Mas is an economist who obtained his degree from the University of Barcelona, and is fluent in English and French, in addition to Catalan and Spanish. His ideology tends to be considered liberal from the economic point of view, strongly pro-European, and increasingly supportive of Catalan independence. From the social point of view, he has mostly supported a moderate agenda in numerous issues, such as gay rights, but not same-sex marriage and free debate on his party concerning abortion.
In 2010 for the first time Mas indicated he would vote yes on a hypothetical referendum to secede from Spain. Sovereignty and Catalan independence became the central part of his political agenda.
Artur Mas was born in Barcelona as one of the four children of a wealthy industrialist family. His mother was originally from Sabadell and his father from Poblenou. He studied at the Lycée Français de Barcelone (French language high school in Barcelona), and thanks to it is fluent in French, English, Catalan and Spanish. Later he graduated in Economics from the University of Barcelona and married Helena Rakòsnik.
Before acquiring political responsibilities in Catalonia, he held different posts in both the private and public sectors, especially relating to the internationalization of Catalan enterprises.
Mas ran again for president in the 2006 elections. Though his party CiU won these both in number of votes and seats—unlike in the previous elections, it did not reach the absolute majority of seats in the parliament, allowing PSC's new candidate, José Montilla, to reach an absolute majority by repeating the coalition government with the same left-wing partners (ERC and ICV).
Mas talking to Oriol Pujol at Parliament in 2009
Mas in 2010
Since 2007, he has put special emphasis on initiating a process, known as the Refoundation of Catalanism (in Catalan, Refundació del catalanisme), to build upon the principles and values of the Catalanist movement, in order to enlarge the majority of society in Catalonia that expresses a nationalist feeling, and not merely inside his own party, CDC. The 'Refoundation of Catalanism' that Mas is actively leading calls for Catalonia to obtain the so-called 'Right to decide' on matters that affect it. This implicitly includes the possibility of putting independence from Spain to a hypothetical referendum. This point is significantly closer to the traditionally more separatist positions of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya and has gained momentum since the issue of the verdict on the Catalan Statute—the Estatut—in July 2010 by the Spanish Constitutional Court, which invalidates certain parts of this law although they were backed by a large majority of Catalan voters by referendum back in 2006 (73.9 Yes, 20.7% No, 49.4% Turnout).
The Catalan elections that took place on November 28, 2010 were to finally determine the political future of Mas, who was for the third time the Convergència i Unió candidate to the presidency of the country. During the campaign Mas had promised to put into place the government of 'the best' people, including the possibility of appointing ministers ('Consellers') from outside his political coalition, Convergència i Unió, if their talent justifies doing so. Moreover, he also engaged in a process culminating in full powers over taxation for Catalonia—significantly reducing the so-called 'fiscal deficit' between Catalonia and Spain—by putting this issue to referendum to the Catalans and as a condition for giving any support to Spanish governments in Madrid after the Spanish elections scheduled for 2012.
Surveys had indicated that this time his party would obtain enough seats to govern without being heavily dependent on third parties and with no risk of a repetition of left-wing coalitions like those of 2003 and 2006. His party finally won 62 of the 135 seats in the Catalan Parliament, thus ensuring that Mas will head the next regional government as president of the Generalitat of Catalonia. He was invested as president on December 23, 2010. In the investiture speech, Mas claimed a new funding model for Catalonia inspired by the Economic Agreement and proclaimed the Catalonia national transition based on the right to decide.
On 12 December 2013, Artur Mas, with leaders of five Catalan parliamentary parties, announced the date for the Catalan self-determination referendum, that will be set for Sunday 9 November 2014 and that it will contain a question with two sections: "Do you want Catalonia to become a State?" and "In case of an affirmative response, do you want this State to be independent?". In April 2014 the proposal was presented to the Spanish Parliament and it was defeated by a vote of 299-47. Mas, both before and after this vote has declared that the referendum will take place in a legal manner, but Spanish government has promised to stop the vote through the application of national law.