Antoni Castellà: ‘If independence wins on 27-S, we must make a deal with Podemos in Madrid’
VILAWEB – In an interview with Vilaweb, the member of the steering committee of Unió Democràtica de Catalunya reveals the post-election strategy he would favour
Pere Cardús i Cardellach.- One of the unknowns in the months before the 27 September parliamentary elections in Catalonia, which are being billed as a de facto plebiscite on Catalan independence from Spain, is the role that Unió Democràtica de Catalunya (UDC) will be playing. Unió is the ally of President Mas’s own party, Convergència. And its leader, Josep Antoni Duran Lleida, does not support independence. However, more and more voices within the party are coming out in favour of secession. One of those voices is Antoni Castellà, a member of the steering committee of UDC, whom Vilaweb interviewed to find out his views on what will happen in the coming months inside and outside the party. Will it join the bloc of secessionist candidates? Will it back the joint roadmap? Will it act independently, proposing a third route?
—The 27-S vote is considered a plebiscite on independence. Unió will no longer be able to defer taking a position, it will have to come out in support or against independence.
—Unió members have been subject to a directive approved at the national committee that took place before the 9-N vote. That directive can be interpreted as giving members the freedom to vote as they see fit. But I would like to highlight the wording of the binding document adopted at the national committee. It states that the party’s overall objective is to achieve full sovereignty [for Catalonia]. This cannot be discussed because it is an internal directive. The document goes one to describe three paths to achieve sovereignty: an initial, unilateral declaration of independence, awaiting the later formation of a confederacy with Spain; a constitutional reform that would pave the way for self-determination; and the creation of an independent state. I mention this so that everyone will know that we have already approved a document establishing full sovereignty as the goal, and incorporating the option of an independent state as one means of achieving this.
—And after the 27-S elections, if independence wins, what steps will need to be taken?
—Having a clear idea of what we will do following the elections is as important as securing the greatest number of votes on 27-S. That, and knowing what roadmap we will follow. We can discuss many things. But one thing is clear: We will have a democratic mandate. I think that we now have a unique opportunity. I will say something that may be a bit controversial. But the greatest opportunity for us will come in the Spanish elections. If there is a pro-independence majority on 27-S, we must run for the Spanish elections on a single list. Not so that the general elections will be seen as a plebiscite, because we will have already had one, but to act as Catalans who have decided to be free vis à vis the state from which we must secede. If Podemos is indeed positioned to secure a very substantial majority, a single secessionist list will be able to obtain a significant number of votes in the general elections in Madrid.
—It would be like dispatching a delegation to Madrid. But to what end?
—Podemos’s program aims to bring about political regeneration in Spain, and the secessionist parties have a similar goal in Catalonia. If the independence vote wins on 27-S, we must be ready to offer a deal that will allow Podemos to govern, in exchange for recognizing the new Catalan state. This agreement would put an end to all the discussions regarding the recognition of the Catalan state by the international community and the European Union. It would be a way to make a deal in which everyone wins. Spain would gain the opportunity to carry out a political regeneration of the Spanish state, and Catalonia would gain its freedom. At present, there are few windows of opportunity being opened. But this is one of them: A single list after a secessionist victory on 27-S, and a deal with Podemos that would allow it to implement its program in exchange for recognizing our freedom. This agreement would go a long way toward clarifying and facilitating the independence process.
—That would be a rather complicated political move . . .
—But if we are serious, we must dare to play hard. Historically, independence processes have taken place by violent means or by destabilizing or reconstructing the original states. Catalonia has rightly eschewed violent confrontation. We need to take advantage of any restructuring impulse that is taking place in Spain. The arrival of Podemos affords us this chance, and it would be a mistake to contemplate it from afar. Creating a single electoral list with this aim would also put to rest the whole debate about whether to maintain the traditional dialectic of left-right party politics in these elections. Our goal is not to rule or reform the Spanish state, but to achieve an independent state for Catalonia. Therefore, the ideological differences would be irrelevant under this scenario. The sole purpose would be to go to Madrid to negotiate the secession under mutually beneficial terms. It would be a historic pact. Spain would be able to regenerate, and Catalonia would embark on its own path.
—Podemos will not accept losing a source of income that ensures Spain’s economic viability.
—In that case, let them come out and say so clearly. It will also be a test to gauge to what extent the goal of regenerating Spain is a genuine one. Catalonia’s independence will be achieved regardless. We do not ask of them that they agree with our plans. Nor is their political regeneration any of our business. We ask that they respect the democratic will of the Catalan people. And we do so while facilitating their regeneration program. If they are not interested, I would like to hear Podemos say that they do not intend to respect the democratic will of the people of Catalonia. If their political program is sincere, they should have no problem with the arrangement we are proposing. For us, it would be taking advantage of a fast track toward independence, with the necessary recognition from the international community.