Politics 23/05/2021

Jordi Sànchez: "Giró's signing places Junts at the epicentre of the economic world"

7 min
Jordi Sanchez in an archive image

Sant Joan de VilatorradaJordi Sànchez (Barcelona, 1964) receives ARA in Lledoners prison with a face of satisfaction. In one week the legislature agreement of Junts with ERC has been unblocked and there is already a new president.

How was the agreement unblocked when everything seemed broken?

— There is no one moment. It is not during the weekend either, because what we did was to finish closing minor aspects of the documents that were already very advanced. What we did was, let's put it this way, an act of authority in which we closed the discussions that were already there. And we also talked and rebuilt trust, because we have all made mistakes. The negotiation was not theatrical, we both wanted to maximise the benefits, I wanted the best for my party. These are tensions that are part of democratic normality.

What should citizens expect from the pact and the new Government?

— It is true that no great expectations have been generated and the fact that the messages are more in line with reality is always positive. There are no grandiloquent words. And people need to know that the pact must be in place for four years.

For you, is the dialogue table tactical or strategic?

— For us it is tactical. This does not mean that we do not believe in the agreed referendum, I have always defended it and I said so in an interview in the ARA that created a certain scandal. For us dialogue is strategic, but we are convinced that the table, if there is not a 180-degree turn, will not produce results without confrontation.

But how can you dialogue and confront at the same time? Isn't that contradictory?

— No, because what we have to do is force the state into a real negotiation, because they won't give us amnesty and self-determination. And right now the objective conditions for negotiation do not exist. The State is not taking it seriously, the table, because there should be a method, a work outside the spotlight... We can't deceive people about this. And we also have to say that confrontation alone will not lead to the Republic.

And how do you force the State to negotiate?

— This is what we call intelligent confrontation, and this includes acts of disobedience, assuming tension with the State and also repression. And the State has to know that we, who have explicitly renounced violence, are those of negotiation and dialogue. But the state is not there and is not expected.

In any case, there is still no agreed pro-independence strategy.

— No, but we already have a shared space to discuss it. What we could not expect was that in the framework of a legislative agreement a debate, that of the strategy, which has been blocked for three years, would be resolved. That was not my objective. We have a legislature agreement, not an agreement on strategy.

Will the new Government also mean a change in leadership?

— This is indisputable. The 2017 leaderships' decapitation explains part of the difficulties that we have had to face. And now new leaderships have to appear for a new political moment, starting with Junts.

Jordi Sànchez in an archive image

There are those who have voluntarily withdrawn, like Elsa Artadi.

— I suppose you can see it that way, but it's true that at no time did we give any names.

But do you admit that the way in which it became known was detrimental to Junts?

— Yes, we probably made the mistake of not nipping speculation in the bud. The fact is that we have had the debate with Elsa for a long time, because we want to govern Barcelona, and I told her at the time that if she went it was to persist.

But if she had wanted to be the vice-president, she would have been, wouldn't she?

— Yes, without a doubt. And she was very excited to be vice-president. But she says: "I'm playing for Barcelona".

So you don't see any sign of internal opposition to the agreement?

— No. I know that there are people in Junts who don't like the agreement, but the support has been unquestionable, 83%. Fortunately, we are not a dogmatic Church where 100% think the same. By the way, I'd like to know what support the agreement would have had among the ERC's grassroots.

But there are significant people who have positioned themselves against it, such as Clara Ponsatí and Quim Torra.

— Neither Clara Ponsatí nor Quim Torra are members of Junts. Therefore Junts does not express itself through people who are not in the leadership, but who are not even militants. They are attributed an influence that they do not have.

Let's go back to the names of the Government. What characteristics do they have to have?

— It has to be a team that knows the agreement, that believes in it and that provides solvency in each area. I know that there will be people who will feel mistreated.

At the moment you have made an impactful signing, Jaume Giró for the Economy portfolio. What will he bring to the executive?

— Firstly, solvency in management. He is a man accustomed to leading teams under pressure and to generating strategic vision. Secondly, he shows commitment to the country. He was the only director of the Fundació La Caixa who opposed the move of the headquarters, a decision that ended up costing him a very well paid job. And, thirdly, he is a person with social sensitivity, who, from the Fundació, acted not with a charitable logic, but empowering the third sector and the associative fabric.

Did you find it difficult to convince him?

— It was not an improvisation. I have known him for a long time and I had seen in him a desire to serve the country. That's why, when I proposed it to him, he matured the decision in 24/48 hours. I want to emphasise that there are no profiles like that who want to go into politics. He comes to complicate his life and lose money. He deserves a lot of respect.

And what does he bring to Junts?

— It places us at the epicentre of the economic world, which is a world that in recent years we have not taken enough care of.

Jaume Giró in an archive image.

Do you foresee difficulties with the CUP?

— No more than with other names that have been mentioned. If someone has to be nervous, it's not the CUP, it's the Ibex-35, which thought that independentism had no say in its world.

Will president Aragonès be able to dismiss a Junts minister?

— Legally he can, but if it is not agreed then there would be a crisis in the coalition. But the leadership of Aragonès should not be detrimental to the fact that 50% of the Government is in the hands of another party. I also tell them that I will not intervene in the Government. My role ends here.

With whom do you agree on the names? With president Puigdemont?

— Puigdemont does not participate in the day to day because he needs to feel liberated from these functions. He is the president of 1-O in exile, he is the undisputed leader of the pro-independence movement, he goes beyond Junts.

Do you have 100% of Puigdemont's trust?

— Absolutely. Without Puigdemont there is no explanation for the success of Junts, which is now moving from a movement to a political party of the 21st century, far from ideological dogmas. It is essential to have a rationalised space. It is time for us to be respected as a political party. Junts has plural views and different sensibilities. There is room for everyone from Joan Canadell to myself, but it is not chaos. It is a serious party of the Government. And we will prove it.

What will you do if the Spanish government approves the pardon for the prisoners?

— The first thing I will do will be to take a plane to go see Puigdemont to Waterloo. The state has to know that pardons would not normalise the political relationship because they would still make the injustice of exile greater. Because prison is hard, but exile is even harder because there is no judicial expectation. I am humanly concerned about how we manage to fill exile, and the personal sacrifice it entails, with political meaning. That is why we say that the only way out is amnesty. A pardon is only a solution for those of us who are here inside.

Is that why you have insisted so much in the Consell per la República?

— It is not a question of leadership. I argued that if we created a space for coordination outside the Consell, in a year's time we would have very different views. The question was to resolve how to give the actors who made 1-O possible, parties and entities, a chance to sit down again and have shared objectives. And the agreement reflects this.

Well, the negotiation was on the verge of running aground on this point.

— If I may say so, I think one of the problems of the negotiation was an excess of testosterone on both sides. Think that people are carrying a very heavy backpack, from these three years and even before, because in 9-N there was also a lot of mutual distrust, a lot of reproaches.

Why do you think at one point ERC opted for a solitary government?

— The break was a negotiating strategy, it is the last pressure to mark territory, because 90% of the document was already closed.

ERC accused Junts of wanting to exercise tutelage over the president.

— This hurt because it was false. Puigdemon has the utmost institutional respect for presidents. There was no attempt at tutelage, it was a criticism that did not correspond to reality. And the proof is that we have agreed on an area of consensus, which means that everyone has the right of veto and, therefore, you no longer accept any tutelage. But in short, it was a mistake that had consequences, but we have been able to solve it.

The last question is about European funds: can Catalan entrepreneurs and SMEs rest assured?

— The main problem is that the Spanish government doesn't want to give the Generalitat any leeway. The feeling is that they want to impose a scheme that will go from the Moncloa directly to Vallirana or any municipality, without going through the Generalitat. But I tell you that we will fight to have, at least, what corresponds to us by weight of GDP, and then we will have a strategic look at the projects.