Read in Catalan

It had been 562 days since Joaquim Forn spoke directly to the media on video. The last time was alongside president Puigdemont and six other ministers at the Press Club in Brussels. He then returned to Barcelona and within three days was in pretrial detention for role in the 2017 Catalan referendum. This conversation with El Nacional marks his first video interview in all that time. It took place under the conditions imposed by the Central Electoral Commission: by videolink from the prison with a civil servant ready to ensure it didn't last a second over half an hour.

The thirty minutes flew by, but were well-filled. Junts per Catalunya's candidate for mayor of Barcelona made it clear that he "hadn't stood to only be a photograph hanging from Barcelona's lampposts [note: a common election poster type in Spain], I'm fighting to be mayor". In other words, if he's elected, he'll be able to attend the opening session of the city council. And if he gets the most votes, he could become mayor. His lawyer, Xavier Melero, is confident that when the trial is suspended awaiting the verdict, the prisoners will be released. And that should be within a month.

Forn called on his years of experience at the city council: "I'm backed by the knowledge of the city I've been able to acquire over the last 16 or 17 years". He said that his plans for the city work for all, whether they support independence or not: "We want everyone to feel represented. The people know my ideas: I defend the values of the Catalan referendum, but alongside that we also have a project for the city which talks about housing, about social harmony in the streets, which wants to recover Barcelona's economic and international leadership".

He also explained why he's changed his mind on his January 2018 decision to abandon active politics: "I've seen things which have made me change. When they want to silence you, you've got two options: either you accept it, or you rebel".

Up to ERC

It looks like no party will get a majority by itself on the council, leading to the question of possible pacts. Forn said JxCat would want to govern with ERC, but warned that party that "an government agreement with [current mayor] Colau [of Barcelona en Comú] is impossible, but it's impossible to bring together two plans which go against each other". As such, he said "ERC will have to decide if it prefers to govern with us or with Colau, we've already taken this decision". According to the former minister, JxCat "want a change in relation to Ada Colau's policies. It's necessary to recover the leadership of the city and do things another way".

The prison experience

Forn said that he sees the light at the end of the tunnel of the trial, but added that "we've experienced very tough moments, we've heard true lies, enormous untruths and that hurts". More specifically, he said they "suffered a lot" with the testimony by Civil Guard agents. Asked what will happen if they are found guilty, he said: "I'm not contemplating either pardons nor any other type of scenario that isn't acquittal".

Dialogue and the unilateral path

When it comes to the question of Catalan independence, Forn argued strongly in favour of the path of dialogue with Spain, dialogue "without any conditions, with everything up for discussion", for which he called on acting Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez "to be brave". At the same time, he clarified that he believes "it's not the time for the unilateral path, there's not a majority in the Parliament to be able to apply it". He added that "we have to keep moving forwards, keep winning ground to end up holding a legal referendum".

T'ha fet servei aquest article? Per seguir garantint una informació compromesa, valenta i rigorosa, necessitem el teu suport. La nostra independència també depèn de tu.
Subscriu-te a ElNacional.cat