Salvador Illa: “I can guarantee that there will be no referendum with our support”

Salvador Illa (La Roca del Vallès, 1966) aspires to be president of the Generalitat. He wants to turn the page on an independence decade failed that accumulates bad management and frustrations. He is convinced that Catalonia needs a new time leading a new transformation that he tirelessly defines as “unite and serve”. He receives us in an office without ostentation in which he has listened to all sectors of civil society. It is presided over by a poster of President Zapatero and on the shelves are books and photos with Sánchez and Iceta. Along with them, with a affectionate dedication, one from King Felipe in Zarzuela: «With all my affection and pleasant memory». She is also one of a very young Illa, perhaps from her time as mayor in his town. Three months before the municipal elections, he was thrown out by a motion of censure. In the elections he obtained an absolute majority.

José Montilla told Zapatero: “José Luis, we love you, but we love Catalonia more.” Would he tell you the same thing?

What I say to President Sánchez is that Catalonia has to close a lost decade and open a new stage to return to being what it always was, a land of prosperity with the capacity to lead Spain economically.

Puigdemont sends messages to Sánchez. If you don't make him president, the Government's days will be numbered. Will the Generalitat decide in Moncloa?

The 135 elected deputies will decide it. Rather than threatening, vetoing and blocking, now it's time to propose and explain projects. The Catalans know that it will be the Parliament that will elect the president.

The panorama is predicted to be ungovernable. Do you fear a blocking majority?

What I perceive is a very majority and transversal desire to leave behind this lost decade led by Junts and ERC with four presidents –Mas, Puigdemont, Torra and Aragonès– and open a new time, a third great transformation. The first was the deployment of self-government led by Pujol; the second, the expansion of social services with Maragall and Montilla, and now, it is time to lead a third that I define as uniting and serving. Emphasize what unites us as a society in a context of systemic change in the world, and serve, putting public services as the first priority to continue generating prosperity and unite socially and territorially.

A socialist claiming Jordi Pujol?

Those of us who fight him politically have no complexes in recognizing that his presidency of more than 20 years, in collaboration with the PSC, promoted the Generalitat.

Will the PSC votes make Pere Aragonés or Carles Puigdemont president?

The socialist votes will serve to open a new time. The third great transformation does not need the protagonists of the lost decade. They have both been presidents and the result is that we are not prepared to face the drought, we are 10 years behind in renewable energy, in education we have gone from the leadership to the tail of Spain, no decision has been made in infrastructure , none is none, nothing has been done in the health system, the perception of insecurity has grown… After ten years, the third great transformation cannot be carried out by those responsible for this lost decade.

«I want to be the president of everyone, whatever language they speak and whatever they think»

Would you govern with any of them?

I aspire to have broad support to deploy my transformation project and bring public services up to par. It is my priority and a symbol of respect for citizens. On the 13th it will be up to politics to articulate a stable government, as stable as possible.

Do you believe what ERC and Junts say that they will not count on the extreme right?

I respect your word. The relevant thing is to close the way to the hate speeches of Vox and Orriols, Orriols and Vox. They are the same and a threat to coexistence.

Will you then reject Vox's support for the PSC?

I have nothing to do with those who practice hate speech. I defend political action that respects different ways of thinking but I cannot, nor do I want to, reach any compromise with those who sow hatred.

Do you see new elections on the horizon in Catalonia and Spain, at the same time?

No. I plan to be able to build a stable government that I am in a position to lead. Catalonia and Spain are two different institutional areas. Ten years later, with pro-independence governments, what Catalonia must look like! With all the economic, business, academic, cultural, sports, scientific potential, with all the vitality of the third sector, public services… Catalonia is far below where it belongs due to a terrible government action carried out by ERC and Junts. They have destroyed this potential. Now it is time to open a new time.


With broad agreements outside the support of the new Government. I have done so in this mandate with loyalty and collaboration. Agreements with the local world, the Government of Spain and other communities, making us respected in Europe. This is the working method, the objective is to unite and serve, enhance public services and make decisions, make commitments from infrastructure to security to reforming administration, which is a brake on many business initiatives.

«I perceive a desire to leave behind a lost decade led by Junts and ERC»

How do you plan to combat insecurity?

With more police on the street. I will deploy 570 more police officers each year, but effectively, discounting retirements. I will create a General Women's Commissariat, a unit to combat mafias and multiple recidivism, I will implement a plan against the occupation, and I will promote police cooperation.

Does the amnesty affect the PSC voter?

The amnesty in Catalonia is seen as the institutional normalization of what is normalized on the street. I understand that there are people who have reservations because what they experienced in 2017 had a strong emotional impact. I understand this point of distrust, but I am convinced that it is a correct law, like pardons and the reform of the Penal Code.

The independentists raise the ante: referendum.

People want the drought, education, infrastructure, housing, the energy transition, and health to be addressed. She is tired of divisive movements. I can guarantee that there will be no self-determination referendum with our support. Now it's time to vote on May 12. We have voted a lot in recent years.

The PP accuses him of abandoning constitutionalism.

Whoever knows the PSC knows that we have defended the framework of coexistence defined by the Constitution and the Statute. Those who have contributed to the disagreement have been those who have sought political gains with a confrontation that is going nowhere. I am proud of the role of the PSC against polarization and in favor of political normalization. We must overcome the lost decade.

«People are tired of divisive movements. “He wants the drought or education to be addressed.”

What is your prescription regarding immigration?

When the immigrant is welcomed and integrated, he not only does not put the identity of the host at risk, but rather enriches, improves and strengthens it. This is the recent history of Catalonia and Spain. To welcome people who have come to seek a better life. With immigrant repeat offenders we will act the same as with national criminals, applying the legislation that toughened the Penal Code. We have to work to make it more efficient.

He talks about recovering the lost economic pulse. As?

With stability, predictability and certainty in institutions. Of course, not fining anyone for deciding where to put their headquarters, reforming the Administration to make it more agile, betting on water and energy, preparing for droughts and promoting renewables to achieve energy self-sufficiency, and improving road, railway or airports.

Will there be money for that much?

If it is managed well and European funds are used, yes, although financing must be improved. In these years absolutely nothing has been done. My commitment is not to use it as an excuse to hide management deficiencies or to generate more frustration. We've had enough. We must manage well, apply the Statute that provides for a tax consortium, put an end to fiscal dumping because it is competing with unacceptable doping and work so that Catalonia stops being the third in contributing and the fourteenth in receiving. No regional president would accept this. And I want to reduce inequalities and, to achieve this, I will propose a Social Financing Agreement with unions, employers and the third sector. I want a fair financing system that applies the uniqueness of our Statute law. The incomprehensible thing is that in ten years, neither Aragonès nor Puigdemont have done anything and now they promise everything.

“In ten years, neither Aragonès nor Puigdemont have done anything and now they promise everything”

How will you add the undecided vote?

I aspire to be president and I address all citizens. I address everyone. Whatever they think, whatever language they speak, wherever they come from, wherever they live, however they feel. Others only address a part of Catalan society.

How did you feel in Congress giving explanations about the “Koldo case”?

It was my obligation to appear and explain myself. I assume it with honor. In my presentation and in the responses to his honorable Members I made it clear that the Minister of Health acted in very extraordinary, special and difficult moments with extraordinary and exceptional measures, all of them protected by legislation. I explained myself as I have always done and I did not lie in parliament. I approach the appearance in the Senate with the utmost respect.

If he is not president, will he do like Puigdemont? Will he leave the seat and politics?

My commitment is to be at the service of Catalonia in the position that the citizens decide. I am not going to evaluate other decisions. Politically they are self-explanatory.