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Interview with the Acting President of the government on El Programa de Ana Rosa

Wednesday 9 October 2019

PEDRO SÁNCHEZ, Acting President of the government

Journalist: Ana Rosa Quintana

 

Q: President of the government - no, rather Acting President of the Government, welcome to the set. We haven't seen you here on this set for a long time - over two years - and a lot of things have happened since.

Acting President of the Government: A lot, yes.

Q: I was just mentioning it... I think that people are tired. In many cases, they are frustrated. There have been many elections - four elections in four years; and I believe that what people are asking for now, what we are asking for is not promises but realities. And I would like us to talk about realities this morning.

Acting President of the Government: Right.

Q: Rather than, well, wishes. I believe that all the parties have their wishes; but in the end, the opinion polls tell us what they tell us... the trends. You may become the next President of the Government, but it does not seem that you will be able to govern alone and without support. That will also depend on negotiations. You must be aware now that you ca no longer leave any negotiating tables.

Acting President of the Government: But look, what has happened in our country over these last 40 years is that there have practically been no absolute majorities; what there have been are minority governments that with legislative agreements have approved budgets and approved the laws that make up the governments' programmes.

And in fact, I was very aware over these recent months of the impasse we had reached. And the fact is that being the majority party, but with a parliamentary minority, we couldn't push through our election manifesto; we had to reach agreements with a variety of political parties. On matters linked to social justice we had to look to the left; and on questions related to matters on cross-party agreements, which are needed in foreign policy, anti-terrorism policy, security policy, well, obviously, we also called on the rest of the political parties, and particularly the conservative political parties.

I think that we all have to learn from what has happened over these months. I thank that what all the Spanish people have to do on 10 November is break the impasse and allow Spain to move forward, and move forward along three lines on which I consider it is necessary to make progress. One is social justice. The second is that of social harmony. And the third is an exemplary uprightness in public life.

Q: Well, we have to talk about many things, because the economy is beginning to find it tough going. Let's talk about possible agreements. By the way, what opinion polls do you have in Moncloa Palace? I ask because we are now seeing every week there are four or five polls, and when you average out the results, the polls tell you that the PSOE could have four seats more, but it could even have fewer; or it may remain as it is; but that's more or less the range they're giving us. I suppose that they will not be the expectations that you had before. What opinion polls do you have in Moncloa Palace? What do they tell you?

Acting President of the Government: I think that polls are a thermometer, Ana.  I think that the point is that all the polls, whether they give more or less to the Socialist Party, what they do say clearly is that if we want to break the impasse we have been suffering in recent months, we have to focus the vote on all those political parties that have most chances of being able to win the elections. Today there is only one such party in Spain, and it is the Socialist Party. We are the only ones who can break out of the situation, because in all the opinion polls we are the biggest political party. And second, we are the only ones who can guarantee something the Spanish people already told us they wanted on 28 April and on 26 May - because on 26 May there were also three elections: the municipal, the regional and the European; and the Socialist Party also won; what they told us is that there should be a progressive government. We want a progressive response to many of the problems we have ahead of us.

Q. But you had a progressive government within your grasp. You were round the table with Unidas Podemos and, in the end, it was possible, but it did not happen. Why are the people going to believe that after the elections you will form a government with Pablo Iglesias, who has already announced he is not withdrawing? And what's more, you have to sit at the negotiating table with Íñigo Errejón, and you don't talk to each other.

Acting President of the Government: Let's see. Any electoral process involves a question that is put to the people. On 28 April, it was clearly under threat from a right-wing that was divided into three - and actually with a tendency to rant, as we saw when the representative of Vox said that the Socialist Party is a criminal party. I find it rather curious that there has not been any ally of the far right, the People's Party (Partido Popular) or Ciudadanos, which has distanced itself and firmly condemned these types of accusations.

Q: (…)

Acting President of the Government:  Well, they haven't done so, as of today. But in any case, the response, or rather, the question posed on 28 April, was clear: whether we wanted to move forward or go backwards. Today the question is whether we want Spain to move forward or whether we want to subject it to another impasse. And there are many political parties, that's true. I have no objection to that, because a multi-party system is something that the people decide on with their votes on who represents them in the Lower House of Parliament.

Q: Could you reach an agreement with Pablo and Errejón?

Acting President of the Government: What I mean by that is, regardless of all the parties that stand for election - and at each election there are more parties standing - there are only two alternatives.

Q: (...) There are many small parties. I looked at the BOE [Official State Gazette], and I was...

Acting President of the Government: There are only two alternatives: to move forward; or to create an impasse. And moving forward, not creating an impasse, is as of today only guaranteed by the Socialist Party.

Q: Yes, but the Socialist Party will have to move forward hand-in-hand with someone. That may be Podemos, Errejón, and I don't know in the end if the PNV, it depends on the results; or it may be with Ciudadanos, although...

Acting President of the Government:  But don't you think that we are talking about the means and that we aren't talking about the objective?

Q: But the fact is that this is important, right now, precisely because of the impasse. We have been talking about it more than ever here, in other words during these elections, that it's very important for the leaders to say clearly with whom they want to commit themselves and with whom they don't.

Acting President of the Government: I have always said so... well, first of all, if you look abroad, for example, at what has happened in Portugal in the last 48 hours, the fact is that the Socialist Party won the elections in Portugal. Yesterday, there was a round with all the political parties, and as there is no alternative majority for to form government without the Socialist Party, the left and right (except for the far right) have said that they will support the government of the Socialist Party; and that what they are going to do is to negotiate with the Socialist Party and the right and left: State-level agreements in the case of the conservatives, and questions linked to social policies with the left.

What I mean to say is...

Q: Would you ideal situation be to have a Socialist Party government alone, with ad-hoc support?

Acting President of the Government: My ideal has always been something that I believe to be very reasonable; that is, a progressive government. Because that is what the majority of people choose with their vote: whether they want a progressive approach or a conservative approach to the challenges and threats we have to face as a country. 

Second, a certain stability to approve the Budget, which I believe is necessary in our country. And third, coherent action on the part of the government.

So we often talk a lot about the means, the instrument, but we don't talk about the objectives.

When we talked about a progressive government, obviously I had Mr Iglesias as a preferential partner.

Q: Is he still?

Acting President of the Government: Let's see. Ciudadanos and the People's Party have made agreements with the far right. What does the Socialist Party have in common with the far right? You have given us what Mr Abascal has said now, that we are a criminal party.

What he did a few days ago was insult the respect and the memory of the 13 women who were executed by firing squad for defending freedom and democracy in our country.

Q: A minority party. In any case, the People's Party still reproaches you for being in power in some places, such as Navarre, with the support of Bildu. I mean, in the end the numbers are what they are.

Acting President of the Government: Well, but... let's see. I'll tell you one thing: we have never reached an agreement with Bildu in Navarre.

Q: No? but you are governing with their support. And, vice versa.

Acting President of the Government: No, no, no. Let see. Before 26 May, there was a Bildu government in Navarre, together with other political parties; and today there isn't. We have not needed the positive support of Bildu to govern in Navarre, no. No. But this is very important.

Because in Madrid, in Murcia, in Castile-Leon or in Andalusia there have been arrangements for a positive vote, and so the involvement of the far right to govern, and to eject the Socialist Party, which won the elections in these autonomous regions.

What I mean by that is that it doesn't seem a minority party to me. What is it that I have often criticised the People's Party and Ciudadanos for? What I've criticised them for is that they are providing the far right with an influence in this country that the people have not given them with their votes.

So we have heard Ms Ayuso speaking today, for example, in the region of Madrid, about the burning of churches or the Mayor of Madrid saying that of course he does not agree (as Vox does not) with what the 8th of March and the feminist demonstrations represent. Or what is being done, for example, in Murcia, linked, for example, with gender equality, well, I think that... I'm referring to the minimising, the trivialising, let's say, of a movement that I believe is very important for our country. The People's Party and Ciudadanos are giving the far-right a...

Q: So we can forget a great coalition, can we?

Acting President of the Government: That is a trompe l'oeil. Let's see... and I've said it before.  What is it that the people chose with their votes? They chose a progressive or conservative approach for the government. And so, what they said on 28 April, and on 26 May, is that they want the solutions that are put on the negotiating table with respect to insecure jobs, the sustainability of pensions, the ecological transition of our economy, the reconstruction of the Welfare State, or, for example, the question of the inequality suffered by women in our country, including many victims who are retired and have pensions lower than those of men.. well, they should be given a progressive response.

Q: In Europe it's not unusual, it's very common for there to be coalition governments with ministers from each party, proportional to the number of votes received. In practically all countries. It may be that in Holland there has never been a government with an absolute majority.

Acting President of the Government: And in Spain, as well, there are coalition governments in the regions, in local councils. And I never....

Q: And in the Government of Spain? Do you have it in mind or not?

Acting President of the Government: I have never said [no] to sharing power. What I...

Q: Here, the other day, Pablo Iglesias...

Acting President of the Government: Well, Mr Iglesias has a slightly strange way of finding allies, or at least, working with those allies, doesn't he? The only thing that Mr Iglesias does is... I haven't heard any criticism of the People's Party or Ciudadanos or the far right from him. He only says things that are, let's say, slightly negative, or even very negative, about the Socialist Party. Well, it says a lot that Mr Iglesias has prevented the formation of a progressive government four times in these last four years.

But look, in answer to your question. I don't have any problem with sharing power, but I believe that the premise for a coalition government or a government that functions, a government that does not become paralysed from its own internal dynamics, or its internal contradictions, is that it should be, first, a progressive government. And second, there must be some stability, so that it does not depend on certain parties that do not share our national political agenda, which are the independence parties.  And third, it must be a coherent government. That's it.

Q: Well, we're at a dead end, Mr President of the Government.

Acting President of the Government: No, no, quite the contrary. Of course not. Look, it's very simple. Look what's happened in Portugal. Look at what I've proposed to Ciudadanos and the People's Party in recent months. Look, I understand that you... let's say, I'm not going to ask you to abstain for free, but if you are saying that we musn't allow the independence parties an influence in the government of Spain, at least allow Spain to be governed by abstaining at the Investiture Session.

Q: Could the "embrace agreement" with Ciudadanos be repeated? The embrace, according to the opinion polls, is a little weaker now.

Acting President of the Government: That's science fiction. I believe that on 2 December, Mr Rivera used an inexplicable veto in the whole of Europe, not only in Spain, against social democracy, and embraced the far right.

Q: But now he has lifted the veto.

Acting President of the Government: Look, there's a lot of talk about what has happened in recent months. Yesterday, for example, Minister Borrell was appointed the new Minister for Foreign Affairs of the new European Government, if I may put it that way so that our viewers can understand.

Q: And I congratulated him.

Acting President of the Government: That was an agreement I achieved representing the European social democratic family with the European liberal family and the European People's Party family. What is the problem we have in Spain? What we have in Spain is that unlike the case of Merkel or Macron, in German and in France, where firewalls have been erected so they are not going to reach an agreement with the far right in their governments, in Spain, as we are seeing...

Q: (...) but they are in co-government, two parties with their ideologies. In other words, all the...

Acting President of the Government: Of course. We agree about that; but what I'm saying is that neither Macron, nor Merkel in France or in Germany have reached agreements with the far right. In Spain, what we are seeing is that the right, the People's Party and Ciudadanos are allying with the far right. They are pushing the Socialist Party out of government, and if they do not join the far right, and there is no parliamentary majority against the Socialist Party, what they have done in these months is block progress.

So, I repeat, there's a lot to think about.

Q: But we have to forget about all that. President of the Government, we have to turn over a new leaf, and have to deal the pack again, because if not, we will be in the same situation once more.

Acting President of the Government: Well, what is most important, I think, for the next 10th of November, is that the citizens have seen what has occurred over recent months. They have seen, for example, that a party to the left of the Socialist Party has on four occasions prevented the creation of a progressive government, which is what the majority of people voted for on 28 April. And they have also seen, on the right, that the People's Party and Ciudadanos have blocked the only government possible, which was that of the Socialist Party.

Look, I'm not asking for anything more than that we do what has been done in Portugal, or in other European countries. If there is no alternative parliamentary majority to the main political party, why can we not allow this political party that the Spanish people have chosen, to form a government? That is the question that has not been resolved by either the PP or Ciudadanos or Unidas Podemos. We are now once more heading for another election and I hope that once and for all we have a bigger majority that can allow the stalemate in our country to be unblocked.

Q: But, Mr President of the Government, you must bear some of the responsibility for not being able to reach an agreement. It's true that, well, there has not been an agreement with Podemos, with Ciudadanos, things have turned out as they have... but the President of the Government must also bear some of the responsibility, as the person who had to take the first step.

Acting President of the Government: I have often said... well, I offered a coalition government also, with many doubts, as I have said on many occasions in public, to Unidas Podemos. I could, in fact have been President of the Government today, but of what government? Of a government that depended for its stability of separatist Catalan political parties? Of a government where there would be not one government, but two governments; one, for example, challenging Catalan separatism, supporting the Constitution and the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia; and the other, claiming that there are political prisoners in our country? Is that the government that Spain needs?

I don't think so. I believe that Spain needs a progressive government, with a stability that allows us to deal with these three lines of action I mentioned earlier: social justice, rectitude and social harmony. There are many things we have to do in terms of social justice.

Look, in these months what I have said to all the political parties is: the challenges facing Spain are: decent work and sustainable pensions; the ecological transition, the digital transition that is affecting the labour market and also, the educational system of country; real and effective equality between men and women; the fight against social exclusion; and sixth, a strong and consolidated co-existence thanks to the State of autonomous regions.

But there were also three threats that I said were urgent to tackle, with a government working with its full powers: first, the secessionist challenge in Catalonia; second, Brexit, which has a fixed date of 31 October. We don't know whether it will be a hard Brexit or whether we will reach an agreement with them; and finally, the economic slowdown. I've been talking about this in recent months. So I believe it is important that on 10 November we can overcome this impasse and that is what I am going to do.

Look, I'll advance one thing to you here. This Sunday I am going to present a plan to overcome the impasse and to make progress. It is a plan to overcome the impasse and to make progress consisting of the following: first, I am going to propose that there should be a government as soon as possible - in other words, in December; second, that there should be no parliamentary holidays; i.e. that December and also January should be working months, so that Parliament can begin to work; and third, we are going to present the expenditure ceiling, which is the first step for the General State Budget in early January, so that we can have a General State Budget approved as soon as possible in the first quarter of the year.

Q: Well, I think everyone would agree on that; that we need a government now, above all because of the economic situation.

Acting President of the Government: They agree with the idea, but then what they have all done is to say that this business of breaking the impasse is...

Q: The Bank of Spain has lowered its GDP growth forecast. The OECD has presented a catastrophic outlook. And the International Monetary Fund - yesterday the new Chairwoman of the International Monetary Fund said that this slowdown will impact nearly a whole generation.  Things such as Brexit, the problem in the United States and China, the rise in oil prices... in other words, the economic situation is becoming very complicated.

You talk about cooling, about slowdown, but I wonder whether what is emerging is a recession and a crisis.

Acting President of the Government: Well, a recession is when a country grows negatively for three straight months. And we're not in this situation in the global economy, or in the European economy.

Our government has always said the same thing. We are watchful, we can't become complacent, but neither should we unnecessarily alarm the economic agents, and above all the citizens.

Look, it's clear that, well, the Trump Administration is in a trade war with the Chinese Government that is having a major impact on trading relations between blocs. Between the EU, China and the United States.

Yesterday, for example, I announced that this threat of tariff barriers that has been proposed by the U.S. Administration for France, Germany and Spain, because we form part of an industrial consortium that manufactures the Airbus, which many viewers use to travel to other parts of Spain and abroad... well, what I have said is that we are going to defend our livestock and farming sector. And what does that mean? Well, that among other matters, in Extremadura and Andalusia, where they are not only suffering the consequences of this threat, but also the result of the drought, we are going to cut the required level of day wages for entitlement to agricultural unemployment insurance.

What I would like to say in this respect is that it is obvious that these dark clouds are coming from abroad. But if you look at the growth data for our country, they are very solid. Look, we are growing at twice the rate of the Eurozone. We are growing, or rather creating, more jobs than our economy is growing. In the last 12 months we have created 480,000 new jobs.

Q: It's slowing down.

Acting President of the Government: There's no doubt about that, because the rate of economic growth is slowing. We are an open economy. Obviously, what Trump is doing, and what China is doing affects Germany, and this affects us, because we have close trading relations with Germany.

Q: I'd forgotten about Germany, which is already going to start its recession.

Acting President of the Government: Let's not say things like that... they are said... I understand that many economists in 2008 also did not see the recession, and now they are keeping all their bases covered, but Germany has sound fundamentals as well. For example, it has a public surplus that other countries in the Eurozone would love to have.

What I mean by this is that in economic growth, in job creation, in the consolidation of public accounts, for example, the reduction of the public debt and public deficit, the Government of Spain is doing what it can. The outlook is good. So: neither complacency nor, let's say, a catastrophic outlook that obviously leads us to a situation that we don't want, right?

I'll tell you something: I believe that for this it is important to have good teams; good teams. And right now, on the current political map, the only political project that has not only the project and ideas, but also the teams, in the economic area, is that of the Socialist Party, and the current government. We have a Minister for the Economy in Nadina Calviño who has a great reputation in Spain and abroad, and I believe that the rest of the political parties don't have anyone.

Q: You have also announced a rise in pensions, of course, for a year, while there is no Toledo Pact, in December, plus the agricultural wages. You are being criticised for taking vote-catching measures.

Acting President of the Government: Well, what I think is surprising is that the pensioners should now be the victims of this political impasse; or the farm labourers as a result of the threats from tariffs, Mr Trump's tariff policy, or the drought we are suffering, as a result of climate change.

I believe that the duty, the responsibility, of a President of the Government, even though he is an acting president, is to tell the 28 million-plus pensioners, look, you are not going to pay for this political impasse.

Q: Can you do it as Acting President of the Government? Because in December you will probably still be Acting President of the Government.

Acting President of the Government: I hope not. That's why I am asking for the trust of the people of our country.

Q: After 10 November, of course.

Acting President of the Government: I am asking for the trust of the people of our country.

Q: How many weeks... ?

Acting President of the Government: No, no, I don't think it is a matter of weeks. I expect it to be a matter of days. Look what's happened in Portugal, in 48 hours.

Q: Yes, but we have had five months so far.

Acting President of the Government: Well, that's why we have to learn, above all those parties that have only offered an impasse. But first, the Spanish people have the possibility on 10 November to break this impasse. And today, the only political option that can guarantee that there is no impasse in our country is the Socialist Party.

Look, I want us to have a government in December with full powers. And, I repeat, on Saturday I am going to present dates, specific commitments so that the Spanish people can know that we are going to break the impasse, and we are going to...

Q: But can you sign the matter of the pensions while you are Acting President of the Government?

Acting President of the Government: I repeat, I want there to be a government.

Q: But imagine there isn't a government, that the negotiations are difficult.

Acting President of the Government: I can't get it into my head that after a second election, with the Spanish people having voted on five occasions, five occasions, there will be political parties that may give themselves the luxury of once more blocking the formation of a progressive government.

Q: Everyone has to give way. You as well.

Acting President of the Government: But look, it's curious, because, for example, the People's Party says no, it doesn't want to reach State-level agreements with the Socialist Party. Perfect, great. But the fact is that the first cross-party agreement could be to break the impasse. The People's Party does not want to be part of it. The People's Party, acting in an opportunistic way, is saying that it is prepared to break the impasse if it wins the elections; but if it loses them, as all the opinion polls say it will, what will it do?  Will it continue to block any agreement?

Ciudadanos syas that it is prepared to lift its veto on the Socialist Party if it does what Ciudadanos says it has to do. Well, I have always said that I am prepared to negotiate. I have even admitted that a political party with 123 seats, given the absolute majority is 176 seats, cannot impose my election programme... well, I'm prepared to talk to all the political parties in order to move forward...

Q: And why didn't you manage to the last time? I don't understand. Because it's going to be more or less...

Acting President of the Government: But let me tell you something. In these 15 months, before the election of 28 April, I governed with 84 members out of 350. We passed the minimum wage, recovered the unemployment welfare benefit for people over the age of 52. Recovered the... to the Social Security system.

Q: Pablo Iglesias, who was here the other day, says that the minimum wage was thanks to him, eh?

Acting President of the Government: I've never said that I didn't share this decision with Mr Iglesias, but what I say to him is that they were decisions I took with 84 Members of Parliament, and we approved it in the Lower House of Parliament. So, the capacity...

Q: Your relationship with Pablo Iglesias appears to have worsened a great deal in this period. It's true that... but this distancing is very clear, the trust...

Acting President of the Government: Yes, but look, Ana, what I have wanted to do is to support and put the general interest above the private interest. I told you before that, in fact, I could today be President of the Government, of a government paralysed by its own contradictions. I don't believe that this is the government our country needs. Our country needs a stable majority that allows us to approve a budget and deal with matters such as the maintenance of the public pension system, to make it possible to have quality jobs in our country. To fight against job insecurity, above all thinking of the young people of Spain. To remediate the problem of housing, above all access to housing. In short, we need to do carry out many reforms that need a sound parliamentary majority.

And I repeat, in the past period in office the form of governability proposed by Mr Iglesias was a form of governability that founded this stability on separatist political parties. I believe that we cannot allow ourselves this over the next four years.

Q: But that will not change. The position of Podemos with respect to the issue of separatism is the same. By the way, are you going to Barcelona today?

Acting President of the Government: Yes, I'm going to Barcelona; yes.

Q: They say your next speech may be more moderate than the one you made a little while ago saying that if necessary, Article 155 will be applied because they already did it and you supported it. But now when you get to Catalonia will you in any way moderate this, which it appears did not go down well in Catalonia?

Acting President of the Government: Well, I think, and I've always said so, Ana, that the capacity to apply Article 155 does not rest with Catalan separatism. In other words, what is the responsibility of any government? It is to guarantee peaceful co-existence and security. I have always said that if the separatist parties do not commit any type of irresponsibility, then we are not, let's say, going to decide anything extraordinary.

Now if there are any irregularities mentioned by the separatist parties that break the new constitutional order or that call into question national territorial integrity and sovereignty, well, the Government of Spain will act. And it will act on the basis of three principles. First, democratic firmness. In other words, as I said before, the aim is to guarantee co-existence and security. Second, proportionality. We are not going to contribute to pour more oil on troubled waters. We are not a government, nor a political project, that has grown like other political parties around territorial confrontation, questioning co-existence in Catalonia; quite the reverse. In fact, we have been criticised for wanting to build bridges. And third, unity. Unity in the sense that, obviously, what I am going to ask from the rest of the opposition political parties. If in the end I am obliged because of the irresponsibility of the Catalan separatist parties to take some type of extraordinary decision, then I'll ask them to do the same as we did when we were in opposition (as you have recalled), which was to support the government.

Look, when Mr Rajoy was President of the Government, when we applied Article 155 or during the years of the crisis of co-existence in Catalonia there were things that I didn't agree with him on, but I kept quiet, and didn't say them publicly. I bit my tongue. Why? Because I believed that what was important, and the only hope now for the separatist groups, is that the parties that support the Spanish Constitution and the Statute of Catalonia become divided, and this is something that I don't want at this new stage either.

Q: Well, the other day there was a vote of no confidence against Torra, and the Socialist Party, with Miquel Iceta, I believe it was yesterday, abstained; didn't support it. That was the subject of some criticism by this bloc that believed that they should have supported them in this. So... You say that you are very tough in Madrid, with Catalonia. In other words, in a way there are two discourses.

Acting President of the Government: I'm neither tough, nor weak. I'm firm. I have my convictions. I have my principles. I know what my job as President of the Government is; it is to provide stability and guarantee peaceful co-existence in any part of the territory of Spain.

What is the political project of separatism? It is to make Catalonia independent of Spain and take Spain out of Catalonia. That is a problem...

Q: You have agreed to take the Guardia Civil out.

Acting President of the Government: Yes, but look, at the Council of Ministers meeting we already warned the Regional Parliament of Catalonia that they can't take decisions of this type; that they must comply with the Constitutional Court judgment, because if they don't, they may be committing criminal offences. Let me conclude, because I think it is very important to say the following in relation to the vote of no confidence presented by Ciudadanos

I believe that right now in Catalonia we are experiencing a time of extraordinary complexity. Over the next few weeks we are going to see the ruling on the leaders of the procés trial [of separatist leaders] and I believe that it would be very important to leave aside all partisan initiatives. I know that we are now involved in an electoral process, and that we are in the campaign for elections on 10 November, but votes of no confidence, parliamentary initiatives that strengthen separatism in Parliament, because they achieve a parliamentary majority that they did not have before the vote of no confidence.  And second: proposing an initiative that you know will fail means, I believe, weakening our political response, not strengthening.

So what I ask is for everyone to support the government, as the Socialist Party did when we were in opposition; and if there is something that has to be commented, obviously I will be prepared to dialogue with them - I mean the constitutional parties.

Q: When can we expect to have the judgment in the procés? Before the elections, maybe? In fact, I believe that there is an operational procedure in the Ministry for Home Affairs to send reinforcements of both the Guardia Civil and National Police to Catalonia.

Acting President of the Government: Yes. I don't know when the judgment is because that lies with the judiciary.

Q: But I suppose that this deployment means that you are expecting it at any time.

Acting President of the Government: We are doing our job. We are doing, let's say, a job of prevention. I also have to tell you one thing, and it is that the police coordination, the technical coordination with the mossos d'esquadra [regional Catalan police force], which as you know are the police responsible for security and co-existence in Catalonia, is very positive. And I hope that over the next few weeks it will continue to be so.

In any event, what is the duty of the Government of Spain? To look at all the possible scenarios. We have been examining them. Starting with the application of the National Security Act, in case Catalan separatism returns.

Q: Can it be done constitutionally?

Acting President of the Government: And also the application of Article 155. We have studied this, and it can be done with a caretaker government. Fortunately, there is a very broad, absolute majority in the Upper House, not only of the Socialist Party but also of other parties that could support it. But, in any event, as I said before: democratic firmness, proportionality and something that is very important for me, which is unity.

Q: Has Mr Torra, with whom you have tried to build bridges - you arranged the Council of Ministers meeting in Pedralbes and invited him to Moncloa Palace - disappointed you? Can even more be done?

Acting President of the Government: No. Political players do not disappoint me or not disappoint me. I am the President of the Government. Mr Torra, however much I may not like it, is the President of the Regional Government of Catalonia. He is an institutional representative, so of course I have to have the best institutional relations with him. But I have always said in public and private, both to Mr Torra and to the independence movement: we are a government that is prepared to dialogue; but before, there is something that has to be complied with, which is the law. And it must be done in this order: law and dialogue. There can't be dialogue outside the law, or dialogue to twist the law. That cannot be asked from a government.

Q: There are social measures that... and we are still subject to Montoro's Budget.

Acting President of the Government: You're telling me.

Q: There are social measures that have been announced, such as the rise in pensions, the farm workers' wages, civil servants... What will all this be paid with, when we have the deficit we have?

Acting President of the Government: Many of the things we have proposed, such as in the area of the social security system, are things we had already planned. So what I can assure you is that when I told you before that the Spanish wanted a progressive response on 28 April to many of the challenges facing us, that is what I was referring to. In the last few years we have seen the People's Party cut the Welfare State; they've raised taxes, and at the same time they have financed themselves illegally and corrupted many people. That was the response to the crisis proposed by the former People's Party government. What I said is that we are going to defend the Welfare State, we are going to consolidate the Welfare State, without doubt we are also going to ensure that those who have the most contribute the most to the public treasury; and second, what we are going to do is to ensure that the distribution of the burden of everything involved in the cooling economy is fairer than what the working middle class has experienced in the last seven years.

Q: But the fact is that in the end most of the tax receipts come from the middle classes. "Those who have most should pay most," but this does not resolve all social expenditure. In the end, the more unpleasant things related to the crisis arrive - let's hope they don't, because we've already suffered enough.

Acting President of the Government: But Ana, look at what has happened in recent years. In recent months, for example, there were conservative parties, such as the People's Party, which criticised the rise in the minimum wage to €900. They also said that it was going to be a measure that would destroy jobs. Well, quite the reverse in fact: the forecasts we have for job creation at the start of the year are being met, with 480,000 jobs in the last 12 months; and second, the minimum wage and rise in civil servants' salaries are increasing the revenues of the social security system.

I have pledged - and this is the commitment I have with all the Spanish people - that in 5 years we are going to resolve the deficit of the social security system, and this will also involve improving job quality, and increasing the remuneration and wages of workers. The rise in the minimum wage has also been a very good measure for raising social security receipts.

Q: When will the exhumation of Franco take place?

Acting President of the Government: Soon.

Q: Soon... Next Monday?

Acting President of the Government: Look, I can't say the date publicly, on the set: first, because it is a decision that has to be taken by the Council of Ministers; and secondly, because...

Q: So you will take it on Friday...

Acting President of the Government: ... it is information we have to give to the family.

Q: Will the family be present?

Acting President of the Government: I don't know. In any case, I think that it will be a turning point in the democratic history of our country. Far from what the conservative parties think. The other day I heard Mr Rivera say that this causes a rift; quite the contrary, I believe that what memory, dignity, justice and reparation do is strengthen the foundations of our democracy. Having the remains of a dictator buried together with his victims is, I believe something that we have to remedy; and fortunately...

Q: This was approved some time ago in the Lower House, wasn't it?

Acting President of the Government: Well, the Lower House of Parliament... There is also a law, the Historical Memory Act, which also mandated it. We complied with what the Act told us and with the decisions of the Lower House.

Q: So what finishing touches are left? The prior, the judge who has to authorise the works?

Acting President of the Government: No, there are none left. We are waiting for the Supreme Court to clarify some of the matters requested by the dictator's family, but from the point of view of what corresponds to the government, it is the enforcement of an administrative proceeding, because that is what the proceeding relating to the dictator Franco consists of. It will be done as soon as possible. It has already been resolved and so what we are going to do is implement it in a matter of days.

Q: The regional governments are expecting the transfer of funds. A letter was sent from the Ministry of the Treasury saying it was not possible because that was what the State legal services had said. You said a little while ago that this money was being released. How, where is it being taken from, and when will it reach the regional governments?

Acting President of the Government: I think that just as we said before with the pensioners, that they are not the victims of the political impasse, the regional governments cannot be either. We have always said that the best way of guaranteeing the update of the advance payments on account and updates of the VAT was with a government with full powers, which could approve a budget; that was our position until 23 September, which was the deadline for trying to form a government without going for another election, which is where we are now.

We are going to update the payments on account, and we have the reports that allow us to release these amounts legally and that is what we are going to do.

Q: Why did you not do it before; why didn't you ask for these reports before?

Acting President of the Government: Because what we wanted before was a government with full powers. It didn't make much sense to so something as a caretaker government when we could do so as a government with full powers. At a time when we are already obliged to go to the polls, well, obviously...

Q: When did you know that there was not going to be a government? When did you know it was impossible to reach an agreement with Podemos?

Acting President of the Government: I think...

Q:  Before the summer?

Acting President of the Government: I believe in the failed investiture in July, after having made the offer of a Vice-Presidency of the Government and three ministers to Mr Iglesias, and he had rejected it, I saw that the investiture would be all uphill.

Q: And were you surprised when Pablo Iglesias decided to pass? Did you expect it or not? Did you tell him, look, you're a problem? Well, I don't know how it was...

Acting President of the Government: I never saw it from that perspective. I have the greatest respect for the rest of the political players; and with Mr Iglesias I have had a fair number of conversations over recent years, and above all in recent months, and I have always told him the same. I always said that we were two political parties which coincided in the area of social policy, in the area of real and effective equality between men and women; in the fight against climate change. But we had some elements of profound disagreement; for example in the matter of external policy, or in particular in the crisis situation with respect to peaceful co-existence that is being experienced in Catalonia.

They support a referendum for self-determination that we consider would be damaging for co-existence, yes, but in political terms as well. Look at what is happening in the United Kingdom, where we are seeing how politics has driven British society into a dead end; it has driven it into a dead end and now it doesn't know how to emerge from this dead end. Of course, this is a responsibility that we have as leaders. I understand that there are political parties that over recent months have presented their election manifestos; my responsibility is to present a manifesto for government, because I am, right now, the Socialist Party is, the sole guarantor of this stability and of emerging from the impasse that the country needs.

Q: Today the cover of the daily ABC accuses the Socialist Party of Andalusia of buying votes of people in the light of some documents that have appeared in a local council. Do you know anything about this?

Acting President of the Government: The only thing I can guarantee - it's very surprising, but anyway - what I can guarantee is that the Socialist Party is a party with firm democratic principles, and these democratic principles, of course, do not include what this newspaper talks about; but, above all, as I say, these principles mean the exemplarity and honesty in the management of public funds; and that is what I believe has always been one of my tenets and will continue to be so.

Q: Are you going to maintain the same government after the elections?

Acting President of the Government: Well, I'd like Nadia Calviño to continue as Minister for the Economy because I believe she's doing a good job; and for Montero to continue to be the Minister for the Treasury; for Pedro Duque to continue as Minister for Science, Technology and Universities; and for Minister Robles to continue in charge of Defence; and for Marlaska to continue as Minister for Home Affairs. In short, I think we have created an open government, a government with many independents, with a technical profile. And they are responding well.

Q: Well... those you haven't named must now be concerned.

Acting President of the Government: Come on, I didn't name everyone, that's always happening to me, I get myself knee deep in it... but, well, I'm happy with all of them, and above all, what I am very happy with, Ana is that - this is something you define as well - we have a government with the most women in the world in the council of ministers. I think that it also says a great deal about our country because 40 years ago - think about it, 40 years ago, and so much is said about politics - only 5% of the Members of Parliament were women. In this last government, over 43% or 43%, I seem to recall; in other words, we were the Parliament with most women in the whole of Europe, and the government with most women in the world.

Q: Is Errejón a spoilt child?

Acting President of the Government: No; but I don't know Mr Errejón.

Q: Well, you always speak very well of him.

Acting President of the Government: I talk in respectful terms...

Q: They say that Errejón's project, with Más País, is an operation that has been designed by Moncloa to weaken Podemos.

Acting President of the Government: No, not at all. I think that political discussions have their place, I think I've said that. We look with a great deal of respect on what this space of Unidas Podemos represents; in fact, we are talking about two founders of Podemos who are having a disagreement in terms of how to focus the political action of governability of this space to the left of the Socialist Party, and we don't have much to say about that. Honestly, there's nothing in what you say.

Q: I said that people were mentioning it. In any event, they are very similar, they come from the same party. Do you think the appearance of another party on the left could harm you, that there could be PSOE votes that move to Más País?

Acting President of the Government: Look, first of all, I don't think votes belong to one party or another, they belong to the people. Second, I don't have any objections to a multi-party system. It seems to me that all options are legitimate; the only option that is not legitimate is imposing an impasse, above all when there is no alternative majority to what is represented by the biggest political party, which is the Socialist Party. So if in the end, instead of having eight, we have 1,000 political parties and the day of the elections we have an alphabet soup that makes it impossible to have a government and there is an impasse, well, I think that we are back where we started. Really, the question we have to answer on 10 November is whether we want Spain to move forward or we want it to be subject to an impasse again.

Q: They also say that you get on very well with Pablo Casado.

Acting President of the Government: Look, I get on well with everyone...

Q: No, with Pablo Iglesias right now you are not on the best of terms.

Acting President of the Government: I don't get on badly with him. With Mr Rivera I don't have the chance...

Q: I don't know why you've changed your attitude to Mr Rivera now, but you broke it off, let's say; you gave back your rings, so to speak.

Acting President of the Government: I think that Mr Rivera... look, yesterday one of your colleagues asked me in the written media, When did you break off relations with Mr Rivera? Well, relations with Mr Rivera have never been broken, but if I have to set a date, I think it was on 2 December; on 2 December, Mr Rivera had the opportunity to govern with the PSOE in Andalusia and what he did was to embrace the far right. And what's more, with an argument that he has not been consistent with, right? Because he said in Andalusia that change is important because the PSOE had been heading up the government for a long time; but then when he had the opportunity to make a change in the Regional Government of Madrid or Murcia or in Castile-Leon, what they have done is consolidate and prop up governments that have already been in power for many years.

Q: Changing tack, what happened in Navarre with España Suma has also created a rift in this relationship; in the end everyone, each party, will have to reach an understanding.

Acting President of the Government: We all have to learn from what has happened, no doubt about it, but I also think it is important that there is no impasse created again on 10 November. Spain doesn't have any time to waste. That is why we not only have to end the impasse, but also make Spain move forward. And next Sunday in fact I am going to present dates, contents, policies, governability so that the Spanish people not only know that with their vote they are going to break the impasse in the political situation in Spain, but that they are going to have a government that works.

Q: Finally, Mr President of the Government, if the global economic situation - we are now finally talking about what is practically a global economy - becomes difficult, if in the end it becomes an uphill struggle for everyone, if the crisis comes, will you tell us? Will you say the word "crisis", rather than use euphemisms?

Acting President of the Government: Always. What's more, over these recent months, what have I said to Spanish public opinion and the political parties when saying look, we want a government as soon as possible? Because there are symptoms of a cooling economy, because the sudden exit of the United Kingdom from the EU may also trigger economic tensions; so what we need is a government with full powers to respond to any symptom of economic cooling. But I'll also tell you another thing, right now. I insist: the Spanish economy is growing at twice the average of the Eurozone. We are creating jobs. So I believe that the conditions do not warrant taking a snooze on the sofa, but nor do they mean telling public opinion that we are facing a recession, as has been suggested so frivolously.

Q: Well, as I believe that all the parties, all, absolutely all, are saying that we need a government, I hope that we vote on 10 November and reach an agreement as soon as possible.

Acting President of the Government: All the parties say so, but there are some parties that have a greater capacity, depending on the votes of the Spanish people, to unblock the impasse or not.

Q: If you win the elections you will have the greatest capacity to open your arms to the rest.

Acting President of the Government: Of course, but the Spanish people vote for a political approach to the problems they have, whether progressive or conservative. In this country, we have had progressive governments and we have had conservative governments. I have said that I don't have any problem with sharing power; I've never had any. What's more, in these last 15 months I have governed with 84 members. In the political panels, the participants say that you can't govern with 84 Members of Parliament. Well, we did many things for this country with 84 Members, and now we have 123. We'll see how many the Spanish people give us on 10 November, so I will always offer my hand to the left and to the right; because I believe that many things can be done for social justice and co-existence from the left and right. But I repeat, what cannot be is that the minority tries in private to impose what the polls have not given them. And this I also believe has to do with the responsibility that the other political players have.

And of course, I believe in a progressive government which is coherent so that there are not two governments in one; and that has a parliamentary stability that allows us to tackle the Budget and the country's problems... well, I believe that is what we have to vote for on 10 November.

Q: Well, and then that agreements should be reached. Acting President of the Government, thank you very much for being with us this morning.

Acting President of the Government: Thank you.

(Transcript edited by the State Secretariat for Communication)

Non official translation