Manuel Valls is considering standing for mayor of Barcelona next year as the candidate for centre-right, anti-independence party Ciutadans. The former French prime minister, born in the Catalan capital, in an interview on Spanish public broadcaster TVE's morning news show Los Desayunos, said he is "studying" an alleged offer from the party to stand in the municipal election on 26th May 2019.
"I would like to continue the debate [over independence] and I will consider [the offer]," said Valls. Ciutadans (Cs) has not officially confirmed the reports.
The former French PM has repeatedly expressed opposition to the independence movement and has taken a leading role in various pro-union events organised by Cs and the platform Societat Civil Catalana (SCC). During last year's Catalan election campaign, he supported Cs' candidate for president, Inés Arrimadas, and also took part in some events for the Catalan branch of the PP, currently in government in Madrid.
Estaré debajo de las piedras !! #Llibertatpresospolítics !!— Giovanna Valls (@GiovannaValls) 15 de març de 2018
Manuel Valls encabezará domingo la manifestación de Societat Civil en Barcelona @lavanguardia https://t.co/4EpJWcIXk4
Valls was in the front row of the SCC demonstration on 18th March in Barcelona and, as on previous occasions, his sister, Giovanna Valls, expressed her profound disagreement with her brother's opinions on the matter. At that rally, Valls gave a speech explaining that the independence process had caused arguments in his family, like the ongoing fight on social media with his sister.
Beyond expressing opposition to the independence movement, he is also a firm supporter of the extradition of the exiled Catalan politicians. This Thursday, in a discussion presented by the Spanish deputy prime minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, he said that Germany has no other "solution" than extraditing Carles Puigdemont to be put on trial in Spain.
He also said that "the independence project is a dead-end street. There's no possibility of breaking the unity of Spain, and Europe has to respect Spain". Nonetheless, he avoided commenting on the specific charge of rebellion.