Politics 13/01/2022

Illa responds to Aragonès: "There will be no referendum of self-determination".

The first secretary of the Catalan Socialists' Party defends in Madrid that it is now necessary to "strengthen ties" with Spain

2 min
Salvador Illa between Ministers Félix Bolaños and Pilar Llop.

MadridNot even 12 hours after Catalan president Pere Aragonès made his first conference in Madrid, in which he demanded a referendum of self-determination and amnesty as a way to solve the Catalan conflict, the head of the opposition and first secretary of the PSC, Salvador Illa, has cut the debate short this Thursday, also from Madrid: "There will be no referendum of self-determination or amnesty", he stated emphatically. "This will not happen," he assured.

Illa has become accustomed to being the reverse side of Aragonès since he set up his shadow government, giving a Christmas speech and today appearing in the Spanish capital the day after the president. But just as the president chose a stale institution (the Club Siglo XXI) in a modern place (a hotel next to the Bernabéu), Illa has chosen a modern institution (the Nueva Economía Forum) in a stale setting (the Casino de Madrid). Under spectacular chandeliers and 19th century frescoes, the Socialist leader gave a much more affable speech than Aragonès the day before, despite the difficulties for the public to follow him due to technical issues with the sound.

PSC representation

Among the audience, a wide representation of the powerful core of the PSC established in Madrid: the Minister of Transport, Raquel Sánchez; the socialist spokeswoman in the Senate, Eva Granados; the Secretary of State for Communication, Francesc Vallés; the coordinator of the PSC deputies, José Zaragoza; or the CEO of AENA, Maurici Lucena. But there was also the First Vice-President and Minister of Economy, Nadia Calviño, who introduced Illa; the Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños; the Minister of Justice, Pilar Llop; the Socialist spokesman in Congress, Héctor Gómez; the secretary general of UGT, Josep María Álvarez, who also went to listen to Aragonès; and other socialist faces from Barcelona, such as the first deputy mayor of Barcelona, Jaume Collboni, or the spokesperson in the Parliament, Alicia Romero.

"I have not come to claim anything, much less to demand it, but to explain and persuade," Illa made clear from the start, marking a very clear difference with Aragonès's speech the day before, with whom he acknowledged that he has a "cordial relationship". In fact, he agreed with him on one point: the implicit criticism of the president of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, for her words against healthcare personnel. "My first words here in Madrid are meant to be of recognition for healthcare personnel," he remarked. From this point onwards, he unpacked the key points of his political project, and has stressed that a majority of Catalans want to turn the page and open a "new era". In this sense, he once again called on Aragonès to convene the dialogue table between the parties represented in Parliament.

On one specific point, however, the socialist, little given to providing headlines or being forceful, has adopted a serious gesture: when he spoke of the recent changes in the leadership of the Catalan police. "This matter worries us, but we will get to the bottom of it. First of all, we want to hear the explanations the minister gives Parliament", he said. On the Villarejo affair and his statements about the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, he did not want to comment: "I agree with the Catalan police, who have already investigated it," he replied.

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