Miquel Iceta (Barcelona, 60 years old) , is surely the most predictable Catalan politician, but he surprised everyone on the 30th by resigning to be the PSC candidate for the Generalitat in favor of the Minister of Health, Salvador Illa.
He says that it was a decision that had been going around him for months, until he agreed with Pedro Sánchez and they conspired to keep the secret, even though the PSC leader had to lie until the day came.
Now that Illa is the candidate, is she going to tell the truth in this interview? I always say the truth. These days I get a lot of interview cuts and I always say “right now.” Things are said when possible, because this change could only be made at the end of the year and it had to be kept completely secret. In politics voids and doubts are badly handled, and they had to be avoided.
Was the operation agreed with Pedro Sánchez at a meal in La Moncloa on November 16? It was the 19 and I do not give details of where we ate. This started at the end of July, when the polls show some light and shadow of my candidacy. When we ate I expressed my doubts to him and he fully agreed. Sánchez has behaved like a friend.
How was the conversation? The president told me that if Illa’s option was possible it would be at the end of the year and that until then it was not possible to speculate on a change in the Ministry of Health. It made perfect sense, because the Budgets were not approved and because we did not have the guarantee that the vaccination campaign could begin. \
And that forced me to show that I was the candidate and to have two campaigns prepared: mine, which I will keep for history the originals that we did; and another, in case Illa was the candidate.
I have been in politics for a long time and I have never experienced an operation as complicated as this. Now some praise my “generosity”, but my obligation was to give way to Illa, because she has more possibilities.
Therefore, Sánchez and you agreed that Illa would be the candidate without him knowing it. Yes, when I get out of lunch I go to see him at the ministry and explain it to him. He asked me for 24 hours to think about it and he agreed.
What face did he make? Salvador has many virtues and one of them is a certain English phlegm, it is difficult to catch him, but he was shocked. There had been noise and rumors, and his name appeared in some polls, but he had never considered it seriously.
Don’t you think that, although the PSC improves the results of 2017 a lot, the bet is very risky, and that Illa could go from being a highly valued minister to being head of the opposition with another pro-independence government? That is a possible scenario and we are going to fight so that it is not confirmed. I hope that Salvador Illa is president, but if not, he would have the opportunity to build a very solid alternative from the Parliament, facing what would be the degradation and final collapse of a process that we all know is going nowhere.
So do you rule out Illa repeating what Inés Arrimadas did and leaving Catalan politics to go to Madrid? When I offered him to be Secretary of Organization of the PSC in 2016, he had a very comfortable job at the Barcelona City Council, but he accepted and rolled up his sleeves to revive our project. \
He is a tenacious man, as he has shown during the pandemic, very resistant, of great convictions, respectful and that when he commits to something, he takes it out. I hope he gets it out the first time, but if he weren’t, it would also be a good option for the future.
Can the candidacy of a minister help the campaign to talk more about health and the economy and less about independence? Surveys say that citizens want more to be said about the pandemic, economic recovery and social protection. Salvador’s profile fits this debate very well.
Catalonia has gone from bad to worse. We started with the government of the best that Artur Mas said, then he left us with Puigdemont, who went to Waterloo, and Quim Torra came to us, who told us that he was not coming to preside over an autonomy. Illa does come to manage in the best possible way 46,000 million euros of budget.