Joan Tapia President of the Editorial Committee of EL PERIÓDICO.
June 19, 2021-06-19
Nadia Calviño and Javier Faus, at the Cercle d’Economia meeting. / ACN
The long-awaited return of trust
Pujolismo buried, the Catalan bourgeoisie regains independence and pragmatism
Every year the Cercle d’Economia days are a good thermometer for Spain. For a bourgeois audience -mainly Catalan-, political leaders, big businessmen and qualified analysts explain their vision of what is happening and sell their merchandise.
The faces, questions and comments of those gathered are more revealing than a CIS poll. And this year, after the Covid, the economic collapse, the PSOE-Podemos half-term and the great controversy of pardons, the meeting promised.
Outcome? The president of Cercle, Javier Faus, declared: “We are more optimistic.” Of course, the European Commission has given the Spanish project for European funds a remarkable score (19.000 million investment this year) and Pedro Sánchez capitalized – like Macron in France, where regional elections are held this Sunday – the goodbye to the mandatory mask.
Yes, optimism and a return to confidence have marked the days. The initial shot came from Ana Botín, stating that “Spain was going to get off the map” and that the GDP growth could reach 9%, a 50% more than expected by the Government. And Álvarez Pallete (Telefónica), Pablo Isla (Inditex) and Marc Puig (Empresa Familiar) endorsed the bet. After the ruling of Spanish capitalism, Pedro Sánchez did not have to try to sell that “Spain is doing well.” Do you remember? But in a somewhat self-satisfied speech he added: in June there will have been 189,000 registrations to Social Security and in four months (between exits and new registrations) 1,270,000 more active ones.
Banker Ana Botín says that we will grow by 9% and Vice President Calviño has changed her face. Even smile.
But what struck me the most was the face and gestures of the vice-president Calviño. The last time I heard her (I think February) she seemed like a technocrat troubled by falling GDP and widespread pessimism. On Friday, when she had slept little because she was arriving from Luxembourg, she smiled, she spoke of historic opportunity and took advantage of a question to elaborate on fiscal consolidation. Interest rates are low, but in two years we have had to ask the markets for 150,000 million to avoid the collapse. The social and union impulse of the third vice president finds her counterpoint in the second. And Pedro Sánchez can expand on projects, listen to Pepe Álvarez and Unai Sordo, and that everything should pass -minimum salary and labor reform included- through Calviño’s filter, more Galician and shy than Miquel Boyer, but she resembles him.
Not only out of bread lives a man. The key – also for Spain – is to cauterize the Catalan crisis. The pardons have generated a great controversy and Pablo Casado, soft in the forms, spoke of “blow to legality” and “insatiable nationalism”. But the business community – by way of Faus himself and Jordi Gual, former president of CaixaBank – was more ‘sanchista’ than the barons of the PSOE. Pardons are not the magic potion, but they are the right ointment to reduce inflammation.
The public suits applauded, Sánchez Llibre (Foment) followed, and the prudent president of the CEOE, Antonio Garamendi, said that “they should be welcome if they serve to normalize everything”. A famous Catalan businessman whispers to me: “Sánchez is like he is, but he is brave, he can redirect the conflict for us.”
And in this climate –the Catalan bishops from outside also blessed the move– Javier Faus managed to get Felipe VI, until now boycotted by the independence movement for his 2017 speech, and Pere Aragonès, the new president of the Generalitat, greet each other. And the King suggested: “Shall we take a picture?” He wants to normalize relationships. Stealthy businessman: “It’s the minimum, but coming from where we come, honors.”
Another thing. Goirigolzarri said that only supply policies, not demand policies, will correct low productivity and that productive change implies destroying – yes destroying – many jobs and creating others. A small thing to do!.
Javier Faus, in the speech before Sánchez, called for long lights, consensus and an intelligent tax system that allows bringing in talent like that of the socialist António Costa in Portugal. It seems that the Catalan bourgeoisie, having liquidated the Pujolismo, which protected it and annulled it, recovers its own voice: Catalanism, no unilateralism and bridges with the PSC (Iceta and Illa), with Sánchez, and with ERC and Pere Aragonès.
They are not theirs, but there we are.