Felip Puig: from party discipline to Catalonia’s security
Puig is the new Home Affairs Minister, famous for his rough style. He is a survivor of the Pujol Governments, in which he held several posts, such as Spokesperson and Minister for Public Works. This civil engineer with a Bachelors degree in business administration is the number 2 in Artur Mas’ party, Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya, the Liberal and Centrist wing of CiU.
Barcelona (ACN).- Felip Puig (1958) is the next Catalan Minister for Home Affairs, in charge of the Catalan Police. Puig is the official number 2 of the Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC), the Liberal and largest party in the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition, Convergència i Unió (CiU). Artur Mas, the President of the Catalan Government, is the CDC\u2019s Secretary General. Puig is a longstanding member of the CDC family, currently in charge of party order and discipline, as well as delivering the harshest criticism of the former Left-Wing Government. In this position, Puig is known for his hard-hitting way of handling issues, which leaves no one indifferent. This makes him both controversial and beloved by many CDC members.
Puig became a right-hand man of the historic CiU leader, Jordi Pujol, occupying several key positions in his last governments. When Artur Mas became the leader of the CiU, Puig continued to be a cornerstone of the party and earned Mas\u2019 trust. Although Puig is not a member of Mas\u2019 most inner circle, which is very limited, he counts with Mas\u2019 trust. Mas kept him in a party leadership position, in charge of internal party discipline and criticising political adversaries. Now, Puig has earned his reward, proving that Mas still trusts him.
Precisely because Puig is not a member of Mas\u2019 innermost circle, popularly known as \u201Cthe bone\u201D, it was not crystal clear that he would be included in the next Catalan Government. In addition, his tough ways, which sometimes position him in the midst of controversies, resulted in a downplaying of his institutional profile. However, after days of speculations about Puig\u2019s future, Artur Mas decided to give him a key responsibility: that of Catalonia\u2019s home security. It is a difficult, but highly respected, position. With this move, Puig is rewarded for his years of hard work and services to the party. It also proves that Artur Mas trusts him, by putting him in charge of an extremely delicate area.
Felip Puig has already served as a Minister in the Catalan Government. He was Minister for the Environment between in 1999 and 2001, when the former Catalan President Jordi Pujol appointed him Minister for Public Works and Transport. He held that position until the fall of the CiU Government in December 2003. In addition, since 2002 he was also Pujol\u2019s Government\u2019s Spokesperson, while Artur Mas served as \u201CHead Minister\u201D, a sort of Prime Minister.
Felip Puig was born in 1958. He graduated as a civil engineer from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC). He also holds a Bachelors degree in Business Administration. Puig worked in the private sector until 1988. However, he developed an early interest in politics. He joined the CDC in 1976 as a militant. He was a councillor in the Parets del Vallès Town Hall and a county councillor between 1987 and 1991.
Before taking to frontline Catalan politics, Puig held secondary positions in the Catalan Government and public administration. He started his public sector career in 1988, when he joined the Catalan Social Welfare Ministry. He was Director General of the department and, between 1992 and 1996, he served as Deputy Minister. In parallel, throughout this entire period, he served as an executive of the public company in charge of building and managing social housing. In 1996, he switched to party responsibilities and became the CDC\u2019s Organisation Secretary, in charge of the party\u2019s structure and discipline. This put him in contact with the party base. Puig is pro-Catalan independence in his ideology and has a direct way of speaking, which make him appeal to a broad party base. In 1999, after the CiU\u2019s electoral victory, Puig came back to Jordi Pujol\u2019s Government. He became closer to the historic CiU leader and Catalan President. Between 1999 and 2003, early in the period in which Artur Mas became Pujol\u2019s heir, Puig was a cornerstone of the Government and the CiU.
After passing to the opposition, in December 2003, Puig became the CiU\u2019s spokesperson at the Catalan Parliament, a position he retained in the beginning of the second term in the opposition, until October 2007. At that time, he was appointed the CDC\u2019s Deputy Secretary General, under Artur Mas\u2019 leadership. Artur Mas formed a small, close-knit circle of immediate collaborators. Puig was initially included, but less so in recent times.
Puig\u2019s responsibilities and his manner built him a hardline profile, although many CDC members love him. Puig has been central to many controversies and political fights, even with CiU coalition members, the Christian Democratic Unió, especially regarding Catalonia\u2019s independence.
All these factors meant that Puig\u2019s appointment in the new Government was not a given. In the last few days, even Puig himself confessed that he has been considering leaving politics and returning to the private sector, after 22 years. However, Puig underlined that he has never said \u201Cno\u201D to Artur Mas, or to Jordi Pujol. Mas offered him the responsibility of managing the Catalan Police, and Puig naturally said \u201Cyes\u201D.