In the political class of this country, due to their formal education, most of the 135 deputies of the new Parliament of Catalonia are very similar to each other: lawyers, economists, graduates in Business Administration, professors, journalists, sociologists, historians , philologists, people of social baccalaureate. Many less come from scientific or technological professions and very few from trades, business or trade.
The meager presence of the trades is surprising: I have not been able to see carpenters, bricklayers, transporters, waitresses, clerks, cooks, dry cleaners, policemen, firefighters, installers, repositories, saleswomen, cashiers or painters. The political indifference to the assaults on the shop windows and the looting of the shops in the center is very typical of people who have never worked there.
There are athletes: Núria Picas i Albets, runner and champion of the 2015 Ultra Trail World Tour World Cup. Or actors: Francesc Ten i Costa, philologist, is a professional actor, as was Ada Colau, of the City Hall of Barcelona. I never understood why so many stretches criticized U.S. President Ronald Reagan for being an actor and unionist.
A few deputies are doctors or graduates in Biology. I think that there is only one physicist –the deputy and mayor of Ripoll, Jordi Munell i Garcia–, a mathematician –Eulàlia Reguant Cura–, and a chemist –Silvia Paneque i Sureda.
The hard sciences have a poor representation in the Catalan Chamber. There will be half a dozen engineers from different specialties and a few architects and surveyors. And some entrepreneur.
Among the mayors of the top 10 Catalan cities by population (Barcelona, L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Terrassa, Badalona, Sabadell, Lleida, Tarragona, Mataró, Santa Coloma de Gramenet and Reus), the profiles are similar to those of the deputies; There are very prominent professionals, such as David Bote Paz, from Mataró, PhD in Physics, and Carles Pellicer i Punyed, from Reus, a merchant. Mayors stand out for their informal education, as they tend to be closer to the people than deputies or other political officials.
Among the Catalan trade unionists, Javier Pacheco, from CCOO, has always worked in the automotive sector – at Nissan – and Camil Ros i Duran, from UGT, is an administrator. As I said, the trade union is a more than respectable tradition: Kjell Stefan Löfsen, the Prime Minister of Sweden, is a welder.
The educational profiles of politicians are similar in almost all developed countries. In the United States, one-fifth of congressmen and senators have worked in education, like me, and there are nearly twice as many lawyers as there are businessmen and traders. There are many public servants, and of course, dozens of small town mayors, former governors of state, agents and officials.
The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, is a book- maker (École Nationale d’Administration, an elite school created by De Gaulle in 1945). Macron, like Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, are alumni of the Jesuits.
In Germany, the great Angela Merkel has a PhD in Physics and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, is a doctor. But Harry Truman, the president of the United States between 1945 and 1952, who defined two-generation world politics, was not a college graduate. He didn’t need it. Nor to the honest British Prime Minister John Major (1990-1997).
There are fierce critics of meritocracy. Recently, Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel, in his book The Tyranny of Meritocracy , argues that merit feeds back cradle privileges, which is an alibi for the powerful.
It is largely true, but here is a confusion: the merit is not the titles, for nothing, but the mastered profession, 20 years of good performance are worth more than two university degrees, before a baker or a bus driver that a sociologist, or an entrance jurist: in the oven, you buy a euro and a half of bread and they give you good change and good humor. Always.
To bring the informal education of the political class closer to the warm ways of those who serve us every day, an old dream is to limit the duration of political mandates, but it would be enough to open and unblock the electoral lists, which would let us choose who will serve us.
I don’t have much hope: approving an electoral law that would eliminate the provincial constituency – Catalan sovereignty adores the four provinces – and that would open and unblock the electoral lists is an old aspiration of many real reformers. These are the background changes. But they demand a lot of education. Insist on it.