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It is not the first time that a Catalan president has decided to lower his salary upon taking office - he will receive 130,250.60 euros a year - in a gesture that, without a doubt, honours him, but when the truth is told is neither just, nor exemplary, nor does it dignify the office. Artur Mas did the same thing in 2010 when he took office due to the economic crisis raging at the time, which forced him to take a step so unpopular as cutting the salaries of civil servants by 5%. Mas decided to apply the scissor treatment to his own pay packet as president and to that of his ministers. Thus, after his predecessor, José Montilla, had been receiving a monthly 169,446.78 euros, the CiU leader received 136,834.78 euros. The last president before the arrival of Pere Aragonès, Quim Torra, was assigned a salary of 153,235.50 euros.

The debate on what a country's politicians and key leaders should be paid is as old as Catalonia and is repeated so often that the same arguments almost always end up being applied. There is, in the Catalan case, a sense of guilt that you don't find anywhere else about how much a person is paid to be president of the Generalitat, parliamentary speaker or a government minister. Of course, it is not seen in Madrid. But not in other European capitals either. And taking part in this debate, with one interest or another, there are even those who have no record of taking a similar stand in Madrid. The last person who raised the intention of reducing his salary as president of Catalonia if he had reached the position was the former Spanish minister Salvador Illa, who promised to cut his own salary by 30%.

I have always argued that, in practice, these measures are completely ineffective and run the risk of being perceived as populist. Among other reasons, because taking a pay cut when you are paid 130,000 euros can end up being seem by ordinary mortals as a joke in poor taste, when the unemployment rate in Catalonia in the first quarter, according to the EPA, was 12.9% and unemployment among the under-25s is 33.4%. Not to mention the entrenchment of mileurista salaries - those of around a thousand euros a months - among a dangerously high percentage of those who today have a job.

It is a lost cause, since giving up any proportion of one's pay at this level is not going to stop the public from being irritated with you. We are, therefore, facing a debate that has only one logic: we must try to have good politicians and they have to be well paid. And in the case of the President of Catalonia it is not only about the salary, but rather, with regard to how the highest authority of Catalonia, there is also what is understood as a bubble. Artur Mas began taking flights in economy class in order to lead by example when, if the truth be told, you pay for it 24 hours later. And, meanwhile, others in positions of power move in Spanish Air Force planes or take breaks in the Doñana reserve or in other residences belonging to the Spanish state. Catalans lose sight of the aesthetics, said Miguel de Unamuno, and the truth is that having never had a state of their own in the modern era ends up being more important than you might think.