“Federating with ERC would be ideal”, Joan Carretero

Joan Carretero, the president of Reagrupament, explains the pact with ERC for the Spanish elections. He does so in an interview by the magazine “El Temps“ (21.10.2011)

Joan Carretero (Tremp, 1955) is a doctor and the president of Reagrupament. According to him, the only way of making the pro-independence movement stronger is to be united, and to achieve unity we need generosity, a feature that not everyone understands. That’s why we are interested in that pact “with the new ERC” for the next elections.

Was there an alternative to forming an alliance with ERC?

— Yes. There was an alternative:  going it alone  in the elections  and probably withoutsuccess. The other alternatives were either not standing for election or trying to cooperate so that the pro-independence sector had more representation than it has now. So we decided to choose what we considered the best option: trying to get more pro-independence candidates in the Spanish Congress that so far have been inexistent. We always find alternatives in life.

This alliance has always been regarded as obvious.

— Out of the three options I have just mentioned, it was the best one for our country —and for us. Pro-independence parties didn’t do well in the Parliamentary elections . Neither did they in the local elections. Hence this scientific evidence: When they aredivided, pro-independence parties don’t do well. So having said that, I think that the most intelligent thing to do is unite our forces.

—  Would you have formed an alliance if Joan Ridao had led ERC’s candidacy in Madrid?

— If Ridao had been the leader, a coalition wouldn’t have been possible because he has always stated publically that he would under no circumstances form an alliance with other pro-independence parties. In any case, according to what he has said and done so far, his priority is the rightwing- leftwing area rather than the national area, and we think that is a mistake. The ballots are clear: when the catalanist parties want to evade the national debate, they fail.

Is this new ERC the best one to ally with?

— The old ERC only wanted to create alliances with PSC and ICV because they focused on  leftwing matters, and nothing else. We have always focused on the national matter. There are thousands of examples, but one of the most illustrative examples is the Dependency Law. ERC voted for it because it was a leftwing law, which later proved to be useless without resources. The real situation is that if Catalonia cannot use its own resouces, no policies —neither leftwing ones nor rightwing ones— can be conducted. At this moment in time, talking about leftwing and rightwing policies is absurd. We cannot conduct policies without controlling our income. First of all we have to be able to use our own resources and only when they are ours to use can we discuss what to use them for. In a 20th century Europe, the difference between rightwinged and leftwinged governments is only an nuance. Above all, a government needs to be eficient.

What’s new in ERC?

— Basically its leaders. Oriol Junqueras presents a different strategy. Aparently not everyone in the party follows the instructions of the new president, but it is an important and substancial change.

It must be totally different, because three years ago you were the subject of expulsion orders and now you are forming an alliance with them.

— Yes. The message of the new leaders is entirely different from the message we had heard so far. We disagreed mainly about strategic and ideological matters.. We thought, and still think, that the pro-independence movement needs to be one that reaches national independence for this country. When this objective is achieved, people will decide who to vote: the liberals, the leftwinged or the socialdemocrats. This is why we have always believed in a cross-cutting pro-independence sector whose center of attention is solely to achieve independence for this country. The current leadership, despite its nuances, is closer to this approach. The former leadership believed that ERC had to be, above all, a leftwing party and so independence was left vague. Having our own state wasn’t a priority. Now the message is totally the opposite: they choose the leftwing over the wrightwing, and our country over the leftwing.

But there are a lot of leaders in the new ERC that come from the old ERC. Do you think it has changed for good?

— We aren’t ERC and therefore we don’t feel the need to talk about the internal processes of another party. However, I have to say that it is almost impossible to get rid of everyone from the former leadership, especially because the former leadership didn’t base their actions on their own opinion, but on the requests of  the vast majority of their activists. This was proved in the ERC Congress three years ago. Changing everything now is impossible butit is already significant that we get on well with their greatest exponent. On the other hand, we haven’t merged or integrated with ERC, we have formed a coalition, and coalitions are formed by parties with similar objectives, not the same ones.

How can these agreements between ERC and Rcat that started in the last local elections and strengthened in the Spanish ones become, for example, a federation in the long run?

— In the long run a federation would be ideal. But if I remember correctly, the federation that exists now in Catalan politics (CiU) took 25 years to be formalised. Thus, we have 25 years to do it. Nevertheless, I repeat we have to understand that this coalition must continue after the electoral battle because, as it has been proved, if we aren’t united we won’t achieve anything. We must build a solid alliance. Obviously, we are not the same we don’t have the same point of view and we have big differences, but not big enough to prevent us from working together for a shared objective.

Translation: PM