-wing party, as you called it in an interview on CNN. How can it once more become a preferred partner?

Acting President of the Government: But that was something I did because I was in the United States; it was an interview on CNN+. When they talk about Podemos in English they say... and the precise translation of the expression in Spanish is extreme left. I didn't say it in pejorative terms.

Q: It's not that I think you did.

Acting President of the Government: I stand by that. No, no.  It is, obviously, to the left of the Socialist Party but I didn't say what I said with any underlying intent, but in the context of an interview in the United States, simply and plainly. But well, as they try to find the worst in everything here, well, what can you do? But I have very good...

Q: But is it possible to redirect the situation? Have you spoken again to Pablo Iglesias after the failure of the investiture?

Acting President of the Government: No, but I don't have, let's see... I can agree about what social policies, on policies, for example, related to ecology, on policies for equality between men and women. On questions of this kind, Unidas Podemos are our allies. But I repeat, we have our clear differences and discrepancies.

The fact is that today, yesterday, we heard the comunes (Catalunya en Comú) in Catalonia (which is a kind of branch of Unidas Podemos in Catalonia) talk about political prisoners: questioning the work and the independence of judges and the State law enforcement agencies in the case of the arrest of the members of CDR, saying that after the ruling the "comunes" will join forces with the separatists to request amnesty for the Catalan prisoners who now are on trial before the Supreme Court.

So there are basic questions that mean we have very serious divisions and discrepancies with Unidas Podemos. But does that mean we cannot understand each other on other matters? I have always said that we can. Look, who helped us pass laws in these 15 months of government, following the vote of no-confidence, until the elections of 28 April? Who helped us approve the minimum wage? Who helped us approve the recovery of the allowance for people over the age of 52? Who helped us approve the recovery of the National Insurance contributions of non-professional care givers in the Long-Term Care System? Who helped us in practice, for example, in this non-government, have we approved the start of the parliamentary procedure creating a new right in our National Health System, which is the right to euthanasia? Well, it was Unidas Podemos.

But I repeat, there are issues that are, let's say, key, core, which we should not in any way play down, above all the left, when we see a right-wing that wants to take over and privatise the idea of Spain. I believe it is important that we should lay claim to another type of inclusive, diverse, tolerant Spain that loves freedom and equality, but that above all guarantees what belongs to everyone: this common heritage, this common fatherland, which is Spain.

Q: So, tell me one thing: can we consider that if the left wins it will form a government? Or will we have another failed attempt?

Acting President of the Government: No, no, I don't think so. There is much talk about 10 November. On 10 November, voters will have more information, no doubt: for example, if you look at Ciudadanos, before 28 April, I'm convinced that if you had a Ciudadanos voter here he or she would say "I don't have any doubt that if [Manuel] Valls has to choose between having Ada Colau or Ernst Maragall as mayor, he would support Ada Colau, who is the best of a bad lot, rather than for the separatists to take power over what is no more or less than the City Council of Barcelona." Today [Manuel] Valls has been thrown out of Ciudadanos for voting that way. I don't have any doubt that if you asked a Unidas Podemos voter before 28 April whether he or she was going to try to prevent the formation of a progressive government led by the Socialist Party, well he or she would have said not at all, that [Pablo] Iglesias would not make the same mistake he made in 2016. But he did it again.

Q: Yes, but there will also be voters who with this information would say that you always wanted to form a government alone.

Acting President of the Government: Look - and I've always said it, Angels. I've always said, and you've heard me say it, that I had many doubts with respect to a coalition government with Unidas Podemos, precisely because we have had a timetable imposed on us, which is the Catalan issue, the judgment in the Catalan case. This is what I said in public and in private to Mr Iglesias, but in any case, in the end I said yes to a coalition government. I believe I was flexible where I thought I could guarantee this coherence, this stability needed by the Government of Spain.

Q: But why didn't you offer it again after the summer?

Acting President of the Government: Well, because I believe that there was a big gap opening up, after 25 July when Unidas Podemos once more prevented the formation of a government; and once more would put on the bargaining table questions that are related to energy policy, as I said, the public treasury and social security. And I repeat, yesterday good social security figures were released related to the collection of National Insurance contributions; but we still face some major challenges: one, how to guarantee the dignity of pensions; and two, how to guarantee the sustainability of pensions, not only today but also for your pension, my pension and those who come after us. In short, I don't want to reproach anyone because I believe that you have to look forward; and in these elections of 10 November, there are questions that we have to answer to the people: the first is whether we can manage to emerge from this stalemate and form a government on 11 November; the second I believe has a lot to do with some of the suggestions we made on 28 April: Spain has been beset by provisionality, temporariness, uncertainty, for some time. I believe that we have to install a period of stability to tackle the true challenges facing our country. And what do I think they are? Well, there's employment and pensions, the ecological transition, the digital transition and the impact that they will have not only on the labour market but also on the educational system, on real and effective equality between men and women, the fight against social exclusion, and without doubt also the participation of a Spain united in diversity for a common goal, which is Europe. Europe needs to be strengthened against those who want to weaken it precisely at a time in which the world is dominated by superpowers. Either we join together or, unfortunately, Europe's influence will languish, as will its capacity to make this world move along a path of values and principles that are closer to the European ideal.

Q: You mentioned the economy just now. Mr Zapatero denied what everyone saw, which was the arrival of the crisis. In fact, he used a variety of terms in order not to call it a crisis. Yesterday, we received figures on the economy, which grew at a slower pace of 0.4% instead of 0.5%. Are you going to warn the Spanish people that the crisis is coming?

Acting President of the Government: Well, let's see. First of all, I'd like to give my support to the former President of the Government Zapatero; well, Zapatero didn't see it, but neither did the International Monetary Fund, or the OECD.

Q: And are we seeing the current crisis?

Acting President of the Government: Let's see. I said it the other day and I'll say it again today. I believe that we have to keep our eyes wide open. We have to take all precautionary measures possible, but the truth is that we shouldn't become alarmist either, or complacent. What is it that I mean by that? Well yes, we are experiencing a certain slowdown of our economy. It's also true that there are other institutions, for example, the Bank of Spain, which not long ago reduced its growth forecast for this year from 2.4% to 2% after increasing it in the first half of the year; in contrast, the Government of Spain has maintained it at 2.2%, in other words we have been much more conservative than any other institution at a national and European level, but the forecasts remain positive. That is to say, we continue to grow above the European average; in the last 12 months we have created more than 480,000 jobs; look, we are going to end the year with the lowest level of public debt in the last seven years; we have a public deficit of around 2%, which is how we are going to close this year; and that is the lowest of the last decade. In short, there are pillars, sound foundations for our economy; although obviously, well, what [Donald] Trump does with China is something that goes beyond our responsibility.

Q: Let me ask you something that can be answered with a yes or no: is there the risk of a crisis in Spain?

Acting President of the Government: Economic?

Q: Yes.

Acting President of the Government: I would say that there is a risk of an economic crisis in the world, in Europe, and so in Spain.

Q: What impact could Brexit have? I don't know if the Government has already quantified the impact that Brexit could have economically.

Acting President of the Government: Yes. There are some reports by the Bank of Spain which say that in the next five years, in the worst possible scenario, in other words with a hard Brexit, we would have an impact of 0.8% on our gross domestic product. To make it easier for our listeners, in terms of value in euros it would be around 9.8 billion euros as a cumulative total over five years.

We have prepared a three-pronged response. First, a regulatory response. We have approved a Contingency Plan through a Royal Decree-Law at the start of this year as a response to the most prosaic, ordinary issues, such as the staff in customs, on the border, etc. Second, we have also planned an information campaign for all Spanish citizens, as there are many who live in the UK and there are the British who live here in Spain. To give you an idea, there are more British people in Spain than anywhere else in Europe. And third, what we have done is to work with the UK - also with the EU but in particular with the UK - to guarantee reciprocity. What do I mean by that? That the British people who live in Spain will have all their rights guaranteed, so obviously Spanish people in the UK also have to have their rights guaranteed.

In this respect, I have to say that in the conversations I had, first of all, with the British Prime Minister Theresa May and now with the current Prime Minister Boris Johnson, they have guaranteed this reciprocity. So the Spanish people who live in the UK and also the families that are listening to us should be aware that this is the political will of the Government of Spain.

Q: [Francisco] Franco. When will the exhumation take place? Do you have a date in mind? I imagine you have a date in mind?

Acting President of the Government: Yes. But the truth is I don't want to risk it, because otherwise these things can work against me. I've learned the hard way.

Q: I promise I won't say anything against it, just tell me the date. If you don't meet it I won't say anything. I'll whistle.

Acting President of the Government: First of all, let's congratulate ourselves. Because in fact it has not been such a long process. After all, we've only been waiting for 40 years. It's been a long year in which there have been many appeals from the Franco family, the dictator's family, which has appealed against practically everything, even the alleged safety of the workers who are to remove the gravestone. That's the level we've reached. But even so, the Supreme Court, unanimously I think, has been extremely firm. So it has been a victory for dignity, for memory; in short, it is a victory for Spanish democracy. Given that, what I can guarantee is that we are going to do it as soon as possible. In other words, we now have to go to the Council of Ministers and thus approve the enforcement order of the dictator's exhumation and subsequent reburial.

From the point of view of the procedure it will take a few weeks, and what I believe is the symbolic point of view for Spanish democracy... look, I'll tell you in very humble terms but in a way that everyone can understand; when we talk about this news item, everyone remembers their family members, their grandparents, parents, who are not among us but who I'm sure are more at peace now. I believe that from a symbolic point of view, this is a great victory for democracy.

Q: Before the end of the election campaign? Because you are going to leave without giving me a date. Next week?

Acting President of the Government: I'd like for it not to be during the election campaign, but I'd like it to be as soon as possible. Because, well, we have everything in place. We have the OK, to put it in colloquial terms, from the Supreme Court, and so when we have the operational and other things deployed from the material point of view, we'll be able to do it.

Q: I know that you know the date.

Acting President of the Government: Well, we're putting the final touches to things a little and in the end I can't give the date.

Q: Next week?

Acting President of the Government: You'll know after a Council of Ministers meeting, because the Council of Ministers must be in charge of the situation.

Q: Will we know the date on Friday?

Acting President of the Government: Among other things I can also tell you - because that's how things are and that's how they should be - that we have to notify the family when we are going to carry out the exhumation and reburial of the remains of their family member.

Q: And if the family asks for State Honours?

Acting President of the Government: I think that these types of things are pure science fiction. They can ask whatever they want, but that is science fiction.

Q: Let me enter the area of sport. If it was a question for the government, would the Football Super Cup of Spain be played in Saudi Arabia?

Acting President of the Government: The other day they asked us this at the Council of Ministers; and in truth, I have to tell you that I don't have an opinion about it; I don't know. A President of the Government undoubtedly has to occupy himself with many things, but of course, the Super Cup, the league or the Spanish national football team...

Q: But as President of the Spanish Government, as a Spaniard, as a follower of Spanish football, would you like the cup to be played in Saudi Arabia?

Acting President of the Government: It was in Morocco one or two years ago, wasn't it? I have to tell you that I like basketball more than football.

Q: I know....

Acting President of the Government: But in any case, I repeat, I don't know what the reasons are; I imagine that the Minister for Culture will talk to the federation. Honestly, I have to say that I have no opinion about this.

Q: And another question. Let's see if you have an opinion about this. It's more as General Secretary of the Party than as President of the Government. What's going on with the Mayor of Móstoles? No one is moving her from where she is.

Acting President of the Government: What's happening in Móstoles is very striking, but I have to tell you that in fact I know the Mayor of Móstoles, and there are things that surprise me that I am learning about from the media. I can see...

Q: Shouldn't the PSOE take some kind of measures?

Acting President of the Government: I understand that the Socialist Party in Madrid is looking into this and whatever the Socialist Party in Madrid does will be done well.

Q: Are you going on the campaign trail now?

Acting President of the Government: I'm going to Huesca now, then to Zaragoza, and above all I'm keeping close track of what happens in Catalonia. So we're going to be busy.

Q: Is today going to be a long day?

Acting President of the Government: Today is going to be a long day, but I hope that it will be a quiet day. I believe that many things have happened in Catalonia, I think that what Catalan society wants is to move on. We are at what I believe is a very important moment with respect to everything that has happened in these last 10 years, which has been the judicialisation of a political crisis, and I believe that what is important when the court hands down its ruling is that the crisis in Catalonia should return to the political arena. I have always said this to [Quim] Torra, and I have also told him in the Lower House of Parliament. We should remember that the diagnosis for what is happening in Catalonia is that there is a crisis of co-existence.

In my opinion, what separatists in Catalonia should do, because right now they are who govern in Catalonia, is to open up a process of dialogue with the non-separatist part. Given that, what the Government of Spain can do is support this dialogue, and without any doubt contribute to help resolve the crisis; not with harangues or agitation, not pouring oil on troubled waters. What cannot be demanded from the Government of Spain is: first, that it establishes dialogue outside the law: I've always said that the order is, first the law, then dialogue; and second, what cannot be demanded is that Madrid should try to respond to a crisis that represents - at least, in the case of the proposal they are bringing to the table, the referendum for self-determination - in the best of cases, 48% of the Catalan people. So we are talking about a minority. The majority in Catalonia has regularly said that it does not want independence.

Another matter is whether 52%, if we look at the percentages that the separatists handle, want the same thing nor not. There are people who even want recentralisation of powers in Catalonia; others want a stronger regional government in Catalonia; but in any case they do not want independence. So I believe it is important that separatists should recognise they are in a minority; and that in second place they should open up a process of dialogue with the non-separatists in Catalonia.

Q: Have you had any type of contact recently with any of the separatist leaders?

Acting President of the Government: I have to admit that I haven't... Well, I have with Mr Torra: these epistolary relations I've learned about through the press.

Q: The letters he sends you?

Acting President of the Government: Yes, the letters he sends me.

Q: That you don't answer.

Acting President of the Government: Yes, I do answer them. I always try to answer, probably, perhaps, not as quickly as he would like, but in any case I don't know whether they are letters designed to establish a dialogue with me or simply another tool for propaganda or electoral agitation, but they appear more the latter than the former because I learn more through the media than from the letters he writes me.

Q: As I'm asking you about contacts, have you spoken recently to [Íñigo] Errejón?

Acting President of the Government: No, with [Íñigo] Errejón I haven't...

Q: Since he announced he is standing you haven't spoke to him?

Acting President of the Government: No, I haven't had the chance to get to know him personally. I've been limited to hello and goodbye, but I haven't had the opportunity to speak to him.

Q: You don't know [Íñigo] Errejón personally?

Acting President of the Government: No, I don't. Well, in these kinds of things I am very... how shall I say it? I'm a little hierarchical. If the representative of Unidas Podemos is Pablo Iglesias, then I speak to Pablo Iglesias. What the media said about Mr Sánchez and the PSOE wanting to talk with [Alberto] Garzón and with others to see whether [Pablo] Iglesias could be made to see sense... I've always been very respectful, I've never wanted to get mixed up in internal matters. I believe that [Íñigo] Errejón is still, let's say, part of a struggle between leaders who belong to Unidas Podemos to see in what direction the party will move; and in short, I see it from some distance, with a great deal of respect...

Q: Are you going to talk to him before the elections, during the campaign? I don't know if you have plans to talk to him.

Acting President of the Government: Obviously I'll talk to him after the elections if he has representation in Parliament.

Q: Acting President of the Government, thank you very much. Good luck, and have a good campaign.

Acting President of the Government: Thank you.

(Transcript revised by the State Secretariat for Communication)

Non official translation