"They won't find anything because there's nothing illegal in these allocations". The President of the Generalitat was blunt in his affirmation and accused the Guardia Civil of "overacting and exaggeration" in arresting the CDC Treasurer Andreu Viloca. Artur Mas went on to say that "it wasn't removed from the political moment we're going through" in particular at a time when Junts pel Sí and the CUP are in negotiations over investing him as President. He also said that both he and the party were "Big Game" in the eyes of the Spanish State.
* This article is a loose translation of Artur Mas "CDC y yo mismo somos objeto de caza major" published on La Vanguardia website on 21/10/2015
In the press conference, originally called in order to comment on the signing of the decree for the constitution of the Parliament of Catalonia, Mas made it clear that the investigations of Anti-Corruption Public Prosecutors directly affect both CDC and the Generalitat and also was prepared to stick his neck out and say there were no irregularities. In particular, Mas defended the behaviour of the company GISA, run by Josep Antoni Rosell, and said "They can look at everything, search everything and take everything away, but I'm convinced that all the company's allocation documents are impeccable and the most demanding in Spain".
Artur Mas said that the company had an "incredibly transparent guarantee system" and he was prepared to appear before Parliament this week to provide any explanations required. This would be the second time he has appeared in the Chamber over the so-called 3% case, in which party is accused of charging companies a 3% commission in return for public works contracts.
Mas also expressed complete confidence in his party's administrators, although he didn't specifically mention Andreu Viloca at any point. "I maintain my confidence in the CDC administrators" he said, but "if they show themselves to be unworthy, we'll take decisions although I'm sure it won't be necessary". In fact, "in ten years I haven't needed to take any decision because in ten years there has been no evidence of any serious irregularities", he commented.
Anyway, he admitted that he hasn't been fully responsible for the workings of the party since he became president five years ago, but agreed with the complaints of his colleagues who see the operation as "police persecution" of the party. Mas criticised the Public Prosecutors and the Civil Guard for overreacting and that some of the media had been tipped off in advance that there was going to be another police operation again, as also happened the last time the party's headquarters were searched in August.
"I'm incredibly calm because the Generalitat is one of the most demanding administrations when it comes to allocations" he said.
When asked what would happen to the Catalan independence process if there was found to be any truth in the investigation that has resulted in the arrest of Andreu Viloca, Mas wanted to separate the two issues. "The process needs to isolate itself from everything that is happening to CDC" because "the State will carry on acting" so "if what is happening in Catalonia depends on the actions of the State, things are going badly", he warned.
There could be another election if there's no agreement with the CUP
For Mas, the calling of new elections "isn't the expected, nor wanted, nor desired scenario but given the difficulties in the negotiations with the CUP, it can't be ruled out. He emphasised that "time was necessary" in order to reach an agreement and that so far "there is no green light" and "a few weeks more" could possibly be necessary.
In spite of the delays in the constitution of Parliament and the new government, Mas offered "a full guarantee" that even if there were more delays "governability is guaranteed". He assured that "the government continues working although without the same level of power" and gave "industrial issues" like SEAT as an example.
A Difficult Agreement
The head of government pointed out that reaching the agreement is as difficult for the CUP as it is for Junts pel Sí and made it clear that the "red lines" alluded to by members of his party earlier in the week would probably have to be crossed.
Mas indicated that the two parties' positions remained very distant and that "the CUP certainly would have wanted a very different scenario" but the fact is that "we have to act bearing in mind the current situation". "As we're already used to creating complicities, one more should be no problem" he added optimistically.
Optimism has its limits, though, especially if an agreement isn't reached. So "any lack of agreement takes the country into a very complicated situation and we are all working together to try and avoid that", he insisted. However, all negotiations have "their instalments, their sequences, their ups and downs, and you have to accept reality", he commented.
1.5 Votes Say Mas Should Be President
Mas was also asked about the possibility of him not being invested President, as has been suggested by the CUP and remains the main obstacle to reaching an agreement. At this point, he vindicated the legitimacy of him leading the next legislature, given the support of ERC and the results of Junts pel Sí in the recent elections.
"With all due modesty, I've always stuck my neck out and I already know that there are a lot of people determined that I should go" but "it's not an issue of Artur Mas now" but rather "democratic legitimacy, which is what the CUP are arguing for when they say the opposite". For this reason, Mas believes that both sides' positions, for and against him as president, are legitimate but the difference is that on the CUP's side there are 370,000 votes and on the JxSí side there are more than a million and a half.
Mas wanted to simplify the agreement with the CUP by saying that it's not an agreement for a whole legislature but simply to facilitate the investiture so that the result of September 27th is reflected in Parliament and in the government. In fact, he admitted that "the CUP won't give a stable majority to everything throughout the whole of the legislature" but can facilitate him becoming president in order to apply the pro-independence majority.
Parliament will be constituted on October 26th
The president held the press conference after signing the decree for the constitution of the new Parliament of Catalonia. This will take place on Monday 26th October, when the main representatives of the chamber will be elected and the XIth legislature will officially begin, even though there is no government.
The fact that the time for constituting Parliament has reached its limit is a direct result of the negotiations between Junts pel Sí and the CUP. Now the clock is ticking towards November 9th, when the first vote on the investiture of the president will be held. In order to be elected president in this first vote, Mas will need an absolute majority.
If he doesn't achieve this, there will be a period of two months in which he can attempt to obtain a simple majority of more Yes than No votes and this could well take us to January 9th in the new year.