The socialist candidate vows to heal the divisions “We need to reconnect Catalonia together” Catalonia

sAlfador Ella, the socialist candidate in the Catalan Sunday elections, promised to focus on improving public health care, revitalizing the economy, and unifying the region after “10 lost years of increasing division” due to Failed unilateral efforts to secede from the rest of Spain.

Ella, who served as Spain’s health minister before stepping down last month to run for the Socialist Party elections Catalonia (PSC), that the coronavirus pandemic emphasized the need to reform and invest more in the health system in the region and reform its economy.

“People are increasingly aware of the need for a basic agreement on how to improve and strengthen our public health system, and the need to revitalize the economy so that no one is left behind and people can be helped back to work,” he said. “It has to be done over the next few months or the next year because this is a really crucial moment to revitalize the economy and make the most of European [Covid recovery] funds. “

Illa said he plans to pump 5 billion euros into the Catalan health service in the next five years, to bring in more health workers and additional technological resources, and to strengthen the primary care system so that everyone can see a doctor within 48 hours.

“The epidemic has also demonstrated the need for coordination between nursing homes and health centers so that they can work together,” he said. “A new mental health plan is also needed, because the epidemic and all the stress it has caused has exacerbated mental health problems, which is another thing we have to work on.”

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Election poster for Salvador Ella in central Barcelona.
Election poster for Salvador Ella in central Barcelona. Photography: Paco Freire / Supa Images / Rex

Illa’s economic plans include creating 140,000 jobs within three years to help Catalonia regain its position as the region that generates the largest percentage of Spain’s GDP. “Since 2018, I lost that to the Madrid area,” he said. “I want to work with the Spanish government on projects that use European money in the auto, tourism and chemical engineering sectors, all of which are very important economic areas.”

Ella, who served as the mayor of the Catalan town in which he was born before moving to regional and national politics, said swift action is needed to heal the rift in Catalonia, which remains somewhat divided over independence after an illegal secession attempt in 2017. a A recent study It was found that 47.7% of Catalans oppose independence and 44.5% support.

“I want to bring about a change in Catalan politics after 10 lost years of increasing division, increasing economic decline and losing prestige,” he said, adding that he had discovered “a certain fatigue” in the region and a desire to open a new chapter in Catalan politics.

“To change all of that, we need to get the Catalans back together, with the rest SpainAnd with the rest of Europe. We need to reconnect and reunify Catalonia. “

However, those hopes remain distant, at least politically. Polls point to Sunday’s election It will be a raging race The PSC and the two main pro-independence parties – the Republican Left in Catalonia (ERC) and Together for Catalonia – while the pro-independence parties agreed not to make any deals that would help the Socialists in government.

Per Aragon, Acting President of Catalonia, who is running as a candidate for the ERC, rejects Ella’s approach as “Amnesia” and says his party “will not turn the page.” While many leaders are independence They remain in prison for their part in the failed break-up attempt.

Demonstrations in support of independence in Barcelona in October
Demonstrations in support of independence in Barcelona in October. Polls show that 44.5% of Catalans want independence. Photography: Paco Freire / Supa Images / Rex

Ella also ruled out agreements with any party “whose main goal in the government is the independence of Catalonia … because that would be a failed government on both sides. I will never work for the government for the independence of Catalonia because I think that is painful and divides Catalonia.”

Elaa’s critics and opponents have questioned his handling of the pandemic as health minister and his decision to leave the position to run in Catalonia. Spain, which appears to be slowly emerging from the third wave of the virus, has recorded more than 3 million cases and nearly 64,000 deaths.

“The people who criticize me now are the people who were asking me to leave before I announced my candidacy,” said Ella. “As soon as I said that I am running, they said I should not go. I decided to run because my party asked me to do so and because this is a political problem of the first degree in Catalonia and Spain.”

He said he resigned after the vaccination process began in Spain and across Europe, and that Spain had already learned many lessons from the epidemic.

When asked about his biggest regret when he was Minister of Health, Ella said: “Looking back, I think I am not alone, but all of my colleagues, we regret not acting earlier. But it is easy to judge everything we saw and with all the information we have now. … obviously if we knew what we know now, we would have done things earlier. “

The former minister has come under fire for refusing to take the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test before a televised debate with eight of his fellow candidates earlier this week. Illa said he was following the health protocols, that the PCR test is only required for people who have developed symptoms of Covid or have been in close contact with someone with the virus. That was not the case, he said, adding: “As the Minister of Health, I have been insisting that PCR tests should be done when necessary and not on a whim, which is why I did not take them.”

Ella on Thursday denied suggestions that he had turned down the test because he had crossed the vaccination waiting list. I didn’t get vaccinated and all of Spain knows that,” He said.

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