Artur Mas

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Artur Mas
Official portrait, 2011
129th[1] President of the Government of Catalonia
In office
24 December 2010 – 11 January 2016
MonarchsJuan Carlos I
Felipe VI
Vice PresidentJoana Ortega
Neus Munté
Preceded byJosé Montilla
Succeeded byCarles Puigdemont
First Minister of Catalonia
In office
19 January 2001 – 20 December 2003
PresidentJordi Pujol
Preceded byJosep Tarradellas (1937)
Succeeded byJosep-Lluís Carod-Rovira
Leader of the Opposition of Catalonia
In office
27 May 2004 – 23 December 2010
Preceded byPasqual Maragall (2003)
Succeeded byJoaquim Nadal
Minister of Economy and Finance of Catalonia
In office
30 July 1997 – 17 January 2001
PresidentJordi Pujol
Preceded byMacià Alavedra
Succeeded byFrancesc Homs Ferret
Minister of Town and Country Town and Public Works of Catalonia
In office
15 June 1995 – 30 July 1997
PresidentJordi Pujol
Preceded byJaume Roma
Succeeded byPere Macias
Personal details
Artur Mas i Gavarró

(1956-01-31) 31 January 1956 (age 68)
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Political partyIndependent (since 2023)
Other political
Catalan European Democratic Party (2016–2023)
Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (1991–2016)
SpouseHelena Rakosnik
Alma materUniversity of Barcelona (BSS)

Artur Mas i Gavarró (Catalan pronunciation: [əɾˈtuɾ ˈmas]; born 31 January 1956) is a Catalan politician. He was president of the Government of Catalonia from 2010 to 2015[2] and acting president from September 2015 to 12 January 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] until the party was refounded in July 2016 as PDeCAT, which he presided between July 2016 and January 2018.

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 Aula escola europea, 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]

Juan Mas Roig, great-great-grandfather of the former president of the Generalitat Artur Mas, was a slave ship captain who in 1844 moved 825 slaves from Africa to Brazil.[11]


Before acquiring political responsibilities in Catalonia, Mas [12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

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.[15] 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[16]—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).[17][18]

On January 9, 2018, he resigned as president of the PDeCAT, decision that he had made months previously but postponed because of the political crisis. According to what he said, this did not mean his abandoning politics, but that it was taking a back seat.[19][20]



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.[21] 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[22] 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".[23]

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.[24]

2012–2015: Catalan independence movement[edit]

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.[25] 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[26] to 1.5 million.[27] 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".[28]

Despite Mas going to the polls with a view to attain an absolute majority in the regional parliament[29] 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[28] 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[30] and 24 December he took up office at the Palace of the Government of Catalonia.[31]

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 would 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.[32][33][34]

Protest against the trial of Artur Mas, Joana Ortega and Irene Rigau on 6 February 2017


Mas intended to avoid prosecution by reducing it to a non-binding and purely symbolic vote, and staffing it with volunteers.[35][36] Despite these efforts the Spanish Central Government still deemed the vote as unconstitutional and thus illegal. Eventually, Mas went ahead in defiance of an order from Spain's constitutional court, leading to his trial. Mas was charged by the 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.[37][38] A trial was opened, Mas rested accused of abuse of power and disobedience, as a result facing a ban from holding public office of up to 10 years.[39][40]

In the event, in March 2017 Mas was barred from public office for two years by a court in Barcelona for organizing an illegal vote in defiance of the Spanish courts. He was also fined 36,500 euros.[41]


In February 2012, in an interview to La Vanguardia, Mas made a statement saying that "the cultural DNA of Catalans is intertwined with our long belonging to the Franco-Germanic world. Catalonia, after all, long belonged to the Marca Hispanica and its capital was Aachen, the heart of the Carolingian Empire. Something must endure in our DNA, because we Catalans have an umbilical cord that makes us more Germanic than Roman."[42][43]

Mas espouses the vision that "Spain can only become a full nation if Catalonia ceases to be a part of it".[44]

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 far-left separatist party Popular Unity Candidacy[45] (CUP).[46] 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 eleventh hour from his candidature for the presidency in order to allow a government to be formed and a third consecutive snap election to be avoided.[47] At that point, Mas also resigned from his seat in the parliament, remarking that he would place his “personal efforts in rebuilding what Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC) means and represents in Catalonia”.[48]

Subsequently, as CDC was refounded as PDeCAT, Mas retained the presidential role in the refounded party.[49] On January 9, 2018, he renounced the presidential role of PDeCAT.[50]


  1. ^ "Presidents of the Generalitat". Generalitat de Catalunya. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  2. ^ Buck, Tobias (29 June 2017). "Catalonia's referendum exposes a divided Spain". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 10 December 2022.
  3. ^ a b "UDC sale del Govern y pone en jaque una alianza de 37 años de CiU". La Vanguardia. 17 June 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  4. ^ "Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya". Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  5. ^ "Artur Mas, en el nacimiento de Convergais". Ambiente G. 27 May 2008. Archived from the original on 1 July 2017. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  6. ^ ""No s'entén la llibertat de Millet"". Televisió de Catalunya. Archived from the original on 5 January 2012. Retrieved 2011-01-27.
  7. ^ "Artur Mas: Votaría sí en un referéndum sobre la independencia de Cataluña". Voz Libre. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  8. ^ Minder, Raphael (5 October 2012). "Catalan Leader Boldly Grasps a Separatist Lever". New York Times. Retrieved 1 July 2023.
  9. ^ "Vital | Artur Mas". Archived from the original on 12 November 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
  10. ^ "Artur Mas". (in Catalan). Archived from the original on 7 April 2014.
  11. ^ Quan 'català' era sinònim de 'negrer' El País, October 12, 2017.
  12. ^ "Artur Mas | Catalunya Diari". (in Catalan). Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  13. ^ El Pais newspaper, "Artur Mas short biography Archived 10 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine" (in Spanish, 1996)
  14. ^ "Eleccions al Parlament 2012: Artur Mas i Gavarró". Regió 7 (in Catalan). 2012.
  15. ^ New York Times, "Catalan Voters Lean Left"
  16. ^ New York Times, "Party Urging More Autonomy From Spain Seems to Win in Catalonia"
  17. ^ Verdict of Spanish Constitutional Court (in Spanish)
  18. ^ "Els detalls de la sentència". El Periódico de Catalunya (in Catalan). 10 July 2010. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  19. ^ "Artur Mas se va, incapaz de controlar el plan de ruptura de Puigdemont". ELMUNDO (in Spanish). Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  20. ^ "Artur Mas dimite como presidente del PDeCAT: "Doy otro paso al lado"". (in Spanish). Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  21. ^ TV3 (Catalan public TV channel), "Independents fill 'government of the best'"
  22. ^ BLANCHAR, À. PIÑOL, M. NOGUER, CLARA (23 December 2010). "Mas, investido presidente con la abstención del PSC". El País. Retrieved 27 September 2017.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  23. ^ "Mas defensa una "transició nacional" de Catalunya basada en el dret a decidir". Europa Press-Avui (in Catalan). 20 December 2010.
  24. ^ "La abstención del PPC permite la aprobación de los presupuestos de Catalunya de 2012". 15 February 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  25. ^ "It is time for the people Catalonia to exercise their right to self-determination" (in Catalan). Ara. 25 September 2012.
  26. ^ "Unas 600.000 personas en la manifestación independentista". 14 September 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  27. ^ "400 kilometer Menschenkette für die Unabhängigkeit". Die Welt (in German). 11 September 2013.
  28. ^ a b Moffett, Matt (5 September 2013). "Catalan Separatists to Link for Independence Cause". The Wall Street Journal.
  29. ^ Coll, CNA / Gaspar Pericay. "Party Review – the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) asks for an "exceptional majority" to back self-determination". Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  30. ^ "Mas, investit a la primera amb els vots de CiU i ERC". Ara (in Catalan). 21 December 2012.
  31. ^ "Presa de possessió del president de la Generalitat". Generalitat de Catalunya (in Catalan). 26 December 2012. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014.
  32. ^ "Spanish parliament rejects Catalan Independence Vote". BBC. 8 April 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  33. ^ 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" Archived 17 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Government of Catalonia.
  34. ^ "Political parties announce date for vote on Catalonia independence". CNN. 12 December 2013.
  35. ^ "Catalans vote in symbolic referendum on independence in defiance of Madrid". the Guardian. 9 November 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2022.
  36. ^ Barcelona, Ashifa Kassam in (9 November 2014). "Catalans vote in symbolic referendum on independence in defiance of Madrid". the Guardian. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  37. ^ "Catalan president faces multiple charges after independence referendum". the Guardian. 21 November 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2022.
  38. ^ Barcelona, Stephen Burgen in (21 November 2014). "Catalan president faces multiple charges after independence referendum". the Guardian. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  39. ^ Barcelona, Ashifa Kassam in (29 September 2015). "Catalan leader faces abuse of power claims". the Guardian. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  40. ^ Barcelona, Jesús García in. "La fiscalía evita pedir cárcel para Artur Mas por la consulta del 9-N". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  41. ^ Duarte, Esteban (13 March 2017). "Former Catalan Leader Convicted Over 2014 on Independence". Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  42. ^ "Entrevista Artur Mas el Magazine". La Vanguardia. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  43. ^ Laínz, Jesús (2014). España contra Cataluña: Historia de un fraude. Ediciones Encuentro. p. 190. ISBN 978-84-9055-248-3.
  44. ^ Bassets, Lluís (1 March 2020). "España como problema, Cataluña como solución". El País (in Spanish). España sólo podrá ser una nación plena si Cataluña deja de formar parte de ella.
  45. ^ Minder, Raphael (28 December 2015). "Tied Vote on Catalan Separatist Leader in Spain". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  46. ^ Moffett, Matt (3 January 2016). "Catalan Independence Push Dented by Far-Left Party". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 27 September 2017 – via
  47. ^ Moffett, Matt (9 January 2016). "Catalan President Artur Mas to Step Aside". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 27 September 2017 – via
  48. ^ "This is in the interest of the country, which comes before anything else". Archived from the original on 30 October 2017. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  49. ^ "El Partit Demòcrata encumbra a Mas con el 95% de los votos". 23 July 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  50. ^ "La retirada de Mas: Del pas al costat a l'erosió del cas Palau | NacióDigital".


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Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Town and Country Town and Public Works of Catalonia
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Economy and Finance of Catalonia
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New office Government Spokesperson of Catalonia
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Title last held by
Josep Tarradellas
Prime Minister of Catalonia
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Title last held by
Pasqual Maragall
Leader of the Opposition of Catalonia
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Preceded by President of the Government of Catalonia
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Party political offices
Preceded by President of Democratic Convergence of Catalonia
Preceded by General Secretary of Democratic Convergence of Catalonia
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Preceded by President of Convergence and Union
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