Yolanda Díaz: “Amnesty can only come from a historic pact, without unilaterality”

On September 4, two weeks ago, the second vice president of the acting Government, Yolanda Díaz, shifted gears to meet in Brussels with Carles Puigdemont.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
16 September 2023 Saturday 10:21
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Yolanda Díaz: “Amnesty can only come from a historic pact, without unilaterality”

On September 4, two weeks ago, the second vice president of the acting Government, Yolanda Díaz, shifted gears to meet in Brussels with Carles Puigdemont. The photo of the meeting had dazzling effects. She accelerated political time. The hypothesis of an amnesty for the events of October 2017 gained strength and helped to coagulate an opposition front, led by former presidents Felipe González and José María Aznar. González has returned to his acid disagreement with Pedro Sánchez, and Aznar has made a solemn call for “national strife”, thwarting Alberto Núñez Feijóo's attempts to open lines of communication with Junts. Two weeks after the flash in Brussels, La Vanguardia interviews Yolanda Díaz.

Was Pedro Sánchez perfectly informed about his trip to Brussels?

The day after the last elections, I informed the President of the Government that I was going to appoint Mr. Jaume Asens as interlocutor with Waterloo. The president and I have fluid conversations almost daily. I cannot reveal, nor will I ever, my conversations with the president, which took place before and after the visit to Brussels.

In politics, timing is essential. Do you think you timed the moment of that interview correctly, a week before Onze de Setembre?

Yes, without a doubt. Look, on August 2 I said that the regulations of Congress would have to be modified. It may have seemed strange. That proposal is already underway today...

Are you referring to the use of Catalan in Congress?

Catalan, Galician, Basque and other languages, yes. I think that announcement, which could have seemed untimely on August 2, is viewed differently today. We are going to comply with the constitutional mandate of offering “special respect and protection” to the linguistic modalities of Spain. These languages ​​will be on equal footing in the Cortes Generales. I think it's progress. Was the timing correct? I think so.

The interview in Brussels had a notable impact and caused great anger. Former President Felipe González came out against you in a radio interview. What do you think about what González said?

I do not share the reflections of the former President of the Government. I respect them, but I don't agree at all with some of his ideas. The former president has legal training and I am surprised that he makes certain statements about the amnesty and the Constitution. I have studied the constituent debate. There was debate about whether or not to include the amnesty explicitly in the Constitution. There was an amendment from the Popular Socialist Party [a group led by Enrique Tierno Galván, which would end up merging with the PSOE], to include it. That amendment did not prosper, which does not mean that the amnesty is prohibited in Spain. The constituent decides that a measure of this scope should be taken by the ordinary legislator, knowing well that it requires an organic law and therefore, a qualified majority. Let's be rigorous.

Is the Government explaining itself well?

I know perfectly well that there are many people who have many doubts and therefore we must approach this issue with rigor. Firstly, there is no single form of amnesty, contrary to what some maintain when comparing the current situation with that of 1977. There are amnesties to facilitate a change of political regime, as happened then, when we transitioned from dictatorship to democracy. There are so-called “utilitarian amnesties”, such as the tax amnesties that the Popular Party so generously approved. And there are amnesties to try to overcome political conflicts, which is the framework in which we find ourselves. I'm sorry, but we cannot compare the current situation with that of 1977. Those who want to interpret it that way are wrong.

What you are telling us is that a narrative vacuum is being created by the current Government.

I agree.

During these last few weeks, the idea has prevailed that the amnesty for the 'procés' would be like that of 1977. Why don't the acting Government and the parties that comprise it explain better what their plans are?

I am granting this interview today.

We find it an interesting answer.

I am granting this interview and not by chance... And not by chance to La Vanguardia. But I agree with you. This matter must be faced with rigor and seriousness. There are many people who have doubts today. What we have to understand is that the amnesty is not a law, but rather it ends in a law. There is a political conflict that can be the subject of a political and social agreement. A conflict that we should never have come to. And why do I speak of political and social agreement? Because business owners and unions, civil society should also be part of that agreement... A broad agreement that would culminate in an organic law. This is the process we can go to. I still remember the day when Mr. Antonio Garamendi, president of the CEOE, positioned himself in favor of pardons at the Cercle d'Economia of Barcelona. The agreement must be broad and you will allow me to tell you that there is no room for unilateralism in this agreement.

Are you telling us that the Catalan independence movement must renounce unilateralism?

What I am telling you is that where there is an agreement, there is no room for unilateralism. When one party sits down to negotiate, it is already renouncing unilateralism.

Let's follow that plot line. The day after his trip to Brussels, Carles Puigdemont gave a speech in which he outlined Junts' basic conditions for the investiture. In that speech he used an expression that will sound familiar to you: “Historic commitment.” You come from a party, the PCE, that cultivated that expression, of Italian origin, in the seventies. What did he think when he heard it?

He had heard it before. She had heard it the day before, when we met.

Historical compromise meant a pact between antagonists, with renunciations. Do you think that Mr. Puigdemont conceives that expression in the same way as you or the generation that signed the Moncloa pacts?

I cannot reproduce my conversations with Mr. Puigdemont, in the same way that I cannot reproduce my conversations with the President of the Government, with Mr. Garamendi or with the unions. But it is evident that when someone invokes the doctrine of historical commitment he is talking about a pact. A pact that has to do with reconciliation, with peaceful coexistence. A pact that has to do with living better. They will find me there.

Recapitulating. You informed the President of the Government well of his visit to Brussels...

I talk daily with the President of the Government...

…He thinks it was the right time and thinks he needs to explain himself better...

Narrative and facts. I am talking about a political and social agreement that must win the support of society...

And he agrees with Carles Puigdemont that there is the possibility of a 'historic compromise'...


Does the Socialist Party have the same narrative will?

It is not my place to assess that point.

The Basque Lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu has put it differently, proposing a “constitutional convention” that reinterprets the territorial model. What does he think?

I think it's an interesting idea. I have asked Lehendakari Urkullu for a meeting.

It seems that the next legislature, if it does not die strangled, will be the legislature of territorial debates.

I do not agree. Spain advances when the territorial and the social go hand in hand.

How do you assess the attitude of the Popular Party at this time?

The PP has abdicated politics to dedicate itself to pitting half of Spain against the other half. Now they are doing it again and I think it is very serious. Núñez Feijóo has tried to introduce some correction to that course and they have not let him. There we have Aznar giving instructions. Aznar is the one in charge in that game. Under the leadership of Aznar, the PP is today working against Feijóo. Feijóo's leadership fades. Can you imagine a former president of Germany or France calling for rebellion?

Do you share the words of the Government spokesperson accusing Aznar of maneuvers of a “coup” nature?

I said this week that Mr. Aznar is not working for Feijóo's investiture, but for a dismissal process. His appeal to “rebellion” is very serious.

Have PSOE and Sumar started negotiating about the future Government?

The only thing I can say is that Sumar's ambition is not limited to consolidating the progress made in the previous legislature. People want more rights and more social policies. This will be Sumar's flag.

Are ministries being negotiated?

We are not talking about the composition of the Government, we are not talking about ministries...