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Felipe González, who was prime minister of Spain for 1982-1996, today warned there is very little chance the Spanish Constitution will ever include the right to self-determination and that he will work to ensure it doesn't. "I don't want to introduce the seed of its self-destruction into the Constitution," he said.

The former PSOE leader was speaking during an event discussing the 40th anniversary of the Constitution held today in Barcelona with Miquel Roca, one of the text's "fathers", and moderated by journalist Mònica Terribas.

The event was attended by senior members of the Catalan PSOE, including former president José Montilla and the central government's delegation to Catalonia, Teresa Cunillera. Also present were other politicians, like former French prime minister and candidate for mayor of Barcelona Manuel Valls and Cunillera's predecessor, Enric Millo (PP).

González insisted that the only solution to the conflict in Catalonia is dialogue and expressed concern that the "ability for dialogue and pacts" has been lost.

A thousand deaths

He said that the approval last year by the Catalan Parliament of the laws for the referendum and transition made him "suffer enormously". "I thought that if it had happened in the 30s it would have cost us a thousand dead. The Constitution has the effect of being resilient," he said.

González praised the roles played by Felipe VI and his father, the king emeritus, saying that they've "offered an extraordinary service to social harmony", all without "ever interfering or breaking their neutrality over political options".

He said that the two monarchs have between them defended the Constitution on two very clear occasions. The first was Juan Carlos I after the coup d'état on 23rd February 1981, the second was Felipe after last year's Catalan referendum.

The former PM said that the Constitution received such wide support in the 1978 referendum because it was understood they'd achieved a "free pact of social harmony" in which they'd agreed upon both "pluralism of ideas and the diversity of feelings of belonging".

Playing down Vox

González also played down far-right party Vox's first gains in the Andalusian Parliament this weekend. He described it as a European anomaly which has ended up arriving in Spain: "there's no need to worry so much".

That said, he indulged in a touch of self-criticism, admitting that there might have been mistakes which have given rise to "spaces of demagoguery" and caused the loss of "political centrality".