“Catalonia without Spain is not Catalonia” says former French PM

France would have “done the same,” Manuel Valls says referring to Article 155

Former French prime minister Manuel Valls (centre) with PPC leader Xavier García Albiol and Spanish defence minister María Dolores de Cospedal (by ACN)
Former French prime minister Manuel Valls (centre) with PPC leader Xavier García Albiol and Spanish defence minister María Dolores de Cospedal (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Brussels

December 16, 2017 01:32 PM

The former French prime minister, Manuel Valls, has expressed his support for unionist parties at a campaign event of the People’s Party in Catalonia (PPC).

With less than a week to go before the December 21 election, as independence still dominates much of the rhetoric, Valls, born in Barcelona of Catalan and Swiss parents, said “Catalonia without Spain is not Catalonia.”

Both countries, he said, “will be stronger in Europe.” He was not reserved in his criticisms of the Catalan pro-independence movement as he offered symbolic support to the PPC, the Catalan branch of Spain’s ruling People’s Party which stripped Catalonia of its self-rule, dismissed the government, and called a snap election.

“Catalan society is divided because of independence,” he said, calling on European leaders to stand by “those who think the fate of Catalonia has a strong identity within Spain and Europe.”

Speaking about the Spanish government in Madrid, the frenchman said that it “is not a dictatorship” nor is it “pro-Franco,” asserting that France would have “done the same” had it found itself in the same position.

"Spain has a constitution that is one of the most democratic in Europe and the World, and in a democracy there are rules," he argued.

In a show of solidarity with the unionist bloc, the French Socialist will also attend campaign events of the Socialists and Ciutadans, both of which were in favour of the enforcement of Article 155.

“I love Spain,” he explained. “At this time we need Spain in a strong and united Europe” to face the “great challenges of the world.”

It's not democratic

His sister, via social media, let the world know what she thinks of her brother, expressing her disdain for his support of the dismissal of the Catalan government. “For the love of god, enough,” she tweeted. “It's not democratic. Since when has something so thuggish been seen as the taking away of freedoms.”

According to Valls, the political crisis between Catalonia and Spain is also a problem for the future of Europe as a whole, with its “values and democracy” at risk. Expressing his support for Article 155, which led to the dismantling of the Catalan government, as well as Felipe VI, the Spanish king’s reaction to the independence process, he stated that “democrats must stick together.”

Spain’s defence minister, and secretary general of the PP, María Dolores de Cospedal was also present backing the PPC campaign and calling for the unity of Spain. According to her, “coherent discourse always gives results.”

“I have always understood the unity of our country, that we must work together and not halfheartedly,” she said. “Either with Catalonia and Spain or not.”

To finish the event, the leader of PPC, Xavier García Albiol, said that “being Catalan has nothing to do with wearing a yellow bow, hanging an estelada (pro-independence flag) from the balcony, and going to Brussels to speak badly about Spain.” Pro-independence supporters have been using the colour yellow as a show of solidarity for the imprisoned officials and activists. It was recently banned in public sites in Barcelona.

Albiol thanked the presence of the defence minister, and calling her a “real connoiseur of the social reality of our country,” as he committed himself to winning a “majority in the parliament.”