Biography of Jaume Carner i Romeu (1867-1934)

Lawyer, industrial and Spanish politician, born in El Vendrell, in 1867, and died in Barcelona, in the year 1934, after resign of his ministerial post because of a serious illness. He served as Finance Minister during the Presidency of Manuel Azaña in the second Spanish Republic.

Jaume Carner belonged to a family of active Catalan bourgeoisie. He started his activity of lawyer as an intern of the company Rius y Taulet. In 1901 he began his political career within the Lliga Regionalista, which managed the Mayor's office of Barcelona. In 1904, before the more conservative tendency of his party, decided to separate from the same together with Sunyol and Lluhi i Risec. Jaume Carner, together with the founding group of the newspaper El Poble Catalá (1906), created the Centre nationalist Republic (CNR), held its Presidency and managed to unite in their training to a good part of the small Catalan liberal bourgeoisie. But their big failure was the lacking sufficient political vocation to exercise the leadership of the party, so it ceded the Presidency to Lluhi. When the was founded the Unió Federal Nacionalista Republicana (UFNR), Jaume Carner was instrumental in that it chose as President to Pere Coromines, while Jaume Carner served as the Vice President of the party.

Looking to the legislative elections of may of the year 1914, the UFNR signed, in March of that same year, with the Republican Party of Alejandro Lerroux, the so-called Covenant of Sant Gervasi. The party presided over by Coromines was going through a period of alarming crisis with a deep internal split between two positions or different trends which was undermining the unity of the party: on the one hand, the sector liberal and intellectual, and on the other hand, a sector worker and socializing. Neither managed to win the favour of the masses, so it was decided as a final solution Alliance with the radical Republicans of Lerroux. The Pact was badly received by voters and the party's own leadership, prompting a political setback in the elections in the month of may: of twenty candidates, only seven were elected. The immediate consequence of failure was Carner and Coromines party out as directly responsible of the Pact with the lerrouxistas.

Although Jaume Carner continued playing a political role as an MEP by El Vendrell, he devoted most of his time to his lawyer activity and various industrial and financial business of the family.

In 1931, with the proclamation of the second Spanish Republic, French Macia commissioned him the difficult task of regulating and organizing the new structure of the Generalitat of Catalonia, as well as joining and chairing the Committee responsible for drawing up and approving the Statute of autonomy of Catalonia. In the constituent courts of the Republic, he was elected Deputy for Tarragona, within the ranks of Esquerra Republicana per Catalunya (ERC). In December of the same year, Manuel Azaña appointed him Minister of finance, the Republican government, who had to leave in June of the year 1933, by a serious illness (cancer) that ended his life.

It was during their stay in the Ministry where Jaume Carner showed their worth and efficiency in management, so greater affection won by its President, Manuel Azaña. December 23 year 1932, passed the law of Personal income, its most valuable and important policy action. Public finances inherited from the times of the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, as well as the impressive economic recession worldwide, seriously threatened the stability of the Republican government. Jaume Carner had the courage to decide a drastic but necessary reform in the Spanish tax system. Introduced the figure of the personal income tax, which established various percentages of payment depending on the personal income of each taxpayer: 1% for those who win up to a total of 100,000 pesetas a year, and a progressive increase, with a cap set at 7.7% for those whose income exceeded one million pesetas. Although the measure had no great incidence on fundraising effects, yes managed to significantly reduce budget deficits of the years 1932 and 1933, time in which he was in charge of the Ministry, managing to stabilize the peseta. Despotism, oligarchy and the bungling were deeply immersed in the base of the State and the society of Spain, as to achieve a reform tax fair and even-handed in so little time. Large fortunes continued to elude their fiscal responsibilities.


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