This weekend sees two senior members of the pro-independence party Together for Catalonia (JxCat) going head-to-head in primary elections to choose the party's candidate for the presidency of Catalonia in the elections on February 14th. The contenders, the current territory and sustainability minister, Damià Calvet, and the party's leader in the Spanish Congress, Laura Borràs, have both answered the same ElNacional.cat questionnaire on some of the topics that have marked their campaign. Here are some of their responses on: the Catalan independence process; the nature of a future government; JxCat and the role of Carles Puigdemont; and the telephone bugging of pro-independence party members in the Civil Guard's recent Operation Volhov.
Polls close in the JxCat primary election on Sunday at 8pm.
Do you contemplate a unilateral path to Catalan independence?
Calvet: We always contemplate it. Not to do so would be like entering a negotiation with your hands tied. It's not about declaring independence, but above all, about "creating" independence. The political prisoners themselves ask us not to carry on via the same route that they took which made them hit the wall.
Borràs: It's not a question of whether I would contemplate it or not. The membership of the political committee of the party has voted massively in favour of it, but what is necessary is unity of action, commitment and the putting into effect of the mandate of the 1st October referendum, which is unequivocal. If I'm in power with an absolute majority, I'm in politics to put that into effect, so in that situation, especially so, I would do so.
The Catalan government you would lead:
Calvet: We must not repeat certain inertias of the past and present, but rather there must be a basis of mutual confidence in a shared roadmap. If I am president I undertake, with the confidence of Parliament and the voters, to create a strong government in which the ministers don't break discipline, where the parties don't break discipline, and where there is an order and stability that allows us to move forward to create independence.
Borràs: We need a strong government. To make progress, all the pro-independence parties will have to be there, all are required, but around a strong presidency and a strong government with an unmistaken commitment from all its members.
And if you form part of a coalition?
Calvet: A coalition government has to based on confidence and as such each party in it has to be able to present its own candidates.
Borràs: What would be within my power is to assert my insistence that Parliament must be sovereign, not resigned, not submissive, not allowing interference with its powers, as this Parliament did continually after January 30th. I want to surround myself with the most able people as I have done wherever I have worked.
The relationship between JxCat and Carles Puigdemont:
Borràs: JxCat isn't a personalist party. Carles Puigdemont is the legitimate president, a leader of the country, and this is the result of his generous idea, to create a united list for the country, and so what's key is that it is transversal. The project is Carles Puigdemont's, but it is also secretary general Jordi Sànchez's, and the vice presidents such as Jordi Turull, so it is a space of inclusion that seeks to multiply for the country.
Calvet: JxCat is a project that is very inspiring, which was born out of the 1st October and did not end on the 27th October, which brings together people from all sorts of diverse origins, politically, socially, ideologically, which has a leader, like any project needs a leader who epitomises it and leads it... it's modern, very solid with a strong future.
Espionage: do you think you've been spied on?
Borràs: Sometimes I am sure (when talking on the phone) I notice phenomena like something paranormal, Poltergeist or something, and I always greet them cordially, say 'I don't know who is listening'...I look on the bright side, at least they are learning languages.
Calvet: I've often thought that the State may be monitoring, spying on, listening to all of what we in the Catalan government do... and the State is not afraid of twisting democracy to act against legimate ideas.
Borràs: Yes, naturally we use all the alternative platforms, because our job is not to make their job easy, but rather to complicate it.
Calvet: For years, I've used all sorts of communications media in the pro-independence world, because, think about it, part of the independence movement is in exile, in jail, part in the political world but also in the civic and social world. The Council for the Republic, the ANC, Òmnium, and many others have been hounded and criminalized by the State time and time again, and that means that at times we have to write notes to each other on pieces of paper like people used to in the 20th century.