ISABEL GARCIA PAGAN BARCELONA. 27/12/2020
Without nostalgia Mas, photographed on the beach of El Bogatell in Barcelona, has definitively closed his way through active politics. Pedro Madueño
Artur Mas: “Nothing went as expected”
“It took me a long time to become president, and when you arrive, it is neither placid nor long, it is tumultuous and short” … On December 27, 2010, more than 700 guests waited cowering from the cold to congratulate Artur Mas in the Pati dels Tarongers. José Montilla had just given him, not without difficulties, the medal that goes from president to president from Francesc Macià: “I feel like a builder of the Catalan nation.”
Ten years later, sitting in his office as an expresident at the Palau Robert, Mas asks that a painting be taken down to make sense of that phrase: they are two drawings by Oriol Malet: “Prat de la Riba, the great builder with few tools, that of the government of the best; and Macià, the man of ideals and epic ”. That was the symbiosis that Mas was looking for for his presidency, but “nothing went as expected.”
Do you regret leaving? “What is done, is done”, responds between laments for the lack of independentist unity
They were not minor issues. He thought that the worst of the crisis had passed but was yet to come; budget cuts touched bone; he did not calculate that he would have in front of a PP with an absolute majority, nor the profound turn of Catalanism, which was from the demand for more self-government to independence. “And I never thought that Jordi Pujol would make that confession of 2014”. But raise your hands.
“Despite the stereotypes, things have always been difficult for me. So I was not surprised. ” A half smile appears on his face. Although seen in perspective … After Pujol, he is the president with the longest time in office. A horizon of two legislatures had been set: “I was right, there were two, but I was wrong when calculating the duration.”
Did it all start with Artur Mas? They blame the former president for having lit the fuse of the sovereign process. He rejects it. He came to the presidency with a deep crisis, 25% unemployment, the Generalitat almost bankrupt and the ruling of the TC cutting the Statute. And he promised “the Government of the best.” The cartoon was immediate. Mas’s thesis is that to “lift Catalonia” it was necessary to overcome the seams of the parties. “Very relevant people gave me a no,” he laments. He added Andreu Mas-Colell, Francesc Xavier Mena, Boi Ruiz and… Ferran Mascarell, who had just been the tripartite councilor for the PSC. The Great House of Catalanism.
But today he does not see any party “capable of bringing together in a single project people as different as CiU did, there is no leadership or similar electoral expectations.” For the former president, the closest thing was the candidacy of Junts pel Sí, which in 2015 united the CDC, ERC and a good handful of independentists. They won the same CiU seats in 2010 (62). JxCat “tries but doesn’t succeed”, they have the leadership of Carles Puigdemont, but “they are not able to stay together!” holds redundant. And ERC … “does not say so but is inspired” by CiU in its strategy in Madrid. Unlike the ERC Republicans, Mas boasts “Take what you can and take it home”: “it served to achieve resources and skills and articulate the country: the Mossos, linguistic immersion, TV3 … The obsessions of the State against Catalanism are the product of that policy.”
After a year, nine months and 17 days in the presidency, Mas called elections. In the Day of Catalonia, the Diada of 2012, more than a million people demonstrated and Rajoy slammed the fiscal pact. “We would have been a puppet in the hands of the PP. It would have led us to be residual ”. He believes that his only alternative was to change the PP for ERC as an ally and open the door to a referendum. “I could not go from autonomism to sovereignty without the endorsement of the ballot box,” he says. A 180º turn for which he relied on polls that gave him an absolute majority but costed him 12 deputies. “What for me was a resounding defeat, would now be a luxury.”
“There is no place for nostalgia “
That campaign meant not only the CiU’s move to defend its own state, but also the first incursion by the patriotic police: Mas was accused of having accounts abroad. “I was the first to get hit.” Also for the disqualification for the consultation of 9-N of 2014. “Then worse blows came.”
But he was a candidate for the Generalitat five times and he won all five, although he only managed to become president on two occasions. The others were prevented by two tripartites and, in 2016, “a decision of mine,” he stresses. It is how he defines “his step to the side” that turned Carles Puigdemont into an unexpected president and that the CUP assumed the phrase “we have sent Mas to the trash of history.” Today also marks the fifth anniversary of the CUP assembly in Sabadell in which a tie at 1,515 votes stopped Mas’s third investiture. In his house there was “a feeling of injustice but not a tear was shed.” “It was a liberation,” he says.
There is no room for “personal or political” regret. “What is done, is done” he says. But he defends that he left to “guarantee the continuity of the sovereign process” and maintain the unity of the independence movement. The CUP veto weighed but I knew that, “if I did not leave and the elections were repeated, ERC would not repeat Junts pel Sí.” And he adds, “the great absurdity is that Junts pel Sí was created when the repression was not so strong and unity is now broken just when it is most needed.” “Today there is no unity of action, no strategy, no trust,” he laments.
He feels “most responsible” for what happens until January 2016, “jointly responsible” until October 1, 2017 and “not responsible” thereafter. “I would have done things differently,” he says. Although he also admits that “I could have found myself in the same situation as Puigdemont. The orchestra was directed by the State and I don’t know what would have happened ”.
He has not spoken with his successor for a couple of months, the breakdown of the post-convergent space has made him choose and Mas has chosen to stay at PDECat. His styles are different, but he insists on highlighting his “personal loyalty” to the former president and “political harmony in many things.” But he does not deny anyone, not Jordi Pujol either. “He has my affection, my friendship and my appreciation for his great work of government. You have to know how to separate things ”, ditch.
Pujol’s confession ends with the CDC, the move to PDECat “is not made with the necessary force” and the cause of the 3% threatens his future. Nor does he regret that next step. “He had to give way to new leadership.” Now the PDECat needs him in the 14-F campaign to survive. He prefers a low profile and not facing Junts.
“There is no place for nostalgia.” And the time of ambition passed.