_ ‘The clear victory of Citizens over the PP gives it primacy in the centre-right and that may be important in the general elections’
_ ‘Spain needs a very clear reassertion of the constitutional order. Spain does not need a constitutional reform’
_ I'm not in favour of a constitutional reform that means that Spain as a whole must pay a price to the secessionists’
_ He also explained his vision of the current situation of most of the countries of Latin America and the United States
The former Prime Minister of Spain and president of FAES Foundation, José María Aznar, has taken part today in the forum 'Future in Spanish', invited by Vocento Foundation and the Development Bank of Latin America, CAF. Aznar has held a dialogue with the journalist Juan Carlos Iragorri, 2014 King of Spain International Journalism Award, on the challenges faced by Spain and America. In addition, they also discussed the situation in Spain after the Catalan elections and the debate on the constitutional reform. Aznar expressed his surprise at the attacks he received after his first assessment of the results of the Catalan elections: ‘I have made a diagnosis on the results of the Catalan elections, and I have not seen it disavowed by anyone, but rather reaffirmed by almost everyone.’
The former Prime Minister also said that ‘Spain does not need a constitutional reform’ but rather ‘a very clear reassertion of the constitutional order,’ and warned that ‘opening possibilities of reform’ would be a very ‘serious mistake’ in the midst of a process of secession.
‘I have made a diagnosis on the results of the Catalan elections, at the time diagnoses should be made, that is, when elections take place. And because of that diagnosis, which I have not seen disavowed by anyone, but rather reaffirmed by almost everyone, as days gave gone by, I have received personal attacks, which is rather surprising,’ Aznar said.
‘That's why I want to remind everyone what I wanted to talk about. First, Catalonia is more divided and fractured than ever. Second, the elections, in terms of seats, have been won by the secessionists, but they have not won in terms of the plebiscite that they wanted to hold. The process will continue, and it will continue led by the most radical forces, which will replace the less radical ones. With regard to the left, there has been a clear victory of the Socialist Party over Podemos, which will give the useful vote of the left to the Socialist Party in the elections. And what has occurred in the non-nationalist centre-right is a clear victory of Citizens over the PP, which had never happened before, this gives the primacy of the political centre-right to Citizens and can obviously be important in the general elections,’ he explained.
‘It seems worth pondering why the non-secessionist, constitutionalist part of the electorate, has preferred to vote for Citizens and not to the Popular Party, which is the ruling party. And why this electorate thinks that Citizens can defend the constitutional order better than the PP. I have only delivered, on that matter, a diagnosis. These are facts. If someone has other facts apart from these ones I would like them to express them, but personal attacks should not be used,’ he said.
Iragorri has also questioned Aznar on the relevance of implementing a constitutional reform in response to the secessionist challenge. ‘Spain needs a very clear reassertion of the constitutional order. Spain does not need a constitutional reform,’ the former Prime Minister answered. ‘I'm not in favour of a constitutional reform, and I think that opening possibilities of reform would be a very serious mistake, being as we are in the midst of a secession process, in favour of possible constitutional reforms. And I think that we must be very clear about this, because with less clarity there's more confusion. ‘
‘My position is very clear and emphatic. I am not in favour of a constitutional reform that means that Spain as a whole, the Spanish nation as a whole, must pay a price to the secessionists. I do not advocate this. The Constitution is not Spain's problem. Spain's problem is posed by some who want to break it apart,’ he reiterated.
RECONSTITUTION OF THE PP
Aznar, on the other hand, has responded to Iragorri that in his assessment of the results of the Catalan elections ‘I have not spoken of the PP in Catalonia, because if someone is having a hard time, it is the PP in Catalonia’. ‘A few months ago, in the main newspaper of this group [ABC], I made some statements saying that 'we have been warned in the European elections, warned again in the regional ones, again in Andalusia and we will be warned five times in the Catalan elections if everything stays as it is.' And I called for a reconstitution of the Popular Party. Well, the data, not my opinion but data, the voters, have given us the fifth warning. I am simply noting this and it is not irresponsible to invite to reflect on this. Perhaps someone is offended by this invitation. But this invitation seeks to prevent voters from making these warnings in the future, because if they continue happening in the future, things will get more complicated.’
When asked if Rajoy should be the PP's presidential candidate, Aznar replied that ‘this is a matter that should be decided by the Popular Party and the Popular Party has already decided on this. Therefore, I wish the best of luck and the best of fortunes for he who has this responsibility.’
CURRENT AFFAIRS IN AMERICA
Iragorri has also asked Aznar about his views on the current situation of most of the countries of Latin America and the United States. In this regard, he said that ‘Latin America has had an extraordinary decade’ and that having ‘an important chapter of reforms that make economies more flexible, more open, more competitive, that can produce better results, should be done in the good times and in times of crisis.’ He also pointed to the ‘need to strengthen institutions’ throughout the region.
The former Prime Minister also said that ‘the problem of populism is that it has a tendency to spread and even those who are not populists might be tempted to implement populist measures. And that is very worrying.’ Aznar expressed his support for the Cuban and the Venezuelan democrats and referred to the new situation in Cuba after the end of the economic embargo. He also expressed his views on the peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC; the Pacific Alliance; the future elections in the United States and Argentina; Brazil's situation and the recent challenges faced by Mexico.
Aznar has concluded the dialogue saying that ‘the national interest of Spain is the only thing that has moved me all my life and the only thing that still moves me and that will continue moving me.’