This year Carme Forcadell is having a quieter time in the run-up to the 11th September, away from the hurly-burly involved in running the Catalan National Assembly or ANC, the organising body, at a time like this. She is confident the Via Lliure de la Meridiana (Avenue to the Catalan Republic), the demonstration aiming to fill a 5.2 km avenue, will be a success (she thinks, ‘It would be good for President Mas to be there,’). However, as a candidate for the Junts pel Sí (“Together for the Yes”) coalition, she is setting her sights two weeks later, on 27th September, on the elections ‘that will serve as the referendum we haven’t been able to hold.’ These elections should make it possible to begin the process of setting up an independent Catalan Republic. Forcadell believes the Spanish government will end up negotiating. She also calls on the radical leftwing separatist party, the CUP, to join a possible cross-party coalition government for the transition that has to form part of the independence process.
—With sixty-eight seats, an absolute majority in the Catalan parliament, can we move towards independence unilaterally?
—That’s a majority, all over the world. And it’s this majority that then governs. And I don’t just have to talk about that, but we’ll also have to see who’s then in a position to form a government, and the only ones able to do this will be the Yes camp, as in yes to a referendum. These will be the only ones in a position to govern.
—The yes to a referendum or yes to independence camp?
—Well, yes to both things. I say yes to a referendum because these elections will act as a referendum, but it’s also a yes to independence.
—I understand you’d also aim to include members elected for the Catalunya Sí que es Pot (Catalonia Yes We Can) list in whatever majority Junts pel Sí and the CUP might win.
—We’d definitely try to include everyone who wanted to join and who’d agree with social progress. Everyone who agrees with us that we need the tools and resources of a state to go forward – of course we’d want to include them.
—Do you expect the CUP to join a future cross-party government?
—We have to propose it to them. Because we want to include everyone, for it to be everyone’s government.
—The CUP are currently marking a big distance from you.
—It’s the start of the campaign now, and they’re staking out their terrain, their territory. But afterwards we’ll have to talk about all this.
—Does the fact that the CUP are standing in a separate candidature from Junts pel Sí benefit or harm the possible result?
—The ANC’s original proposal was all to stand together in one candidature, including the CUP. Now this is the solution we’ve reached, with the CUP as an alternative, and there’s more diversity, so we can pick up the whole of the separatist vote. But we’re asking people to trust us, because we think that the stronger we are the better.
—Does having such different political ideas in Junts pel Sí make it more difficult to campaign?
—Having such a wide range of people shows what an exceptional time this is. Right now this is an asset, and it gives us a lot of strength internationally.
—If Junts pel Sí gets a majority in parliament, who would be the president?
—It isn’t important who the president is, but what we do, why we got together and what we’re going to do. It isn’t who but what that’s important.
—But who is important too.
—Yes, there’s an agreement between Convergència and ERC for it to be President Mas. But I’d like to stress that who it is doesn’t matter as much as the fact that such a wide range of people will be working together. It’s this exceptional situation I want to stress. Who’s at the front is secondary.
—Romeva’s also said that in campaign events he wouldn’t defend Mas’s record as president of the Generalitat.
—As I see it we’ve reached agreement on a proposal for the future, not on the past. We all have our own pasts, and we’ve come to this candidature from different projects and doing different things. We’ll be explaining what we want to do and how we’ll do it, not what we’ve done in the past.
—What will the government have to do after 27th September?
—It’ll have to manage day to day affairs, which will be very complicated. And there’ll be a period of drawing up a constitution; there’ll be parliamentary work and there’ll be running the government of a country in a delicate position, because we’re up against a state. A lot of legislation will also be needed to begin this constituent process.
—It will all have to begin with an institutional declaration marking the start of the independence process. What will be the terms of this proposition?
—It’ll be a declaration of what we’re going to do. Now we need a democratic mandate to begin the process, and when we have it we’ll make the declaration of how we’re going to proceed. And then we’ll begin a process of negotiation with the Spanish government.
—And you’ll tell the Spanish government that you have this mandate from 27th September and ask them to negotiate a separation.
—Yes, the Spanish government and the European Union.
—It’s very likely the Spanish government will reply, ‘We won’t even talk about it.’
—They’ll certainly say that.
—And then what?
—In the long term, if you have a democratic mandate, the state will end up negotiating, because it won’t have any alternative. I think the Spanish government will start off saying no, but end up negotiating. If you’re a democracy and part of the European Union in the 21st century, you have to negotiate. It’ll be hard, but we’ll end up negotiating.
—Because of international pressure?
—Obviously. And because you can’t argue with a democratic mandate. We’ll always be steering between democracy and legality, but I think in the end legality will prevail. There’s no other solution.
—If during negotiations the Spanish government offered to hold a referendum like the Scottish one, would this be acceptable?
—We’re holding this referendum now. As we see it, we’re doing what we’re doing because they didn’t let us have a referendum.
—We wouldn’t have another referendum, you mean.
—For us these elections are the democratic mandate, and therefore after 27th September we’d have it. They didn’t let us hold a referendum. And if they didn’t let us do it in November, they won’t want to now, either.
—But you were also saying that in the end the Spanish government would agree to negotiate. And what if during the negotiations they offered not to negotiate separation but to hold a referendum?
—No. For us, the referendum is the elections on 27th September. They’re plebiscite elections. 27th September will give the democratic mandate to start negotiating with the Spanish government to achieve a Catalan state.
—The Spanish government could suspend Catalan autonomy first. What would happen then? A unilateral declaration of independence?
—I don’t think our autonomous government will be suspended. It’s true that the Spanish government is unpredictable, but it won’t do that, because it would be too serious in the eyes of the world. If it did, it would work in our favour, it would strengthen our process, and that’s why I don’t think they’ll suspend autonomy.