Artur Mas

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Artur Mas
Artur Mas 2015 (cropped).jpg
Seal of the Generalitat of Catalonia.svg
President of Catalonia
In office
27 December 2010 – 10 January 2016
Vice President Joana Ortega (2010–2015)
Neus Munté (2015–2016)
Preceded by José Montilla
Succeeded by Carles Puigdemont
First Minister of Catalonia
In office
19 January 2001 – 20 December 2003
President Jordi Pujol
Preceded by Josep Tarradellas (1937)
Succeeded by Josep-Lluís Carod-Rovira
Leader of the Opposition of Catalonia
In office
27 May 2004 – 23 December 2010
Preceded by Pasqual Maragall (2003)
Succeeded by Joaquim Nadal
Minister of Economy and Finance of Catalonia
In office
30 July 1997 – 17 January 2001
President Jordi Pujol
Preceded by Macià Alavedra
Succeeded by Francesc Homs Ferret
Minister of Town and Country Town and Public Works of Catalonia
In office
15 June 1995 – 30 July 1997
President Jordi Pujol
Preceded by Jaume Roma
Succeeded by Pere Macias
Personal details
Born Artur Mas i Gavarró
(1956-01-31) 31 January 1956 (age 60)
Barcelona, Spain
Political party Catalan European Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Helena Rakosnik
Children Patricia
Alma mater University of Barcelona
Religion Catholicism[1]

Artur Mas i Gavarró (Catalan pronunciation: [ərˈtur ˈmas]; born 31 January 1956) is a politician from Catalonia, Spain.

He was President of the Generalitat of Catalonia from 2010 to 2015[2] (plus a brief stint as acting president from September 2015 to January 10, 2016).

Mas is a long time member of Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC by its Catalan acronym) which used to be the bigger of the two component members –along with Unió Democràtica de Catalunya– of what at the time was a long-standing electoral coalition, Convergència i Unió (CiU), a liberal nationalist coalition which had dominated Catalan regional politics since the 1980s.[3] In 2001 Mas was named general secretary of CDC, then, in 2012 he was named president of the party[4] a position which he still holds.

From 2003 to 2015 Mas has run five times for the Catalan presidency, four heading the –nowadays defunct– CiU ticket and one running for the novel Junts pel Sí coalition. He attained the presidency in two elections, 2010 and 2012 (both running for CiU) but neither with an absolute majority. In the absence of single party majorities, both tenures were marked by political instability and ended with Mas calling a snap election.

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 and 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[5] and free debate on his party concerning abortion.[6]

In 2010[citation needed] for the first time Mas indicated he would vote 'yes' on a hypothetical referendum to secede from Spain. Since then, sovereignty and Catalan independence have become the central part of his political agenda,[7][8] with Mas being instrumental in CDC's novel turn towards separatism.

Early life[edit]

Mas was born in Barcelona as one of the four children of a wealthy industrialist family.[9] 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 is thereby fluent in French, English, Catalan and Spanish. Later he graduated in Economics from the University of Barcelona and married Helena Rakòsnik.[10]


Before acquiring political responsibilities in Catalonia, Mas held different posts in both the private and public sectors, especially relating to the internationalization of Catalan enterprises. He was a member of the Barcelona City Council from 1987 to 1995, representing the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia.[11] His first high responsibilities in the Catalan government came during the presidency of Jordi Pujol, President of the Generalitat de Catalunya from 1980 to 2003. Artur Mas served as Catalan Minister of Public Works from 1995 to 1997, as Minister of Economy and Finance from 1997 to 2001, and Deputy Prime Minister (conseller en cap) from 2001 to 2003, as well as being the government's official spokesman from 2000 to 2003.[12]

Artur Mas ran for the 2003 elections to the Catalan government and won a plurality of seats in the parliament, with four more than PSC.[13] However, the latter obtained a slightly larger number of votes (this discrepancy between votes and seats obtained is explained by the electoral law and the way seats are assigned). Finally PSC's Pasqual Maragall was elected President, having forged a coalition with two other left-wing parties, the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and Initiative for Catalonia – Greens (ICV).

Mas ran again for president in the 2006 elections. Though his party CiU won these both in number of votes and seats[14]—unlike in the previous election– 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).[15][16]



The Catalan elections that took place on 28 November 2010 were to finally determine the political future of Mas, who was for the third time CiU's candidate to the presidency. 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 justified doing so.[17] Moreover, he also engaged in a process which would culminate in full powers over taxation for Catalonia—significantly reducing the so-called 'fiscal deficit' between Catalonia and the whole of Spain—by putting this issue to referendum to the Catalans and as a condition for giving any support to Spanish governments 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. In the event, CiU won 62 of the 135 seats in the Catalan Parliament, short of an absolute majority.

He was eventually invested as president of the Generalitat on 23 December 2010 thanks to an agreement to get the Socialists' Party of Catalonia (PSC) abstention in the vote[18] 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".[19]

The agreement with the PSC proved fragile, which forced Mas to seek new allies in the regional parliament, this time engaging in talks with the Popular Party (PP). By negotiating PP's abstention, Mas was eventually able to pass the 2012 public budget.[20]


Artur Mas and Oriol Junqueras (Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of Catalonia), signing the 2012–2016 governability agreement in December 2012

In September 2012, less than 2 years into his first term and only months after having closed a de facto agreement with the PP, Artur Mas declared in a speech to Parliament that it was time for the people of Catalonia to exercise the right of self-determination.[21] The declaration had come as fallout from the massive 2012 Catalan independence demonstration which had gathered an estimated number of participants ranging from 600,000[22] to 1.5 million.[23] Hence, on 25 September 2012, Mas announced snap elections for the Parliament of Catalonia to be held on 25 November and argued, referring to the demonstration, that "the street vocal must be moved to the polls".[24]

Despite Mas going to the polls with a view to attain an absolute majority in the regional parliament[25] Mas' led coalition lost in the event 12 seats, making it the biggest loser out of the snap election. Still, the sum of parties defending Catalonia's independence from Spain (CiU and ERC) significantly increased their votes[24] due to ERC's growth compensating CiU's losses; the aggregated support for both parties reached 44.4% of the total and thanks to the electoral law this combined rate was enough to ensure that between both parties they could control more than half the Catalan Parliament seats.

As a result of the election, Mas, on behalf of CiU, had to engage in talks for a stable government, this time with Oriol Junqueras (ERC), who refused to enter a coalition government with Mas but stayed as Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of Catalonia; however, ERC agreed general support to the CiU government and CiU agreed to coordinate with ERC the goals of the legislature; this was termed by the signataries as the "Agreement for Freedom". Artur Mas was invested for the second time President of Catalonia on 21 December 2012[26] and 24 December he took up office at the Palace of the Generalitat of Catalonia.[27]

On 12 December 2013, Artur Mas, with leaders of five Catalan parliamentary parties, announced the date for the Catalan self-determination referendum, that was set for Sunday 9 November 2014 and contained 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 under the Spanish Constitution, referendums on sovereignty must be held nationally and not regionally, which prompted the Spanish government to veto any such referendum.[28][29][30]

Mas intended to avoid prosecution by reducing it to a non-binding and purely symbolic vote, and staffing it with volunteers.[31][32] Despite these efforts the Spanish Central Government still deemed the vote as unconstitutional and thus illegal. Mas has been charged by the Spanish attorney general with perverting the course of justice, misuse of public funds and abuse of power, with regards to the role he assumed in the unofficial referendum.[33][34] A trial has been opened, Mas rests accused of abuse of power and disobedience; as a result he faces a ban from holding public office of up to 10 years.[35][36]

2015 election[edit]

As a result of the political instability resulting from the referendum issue, Mas called a second consecutive snap election. Due to internal tensions within the coalition regarding the separatist turn led by Mas, CDC and Unió did not agree to reform CiU, hence putting an end to 37 years of cooperation between both parties.[3]

Instead, CDC joined forces with ERC in Junts pel Sí, a novel coalition which made public that Mas was going to be its candidate for the presidency, despite not being headed by him (as a result of balance of power negotiations within the coalition, Mas was placed fourth in the electoral ticket). The new coalition attained 62 seats, failing to secure an absolute majority. Unlike the previous election in 2012, support from other parties in the regional parliament could not be taken for granted in 2015, because ERC, which had previously supported CiU's government, had joined CDC in the Junts pel Sí coalition.

The only prospective partner willing to negotiate with Junts pel Sí was the Popular Unity Candidacy[37] (C.U.P. by its Catalan acronym) a far-left separatist party.[38] After a lengthy period of negotiations –started just after the election took place on September 27– Mas was vetoed by the CUP. In January 2016, after three months of what was defined as "rancorous infighting" in the separatist camp, Mas eventually stepped down at the 11-th hour from his candidature for the presidency in order to allow government formation and avoid yet a third consecutive snap election in a five years period.[39]

At that point Artur Mas also resigned from his seat in the parliament, remarking that from that moment he would place his “personal efforts in rebuilding what Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC) means and represents in Catalonia”.[40]


  1. ^ Nagel 2015, p. 206.
  2. ^, "Artur Mas is elected as 129th President of the Generalitat with the abstention of the PSC"
  3. ^ a b UDC sale del Govern y pone en jaque una alianza de 37 años de CiU
  4. ^ Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya|enciclopè
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 January 2012. Retrieved 2011-01-27. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ New York Times, 5 October 2012, Catalan Leader Boldly Grasps a Separatist Lever
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 November 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  10. ^ "Artur Mas". (in Catalan). 
  11. ^ El Pais newspaper, "Artur Mas short biography Archived 10 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine." (in Spanish, 1996)
  12. ^ "Eleccions al Parlament 2012: Artur Mas i Gavarró". Regió 7 (in Catalan). 2012. 
  13. ^ New York Times, "Catalan Voters Lean Left"
  14. ^ New York Times, "Party Urging More Autonomy From Spain Seems to Win in Catalonia"
  15. ^ Veredict of Spanish Constitutional Court (Spanish)
  16. ^ "Els detalls de la sentència". El Periódico de Catalunya (in Catalan). 10 July 2010. 
  17. ^ TV3 (Catalan public TV channel), "Independents fill 'government of the best'"
  18. ^ Mas, investido presidente con la abstención del PSC
  19. ^ "Mas defensa una "transició nacional" de Catalunya basada en el dret a decidir". Europa Press-Avui (in Catalan). 20 December 2010. 
  20. ^ La abstención del PPC permite la aprobación de los presupuestos de Catalunya de 2012
  21. ^ "It is time for the people Catalonia to exercise their right to self-determination" (in Catalan). Ara. 25 September 2012. 
  22. ^ Unas 600.000 en la manifestación independentista
  23. ^ "400 kilometer Menschenkette für die Unabhängigkeit". Die Welt (in German). 11 September 2013. 
  24. ^ a b Moffett, Matt (5 September 2013). "Catalan Separatists to Link for Independence Cause". Wall Street Journal. 
  25. ^ the Centre Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) asks for an "exceptional majority" to back self-determination Catalan News Agency
  26. ^ "Mas, investit a la primera amb els vots de CiU i ERC". Ara (in Catalan). 21 December 2012. 
  27. ^ "Presa de possessió del president de la Generalitat". Generalitat de Catalunya (in Catalan). 26 December 2012. 
  28. ^ "Spanish parliament rejects Catalan Independence Vote". BBC. 8 April 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-21. 
  29. ^ Catalan President Mas: "The country's good sense has made it possible to come to a consensus and agree on an inclusive, clear question, which enjoys broad support", Government of Catalonia.
  30. ^ "Political parties announce date for vote on Catalonia independence". CNN. 12 December 2013. 
  31. ^ Kassam, A. (9 November 2014). Catalans vote in symbolic referendum on independence in defiance of Madrid. The Guardian.
  32. ^ Barcelona, Ashifa Kassam in. "Catalans vote in symbolic referendum on independence in defiance of Madrid". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  33. ^ Burgen, S. (21 November 2014). Catalan president faces multiple charges after independence referendum. The Guardian. Retrieved 5 October 2015, from
  34. ^ Barcelona, Stephen Burgen in. "Catalan president faces multiple charges after independence referendum". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  35. ^ Barcelona, Ashifa Kassam in. "Catalan leader faces abuse of power claims". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  36. ^ Barcelona (Spanish), Jesús García in. "La fiscalía evita pedir cárcel para Artur Mas por la consulta del 9-N". El País. Retrieved 2016-07-18. 
  37. ^ Minder, Raphael. "Tied Vote on Catalan Separatist Leader in Spain". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-12-28. 
  38. ^ Catalan Independence Push Dented by Far-Left Party|WSJ
  39. ^ Catalan President Artus Mas to Step Aside|WSJ
  40. ^ This is in the interest of the country, which comes before anything else" Catalan News Agency


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Jaume Roma
Minister of Town and Country Town and Public Works of Catalonia
Succeeded by
Pere Macias
Preceded by
Macià Alavedra
Minister of Economy and Finance of Catalonia
Succeeded by
Francesc Homs Ferret
New office Government Spokesperson of Catalonia
Succeeded by
Joaquim Nadal
Title last held by
Josep Tarradellas
Prime Minister of Catalonia
Succeeded by
Josep-Lluís Carod-Rovira
Title last held by
Pasqual Maragall
Leader of the Opposition of Catalonia
Succeeded by
Joaquim Nadal
Preceded by
José Montilla
President of Catalonia
Succeeded by
Carles Puigdemont
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jordi Pujol
President of Democratic Convergence of Catalonia
Preceded by
Pere Esteve
General Secretary of Democratic Convergence of Catalonia
Succeeded by
Oriol Pujol i Ferrusola
Preceded by
Jordi Pujol
President of Convergence and Union
Succeeded by
Party dissolved