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David Madí: ‘Spain has an admirable culture of power; in Catalonia we have to develop it’. Madí reviews in his book the years of the procés, which he lived from behind the scenes

Pere Rusiñol, Barcelona 8 June 2024

Madí reviews in his book the years of the procés, which he lived from behind the scenes


The businessman and former right-hand man of Artur Mas reviews in the book ‘Deserving Victory’ his role in the procés and considers that ‘Churchill would have sent troops to stop 1-O’.

David Madí i Cendrós (Barcelona, 1971) is one of the central figures of Catalan nationalism of the last 25 years, although largely unknown to the general public because he has almost always moved in the shadows, which has contributed to exacerbate an image of all-powerful power in the shadows both by those who idolise him and those who attribute all the evils to him: a contemporary Catalan Fouché, grandson of the wealthy businessman Joan B. Cendrós (1916-1986), patron of Pujolism and co-founder of Òmnium Cultural, and one of the leaders of the new convergent generations who conspired to retire Jordi Pujol and thus gain national ambition, who reached the zenith of power with Artur Mas, with whom they unleashed the procés, which then got out of hand and ended up devouring them.

Madí was Mas’s right-hand man for almost three lustrums, until in 2010 he finally left him installed in the presidency of the Generalitat and opened a controversial business career without losing an iota of his ascendancy over him, with the result that many corporations – including some of the most powerful of the Ibex35 with headquarters in Madrid – were queuing up to hire him before the procés dynamited everything. Now he has published Deserving Victory, published by Planeta (Destino in Spanish, Columna in Catalan), a personal journey through these wild years with much valuable information for understanding them -even when one strongly disagrees with his assessments-, above all from the perspective of the Catalanist part of the ruling class in Catalonia, and which seeks to explore ways to undo the knots that have accumulated.

It is an unusual account, given its crudeness, which also aspires to overturn some of the most established clichés of the pro-sovereignty camp itself, and therefore proposes an explanation ‘for adults’, which involves avoiding the Manichaeism that places all the blame on the other side, and modifying the blunder of considering Spain as a failed state, a premise that largely conditioned the haphazard and often improvised challenge of the procés, which Madí considers to be over.

Why does he put Winston Churchill on the front page?

I am a great admirer and reader of Churchill. He strikes me as the great democratic leader of the 20th century. This cover, modernised, is the poster that was hung in London, Deserve Victory, during the year and a bit that they resisted alone against the advance of Nazi troops across Europe. The concept seems to me to be necessary to counter the childishness that Catalanism sometimes displays.

Perhaps he does not dare to go to the ultimate consequences of what he insinuates?

Maybe I haven’t convinced him, but this is not a kind of Catalanet book. It is a more Anglo-Saxon and Churchillian book.

Churchill’s emblematic phrase in this period is: ‘Blood, sweat and tears’. Can independence be achieved without ‘blood, sweat and tears’?

In the book I explain the dilemma after 1 and 3 October and the debate about how we continued. On the one hand, there was the peaceful revolt: declaring independence and defending it peacefully. On the other hand, to convert all the political capital generated into political energy and call elections with a single list and strengthen political pressure. But neither one nor the other is chosen, but a third option, more improvised and with less basis.

Following the logic of independence for adults: can unilateral independence be achieved without blood, sweat and tears? Yes or no?

In the Baltic countries it was done.

There is always a death toll.

Perfection does not exist in any sense.

In the Baltic countries, as in other success stories, independence comes with a change of geopolitical bloc. But I imagine that you, as a ‘liberal’ and ‘Churchillian’, do not want to leave the Western bloc and move to the Russian or Chinese bloc, do you?

There is no Catalan nationalist or sovereigntist who has at any time considered moving to a world of Chinese or Russian alliances, although someone has tried to invent it. It is absolutely false. What we Catalans want is independence within Europe, with the geostrategic vocation of being the capital of the Mediterranean. It is essential to stop being naïve and childish.

So, let’s imagine that your admired Churchill is president of the Spanish government during 1-O. With what we know about him, how do you think he would have reacted?

Undoubtedly by sending in the troops.


Literally. I have no doubt about it.

I’m probably the most pro-Madrid sovereigntist there is.

Independentism, on the other hand, considers Spain to be especially unfriendly.

This is a mistake. I am a liberal and a sovereigntist, but by no means anti-Spanish or anti-Madrid. I am probably the most pro-Madrid sovereigntist there is. The leaders of independence did not know enough about Madrid and Spain, which has a culture of power forged by many centuries of wars, violence, civil wars, an empire that no longer exists but can be felt… In any case: a strong culture of power. That of the Catalans is very different, because we have had the part of history of defending ourselves and not attacking. Therefore, ours is a culture of resisting, and resisting is the opposite of winning. In Catalonia we have to develop a much stronger culture of power than the one we have.

You speak of brutal repression, when it is light years away from what you yourself would expect from your admired Churchill.

Nor can the customs and mores of the times be ignored, fortunately. Look back even 15 or 20 years: the only difference between GAL-1, against ETA, and GAL-2, against the pro- independentists, is that now people are not physically killed. But the set-up is the same in its design, in its way of acting, in its judicial architecture?

Are they all montages?

The first set-up is against Pujol. Let’s be clear: his problem is that he is a man of the Transition with a party of the Transition. And the original sin of the Transition, which made it possible to move from dictatorship to democracy in record time, rests in political terms on a huge bag of illegal financing, which affects all the parties and all the construction companies, the banks and, above all, the monarchy. Seen through today’s eyes it may seem horrible, but it helps to explain why there was no bloodbath. This gives a certain political system, which has to be corrected. In the case of Pujol, which is the beginning of this GAL-2, the objective has never been to clean up the system, but to use a part of it, which was smaller than in others, to break the procés. There is a strategic reflection behind this: the Catalan problem has always been tackled with the famous Ortega formula of compliance, and at a given moment, following the Basque pattern, they say that this has to end and that they have to be broken. And from there they act.

Why Pujol, if they had always agreed?

In terms of the power culture in Madrid, which I know well, it is considered a state issue, and they decide to go for the head. Pujol is the head of the most dangerous element in this affair: if the party of Catalonia’s middle classes swings this way, they really have a problem and they want to tackle it.

But in Catalonia there are proven unscrupulous actions, also in the Pujol family.

Obviously, I am not going to go through life as a purist, and I know that there is something going on everywhere. But the campaign’s vocation is political. The amnesty is situated from 2012, which is where these operations begin, all with the same pattern, and which reveal a huge problem of democratic quality, which we can also see in the case of Begoña Gómez: the same modus operandi of a judiciary in coexistence with the media, which build cases, is repeated.

However, several of these cases of alleged corruption in Catalonia turn out to be brought by the Mossos.

Unfortunately, some of them practice the dirty methods we have seen in the Villarejo cases. Sooner rather than later we will start to find out.

The book is very hard on Josep Lluís Trapero and his time in the Mossos.

I don’t think so… What I say is that in a national crisis, and the procés is one, everyone plays politics, and, in a democracy, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In the case of the Mossos, I think the book explains for the first time what happened, and this helps to understand the subsequent upheavals in the force.

Including court cases?

Including some of the legal cases.

What could a more Catalanist Mossos corps have done without jeopardising peace? It is an armed corps…

The Catalan people have shown that at no time were they going to use violence. What ended up happening on 1-O was not the most likely scenario. The state had not detected the organisation created under the radar for the referendum, but it knew that there were 2,300 public voting points and the logical thing to do was to choose 500 and, in their vicinity, intervene the material to invalidate the vote. But the unexpected happened: the whole chain of command of the state claimed that nobody was going to vote, but they made a big fool of themselves and did not intervene at all. What happened there has still not been explained; hopefully one day it will be known. I think that this situation precipitates a nervous breakdown, and then the truncheon order is given, control is lost, and many things could happen: the Catalans could become afraid and withdraw, an uncontrolled violent scenario or peaceful resistance, which is what happened, without being foreseen or controlled. It is proof that no one in Catalonia wanted violence. Under no circumstances.

Was the procés worth it, with the results it has produced? CiU no longer exists, nationalism has just reaped its worst results since 1980…

This talk about CiU not existing… Convergència is a state of mind and I assure you that it does exist. In any case: the balance is very simple: all the sacrifices and all the hardships were worth it if there was independence. Is there independence? No. That’s just it.

Do you imagine you will see any new challenges to the State?

This is a continuous session. And Catalan nationalism will continue to be in the majority. Now there will come a period of reflection and catharsis and Catalan nationalism can change lanes as often as it suits it as long as it continues to advance. But evidently this path has reached the end of its course.

Is this really accepted?

I devoted many years to elections and electoral analysis, and I learned something basic: all elections, without exception, have an electoral mandate, whether you like it or not. The electoral mandate of the last elections is what it is: sovereignism has lost its majority in Parliament for the first time since 1980 as a result of the last five-year Cainite period. And on the other side, the PSC has united all the forces of those who want to turn the page, but without a sufficient victory. Therefore, the mandate is: end of the road, but understand each other. Getting the electoral mandate wrong often leads to disaster.

Does Puigdemont’s idea of ‘restitution’ have any place in the ‘electoral mandate’ of 12 March?

Legitimately, President Puigdemont has persevered with this idea. It is not clear to me that a large part of the population of Catalonia perceives it in a similar way. In any case, I hope that he will soon be here and that what has been said so many times will be true: what was a political problem has been taken out of politics and has become a disaster. Let’s get back to politics, let’s make politics.

Is it possible to return to politics with the same protagonists, or should politicians have linked to the procés like Artur Mas step aside?

Basically, not a single one of the real fathers of 1-O is left. Don’t forget that Puigdemont takes the field only at the end of a game that starts much earlier. And then comes a Cainite five-year period, which has led to this situation. We are in a new phase, and new phases will require new leadership. This has to be done calmly and with well-defined strategies.

The electoral mandate of 12 March obliges the PSC and the pro-sovereigntists to come to an understanding.

The recipes for a political solution that you propose in your book sound like pujolism.

We are there because we have not been able to win, and we have to ground it in reality. But I disagree with your observation: this proposal has many more implications in terms of real power and strategy in the state than the Pujolism phase.

Isn’t this a new, more ambitious stage of the same Pujolist scheme?

Our generational conspiracy, more than 25 years ago, was never independence, but to put things on the bottom rung. I have always declared myself a sovereigntist, not an independentist, which seems to me to be an old concept. I am in favour of ‘the more power, the better’. And although I have a lot of respect for Pujolism, this is something else: the expression of the Catalan middle classes, who want to govern themselves, to control the levers of power and for their goal to be the Catalan nation and not Spain. This is what makes the difference.

With the CUP it is brutal in the book.

With reasons.

What are the reasons?

Of the electoral sociological majority, there is a part of a fraction of parties that corresponds to the CUP, which is the most toxic and corrosive part of sovereignism. They respond to a social majority that would vote ‘yes’ in a referendum, but they are from an incompatible political sphere. I am anti-communist and liberal, but I consider myself a good student of the history of the different communisms and the CUP is a degraded subspecies of all this. They base their ideology on a revolutionary theory of destabilisation: we are no longer going to take the Winter Palace or make the revolution, but through destabilisation they make their weapon of revolution. In all the important moments of the procés they have acted under this premise, which makes them operationally useless.

Have you read El eco de los pasos, the autobiography of the anarchist Joan Garcia Oliver?


It is a book of reference in some sectors of the CUP, which is linked to the CNT, which has deep historical roots in Catalonia. If you had read it, perhaps it would have become clear to you that their aim was not only independence, but also to destroy the party of the bourgeoisie, and I would say that they achieved the latter, wouldn’t you say? In the book he calls you ignorant, but what if you were ignorant because you did not understand this political tradition?

I don’t want you to be offended, but you are now in four deputies, which is the normal space in Catalonia for this kind of communist-litronic generation. But I will read El eco de los pasos.

He writes that the CUP ‘was infiltrated on all four sides by the CNI’ Where does he get it from?

It is a finding, moreover, derived from recordings of the Tándem case. There is a conversation between the Secretary of State and Villarejo in which he explains that he is being informed in real time of the CUP assembly. It is a fact.

Do you fear a judicial coup d’état to stop the amnesty?

In Spain there are many Villarejos, big and small. Civil servants who do not serve the state, but believe they own it: in the judiciary, in the security forces, in the Tax Agency, which is the worthy heir of the Spanish Inquisition… All democrats should agree to make a law on the abuse of public officials because many lives can be destroyed with impunity. It must be confronted.

But do you take the amnesty for granted, as many pro-independence supporters seem to do?

It has to be sanctioned and published in a few days and we will see. It would be very serious if it were to be stopped, but the reality is that one of the fundamental powers of the state, the judiciary, is clearly rebelling against this democratic decision.

There are many Villarejos in Spain, large and small.

Following your idea of ‘independence for adults’, perhaps one could also speak of ‘capitalism for adults’. Don’t you think it is naïve to pretend to represent strategic Spanish companies, with strong links to the state, and at the same time work actively for the independence of Catalonia?

Everyone was involved in politics and the business world too. I was simply on the losing side. But let’s talk about ‘capitalism for adults’: we have a major degradation of political life. I’m very Anglo-Saxon: I’m in favour of open politics, of people coming in and out easily. We have created a political caste system, because the problem is not that professional talent enters and leaves, but that they stay for 25 or 30 years… We cannot make it so difficult for people to leave politics. When people talk about revolving doors, I always say: mandatory doors!

Compulsory doors?

If after providing a public service the only thing you can do is waiter in a bar, then you have to be subsidised for the rest of your life. This is stupid and we have to choose the sensible option. Here, with so much incompatibility, we have brought politics to a point where it is incapable of attracting talent. Another issue: that of politicians’ relatives, as in the case of Begoña Gómez. How do we resolve this debate, to what degree of familiarity? It is a debate about political quality and in Spain we are turning it into a poor politics, to which only the adventurous, the rich or those aspiring to the last rung of the civil service will be able to dedicate themselves. And I am a firm believer in public-private partnerships, with people who know both worlds.

So, let us apply Anglo-Saxon criteria to the position you held at Endesa: can you imagine in the Anglo-Saxon world a strategic company for the State with managers who seek the destruction of the State?

I don’t think that was my case.

You were Endesa’s delegate in Catalonia, a strategic company for Spain, and at the same time, as you explain in the book, you received people from the CUP at Endesa with your lunchbox of gazpacho.

Don’t put it like that. In my case, as president of Endesa’s Territorial Council in Catalonia, I had the obligation to handle institutional relations. And this specific case of the CUP is actually the other way around: I delayed the meeting several times because I feared that they wanted to use it to occupy the headquarters with the energy poverty collective. Big companies, contrary to what conspiracy theories maintain, when elections come around, they shy away as much as possible from political connotations because companies don’t vote. People vote and each one belongs to his or her father and mother.

And how do Anglo-Saxon criteria fit in with Nubul, the consultancy you created after leaving Mas in the presidency of the Generalitat? As the book makes clear, you had an extraordinary relationship with President Mas and many of your clients aspired to participate in public tenders of the Generalitat. Your main asset was access to Mas.

Well, it seems that your criteria is very impoverishing for me. I have a much broader spectrum. My last public office was in 2003, my last incompatibility in 2005 and my last party membership in 2010. And I have not had a single income from a public company in all these years in a country where this seems almost impossible.

Shouldn’t it be publicised when a private company hires a consultant who is the gateway to the president?

Surely you do not understand my philosophy in the many businesses I have done. There is nothing more democratic in a country than how private interests are defended. We have absolutely inefficient and autistic administrations, which make catastrophic decisions and live outside the business world. I don’t like this public-private model we have in Spain. The state has to do what it has to do and nothing more. Generating civil servants is not generating wealth.



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