In English Voices From Spain

Tales and Accounting – Part II: Artur Mas

Excerpts from the book: “Las cuentas y los cuentos de la independencia”. Josep Borrell and Joan Llorach. Ed Catarata. 2015 


“How Oriol Junqueras and Artur Mas state their arguments in support of independence”


«Because of their differing social origins, careers, motivations and political trajectories, Mas and Junqueras are two markedly different personalities.

Regarding independence, Mas is also different from Junqueras. He’s always been on the fence. His pro-independence position is newfound. Certain events justify such position, according to him. Among them, the Constitutional Court ruling against the new Catalonian statute of autonomy and Rajoy’s rejection of a “fiscal agreement”. But, more importantly, as a reaction to avoid being overrun by the September 11th demonstrations. His calculation was that if he appeared as the first one in appealing to “the will of a people”, or at least as the one with the loudest institutional platform, the “people” would reward him with parliamentary majorities.

This calculation has been proven wrong. But some processes are very hard to control once started.

[…] For example, on April 10th 2011 Mas participated in a volunteer-organized referendum on independence held in Barcelona. Forcadell, ANC president at the time, opined President Mas did not want to vote […] but he voted because he saw he would reap a bigger electoral reward by doing so. [38]

[…] In late 2011 he still believed it did not make sense to lead a process towards secession, due to the risk, in his view, of splitting Catalan society in two. Hence, he prioritized the financial arrangement known as the “fiscal agreement”: The fiscal agreement is the road. Or what are we going to do now, rush a short-term plan that, in addition to all of the other problems we have in Catalonia, break us, split the country in two? [40]

Afterwards, though, in an interview with Josep Cuní, Mas said that he became pro-independence in July 2010 because of the Constitutional Court ruling, this is to say, one and a half years before the previous quote [41]

Actually, Artur Mas switched from the fiscal agreement to a referendum after the September 11th demonstration in 2012.

[…] As President of the Generalitat [regional government -TN], Mas also highlighted the exceptionality of Catalonia’s fiscal deficit […]: No other European territory endures a fiscal drain of 8.10% like Catalonia does. [43]

[…] “If Catalonia did not sustain such a large fiscal deficit with Spain, $20billion a year, in two or three years we could be debt-free.” [44]

[…] It is possible that he may actually believe that, maybe be because he does not understand how that figure is calculated. This is a doubtful proposition when talking about a former finance regional minister. Or maybe he’s perfectly aware and tells a self-serving story. Whatever the case may be, as we will discuss later, what he says is not true.

[…] Mas also mentions an alleged fiscal deficit ceiling for German Lander as an argument. Junqueras, Mas and almost everybody, have always used the German example as the reference to show that Catalonia suffers a “fiscal pillage”, as a model to which we should aspire. […] he as also assumed the talking points about the right to self-determination, albeit never by its actual name. And, of course, resorting to Obama as an argument of authority, by distorting his speech to the UN about self-determination: On September 25th 2012 President Obama spoke on self-determination: we believe that freedom and self-determination are universal values, not exclusive of to particular culture [46] […] in that speech, Obama is talking exclusively about Arab countries living under authoritarian regimes. We will also see how the US government did all that was possible and diplomatically acceptable to help Canada’s government prevent the independence of Quebec.»

[38] Viladecavalls Event for Independence

[40] TV3

[41] 8TV

[43] Meeting with the press organized by Europa Press

[44] La Vanguardia

[46] Conference at Columbia University

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