Manuel Valls, ex-prime minister of France and current member of the French National Assembly, asserted on April 20 that he is considering the possibility of running as Ciudadanos’ candidate in Barcelona’s upcoming mayoral elections.
In an interview with Los Desayunos de TVE, Valls restated his unwavering position against Catalonia’s secessionist movement. Valls, who was born in Barcelona to a Catalan father but raised and educated in France, began his announcement by disclosing his feelings about his identity as both French and Spanish.
“My country is France, but I have another homeland which is Spain, of course,” said Valls. “I know what Catalan means: its history, its culture, its language. I speak Catalan with my family–I speak it better than Spanish. And Catalonia has a very strong identity, but its identity is also Spanish, and its identity is also European, and these three identities work together. Spain without Catalonia and Catalonia without Spain make no sense. What ties us together is more important than what divides us.”
In the same interview, when asked about the extradition of Carles Puigdemont, he made reference to an article written by journalist Javier Cercas for El Pais. Valls expressed his accordance with the main premise of the article that in Spain there are politicians in prison but no political prisoners.
“Political prisoners exist, in Venezuela for example, but not in our democracy. That is why I think that the extradition of Mr. Puigdemont will occur,” said Valls.
Finally, Valls was asked whether or not he could see himself as a candidate for the mayoralty of Barcelona. Before responding, Valls joked that he was about to respond as a true politician.
“I have become involved in this debate because I am born in Barcelona and son of a Catalan, […] and I have become involved in this debate as a European because its consequences are very important for Europe,” said Valls. “To continue in the debate in one way or another, that certainly would interest me; yes, in one way or another, to continue in this political, intellectual debate. Would I go further than that? Well, I will give it some thought.”
In spite of his politically inconclusive response, some pundits believe that Valls is considering becoming a mayoral candidate for Spain’s center-right party, Ciudadanos.
The president of Ciudadanos, Albert Rivera, confirmed to the Spanish press the same day of the interview that “Mr. Valls is contemplating becoming a candidate and being present in a Spanish campaign, in this case in Barcelona.”
“I can confirm that Ciudadanos is open for people like Mr. Valls to be in our electoral lists,” said Rivera, declaring his endorsement of Valls. “We will open the doors to talent. We will go out and win the elections. A person of Mr. Vall’s level–a prime minister, a convinced democrat, a friend of Spain and of Europe, a person that has defended his values throughout the crisis of Catalonian separatism–deserves all our respect. So as of right now, I can tell you that the doors are open and that Ciudadanos has to have a winning candidature.”