Saturday, May 27, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 27 May 2017

Morning high (7.17am): 17.1C
Forecast high: 27C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 28 May - Sun, cloud, 27C; 29 May - Sun, cloud, 27C; 30 May - Sun, cloud, 26C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East 2 to 4.

More of the same: July temps in May.

The Incoherence Of Rentals' Control

It can appear somewhat contrary that leading hoteliers and left-wing politicians can share the same platform and, in principle, agree with each other. Such has been the result of the holiday rentals' dynamic. Two warring factions have joined forces, albeit they have become allies for different motives. The hoteliers have always had an issue with rentals because of perceived unfair competition and a lowering of standards (discuss), while the left have started to agonise over saturation and resident populations being deprived of places to live.

Exceltur, the alliance for touristic excellence, is an exclusive club. Among its members are leading hoteliers, such as Meliá. It carries a certain amount of clout. Names like Escarrer have the ears of the nation's politicians. And it was the national government which received a unified message from hoteliers and mayors when they gathered in Madrid for their forum this week. The state is the only body which can control the situation: this situation being the proliferation of rentals and the activities of Airbnb and its kind.

José Hila, Palma's mayor who is president of the federation of municipalities and provinces, underlined this message by saying that it is the state which can stand firm against these websites. The state, however, and Matilde Asián, the tourism secretary-of-state pointed this out, cannot establish a single set of regulations. The responsibilities lie with the regional governments and, up to a point, with town halls as well.

Madrid, at least while the Partido Popular remains in control of the government, seems disinclined to involve itself with market regulation. Devolved responsibilities to the regions there are, but these responsibilities produce legislation which, in the absence of umbrella state legislation, bring the regions into conflict with an arm of the national government, the competition commission. Its ultra market liberalism has been rearing its head again this week. The commission's defence of a property owner's rights has meant clashes with the governments in the Canaries and Galicia. When the Balearic government finally publishes its legislation, you can be sure that the commission will be examining the small print in great detail.

The consequence of the state's lack of involvement is legal uncertainty, something which all parties seek. A further consequence is that regional authorities can be undermined if the commission (and the courts) challenge their legislation. The Madrid government, meanwhile, will know full well that anything it might introduce would be booted upstairs to Brussels. The European Commission is lumbering towards some form of directive, though how this can possibly take into account the diversity of needs down to very local levels is impossible to understand.

Meanwhile, though, the Balearic Tax Agency and tourism ministry have been enforcing what legal powers they possess. A campaign of inspections that was carried out prior to Easter has netted eight real-estate companies in Mallorca. The fines for promoting illegal rentals will amount to some 200,000 euros. These companies are based in Palma, Arta, Capdepera, Colonia Sant Jordi and Pollensa.

Back at the Exceltur gathering, at which not all the mayors, it might be noted, were from left-wing parties, there was some consensus that there is scope for growth from rentals. Palma and Barcelona, not represented at the meeting, seem exceptions to the potential for growth rule, but for cities such as Malaga, Valencia and San Sebastian, the issues are those of diversification of the accommodation offer and of its control. It is the latter which is the key issue, but so also is enduring legal certainty. The PP in the Balearics have this week made it clear that when it returns to government - it seems confident that it will in 2019 - it will repeal the holiday rentals' legislation that Biel Barceló will shortly introduce. 

As with the incoherence caused by the state's lack of involvement, so there is incoherence at regional level. Politics change and so also do policies.

Friday, May 26, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 26 May 2017

Morning high (7.33am): 16.5C
Forecast high: 26C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 27 May - Sun, cloud, 28C; 28 May - Sun, cloud, 27C; 29 May - Sun, cloud, 26C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 2 to 3.

Another rocking day. Sun all the way.

Evening update (20.15): High of 29.9C.

Size Doesn't Matter: Protests

How much sand, do you suppose, is there in the Sahara? It's not that, following yesterday's piece, I have made sand the theme of the moment, it's just that it has become the subject of protest. Saharan sand has been imported to Mallorca, several thousand tonnes of it, and there are some people who object.

It's why one asks how much sand there actually is in the whole of the desert. Don't reply that there's lots, because I think we can all figure that out for ourselves. I have asked Mr. Google, who hasn't proved to be terribly helpful. Someone has calculated that there are eight octillion grains of sand, but I'm afraid eight octillion doesn't register - not with me anyway - and more to the point this doesn't give tonnage. If someone else can come up with an average weight for a grain of sand and multiply it by eight octillion, then I guess we have the answer. Or possibly not.

One would suppose that shifting some tonnes of sand and depositing them somewhere else wouldn't make a great deal of difference to the overall Saharan sand volume. There again, if everyone was doing this, the sand would eventually disappear. On balance, therefore, it probably isn't such a sensible idea. Moreover, the protesters, the friends of the Saharan people, say that the sand is being stolen; the desert is being plundered. There is perhaps something a tad objectionable to someone else's sand being acquired when Mallorca has a fair amount of it as it is. This said, if a crane with a scooping device rocked up on Es Trenc beach, there'd be hell to pay.

The sand, as such, isn't what concerns me here. It is the protest that does. Some fifty odd people turned out at the dockside in Palma to express their anger. Among them were some usual suspect politicians - the environment minister and Més and Podemos sorts from the town hall. The coverage and attention given to a) the shipping of the sand and b) its unloading and the protest have elevated the affair to the status of a cause célèbre; at least where some are concerned. But other than the protesters, how many people in Mallorca do you suppose are particularly bothered? The answer is as impossible or as vague as with the question about how much sand there is in the Sahara, except that it would be the opposite. Not many, one would guess, as opposed to lots.

Protests, always allowing for the permission that is given for them or not, obviously vary in terms of scale. The largest ever staged in Mallorca was the one against the Bauzá government's trilingual (TIL) teaching project. It was a subject in which the whole island had an interest and on which it had an opinion. Education, one can conclude, is of greater importance than sand. The coverage given to that particular protest was entirely proportionate. The coverage for the sand import seems disproportionate, based on the strength of feeling.

Which isn't to say that the protest was invalid. Even a small protest can raise awareness that would otherwise not exist, so I fully defend its purpose. The issue is, though, that protests, and the publicity given to them, can over-exaggerate the cause and also the amount of support that there is for a cause.

There was a different type of protest in Palma last weekend. This one involved around 200 people. Dressed as tourists, they were protesting against so-called tourist colonialism and in particular the increasing number of apartments that are used for holiday rental purposes. This attracted a fair amount of coverage as well, but was this coverage disproportionate given the numbers?

In one respect it wasn't. That's because the whole issue of holiday rentals has genuinely become a cause célèbre. But how representative of attitudes was the protest? A small number of people have the power to blow something up out of all proportion. There were plenty of reactions to the protest which suggested just that. On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence which indicates how much concern there is about the impact of holiday rentals, and it certainly isn't confined to politicians. There may have only been 200, but the groundswell of support, you can be certain, is a great deal stronger.

It was interesting to note that a similar protest last September didn't register with the established media. An anti-tourist route was followed, but there was barely a mention of it. It's not as if "saturation" wasn't a major issue last summer, but since then there has been a constant bombardment. It never lets up.

The scale of a protest doesn't in itself give an accurate reflection of how widespread (or not) attitudes are. The TIL one probably did. In reverse, the Sahara sand protest may also have been fairly accurate. The 200 in Palma? I don't think so.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 25 May 2017

Morning high (7.40am): 15.9C
Forecast high: 28C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 26 May - Sun, 25C; 27 May - Sun, cloud, 28C; 28 May - Sun, cloud, 27C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North 2 to 4.

Yep. Perfect.

Evening update (20.00): High of 31.7C.

Sand In Your Shoes

I wonder if Dido still has sand in her shoes. It's some fourteen years since she informed us that she did. Two weeks away and the whole world should have changed, she intoned, adding that she would leave it until tomorrow to unpack. Like so many before and since, Dido was unable to accept her return to normality. Like so many before and since, she had returned home with part of the beach.

Around the same time as Dido was lamenting her lost fortnight, I came across a sign on a beach (Playa de Muro's rustic Es Comú, if you must know), which very kindly asked its visitors to not leave with the beach. In other words, it noted that the sand was valuable and could one ensure that as little of it as possible (if any) was taken with one on leaving.

At the time, I found this sign ever so slightly absurd. Does anyone willingly leave a beach with sand? There is, after all, all that vigorous shaking of towels, etc. that goes on. Yet it is impossible to leave without sand. Is one supposed to add some form of mobile hoover to all the other paraphernalia that makes its way onto the beach in order to vacuum up the sand and then deposit in a nice recycled heap? One might do, but one can also be sure that, having completed this task, the northeasterly will blow and cover the towel with yet more sand.

The last thing anyone wants to take away from a beach is sand. It is extraordinarily annoying and, as Dido discovered, it can linger well beyond the check-in at departures. So, while signs can remind us all of the necessity not to take it away and inadvertently affect endangered biodiversity (or whatever), it's reasonable to suggest that these signs are somewhat redundant.

There again, they do act as reminders of the importance of sand while letting visitors know that the sand isn't theirs. It's our (Mallorca's) sand, and Mallorca is where it should stay, preferably on the beach. A problem is, though, that there are all manner of people other than your normal beachgoers who are getting in on the beach act and then disappearing with sand. More than that, they are taking the beach over, staking it out, treating it as though it were theirs, when it most certainly is not.

A couple of days ago, I drew attention to the fact that one cannot trespass on certain beaches for reasons to do with heightened environmental sensitivity or with the possibility of being shot by the military. Such limitations are fortunately few and far between. Beaches are freely available, and so is the sand. A pleasant sandy cove. Where could be better than to have a wedding?

One is tempted to think that this is all the fault of the Benidorm TV series. There they all were on the beach. The riff-raff tourists (and residents) had clearly been ushered away. Madge and Mel were there to be married and would have properly tied the knot had The Oracle not crash-landed on Mel. Ever since, beaches of whatever type and wherever have become the locations à la mode for uttering the I do's (or their equivalents).

Über-environmentalists Terraferida, for whom I do have some time, have returned to social media with their latest tourist "massification" production. A wedding on a beach at a cove near Colonia Sant Jordi has got them into their latest lather. Now, without knowing the intimate details of the wedding arrangements, I'm nevertheless guessing that there wasn't a great phalanx of security keeping the riff-raff away. I'm also guessing that it wasn't at a time of day when the beach might possibly have been packed ("massified") by other tourists, having away with the sand. I'm also supposing that there was nothing to stop the wedding having been held, because Terraferida have pretty much said this. The Costas Authority, they insist, shouldn't be giving generalised permission for such an event, which comes as news to me as I had thought express permission was needed. Didn't James Blunt get into a bit of bother over his wedding reception on a beach?

Anyway, permission or not, what was the big deal? As far as Terraferida were concerned, the wedding was representative of the takeover of beaches. Moreover, it was organised by a foreign company (apparently). And, not that Terraferida specifically stated this, once the wedding was finished, all the guests plus happy couple would have been legging it with valuable sand. The beach had been massified, it had been ecologically endangered, and foreigners, to boot, were to blame.

Terraferida do make valuable contributions. I often agree with them, but they run the risk of alienating those who might otherwise be sympathetic by potentially trivialising their cause. Sand, it is safe to say, gets in your shoes.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 24 May 2017

Morning high (7.30am): 14.7C
Forecast high: 26C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 25 May - Sun, 28C; 26 May - Sun, 27C; 27 May - Sun, cloud, 26C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North 2 to 3.

Lovely morning. Lovely day to come.

Evening update (20.15): High of 29.6C.

All At Sea: PSOE

So, 231 days after resigning as the general secretary of the party, Pedro Sánchez swept back to power with a landslide victory. He is PSOE's Theresa May (as will no doubt be), though whether he proves to be anything more than a Corbyn will be discovered. One thing is for sure - possibly, perhaps even probably - is that Pedro will take a Jezza jump to the left. That's why he was elected. Wasn't it?

Actually, it wasn't as much of a landslide as Thezza can anticipate in Referendum Mark II, but land slid sufficiently from beneath Susana Díaz that she was hurled backwards from Madrid all the way to her Andalusian homeland and landed with a bump, together with the bruising of only having gained 39.94% of the vote (pity about the 0.6%; round numbers are so much more satisfying).

Pedro won the day with 50.21%. The other candidate, Patxi López, came nowhere, except in his native Basque Country. Once the recipient of the dubious backing of Francina Armengol, even that evaporated as the Balearic president sensed the direction in which the tide was flowing. It was dragging Patxi well offshore. He duly drowned in the depths of the more than 133,000 combined votes for Pedro and Susana. His own tally? 14,571, most of them marked Basque.

An odd thing to note is that Pedro won in every region of Spain except for two - Susana's Andalusia and Patxi's Basque Country. It is odd insofar as Susana got as close as she did: some 15,000 votes fewer. It is less odd when you appreciate that PSOE militants are heavily weighted way down south. Andalusia is socialist land and always has been since democracy arrived in Spain.

One needs to explain that the militants are not necessarily militants of a Derek Hatton type. It's the word the Spanish use for members. And it is, I would suggest, important to understand that, of the nearly 75,000 who voted for Pedro, only a certain (and small) percentage might truly fall into the category of rabid left-wingers. Yes, there was discontent with the cosying up to the Partido Popular, i.e having enabled Rajoy's last-minute investiture in October, but that doesn't mean that all those thousands are like-minded descendants of the nineteenth-century founder of PSOE, the original Pablo Iglesias. The current-day Pablo Iglesias of Podemos might be considered a more appropriate descendant.

It is true that the rank and file felt that they had been sold out. Sánchez got a drubbing at the federal committee and had no option but to stand down. The issue was whether or not to break the electoral impasse and facilitate Rajoy's passage back to the premiership. Sánchez lost. The militants have now had their revenge. Moreover, they have ensured that they will not be delivered into the hands of Diazistas and the Andalusian socialist mafia.

She had former premiers on her side, but the support of González and Zapatero counted for too little in the face of that discontent. For many, once a socialist (even a moderate one), always a socialist: deals with the PP don't comply with this legacy. And deals with Díaz don't comply with how many of the militants feel. Take those in Catalonia, for instance. Recently, I wrote about the longstanding animosity between the two regions (which owes only something to politics). It was there for all to see in the Catalonia vote: 82% for Sánchez, 11% for Díaz. Crushing, one might say.

For Francina in the Balearics, having thrown Patxi overboard and clambered on board the good ship Pedro, 71% of the Balearic vote in his favour will enable her to express solidarity with the militant citizenship of Balearic PSOE. Her good judgement (opportunism) in abandoning Patxi might yet lead her to national government. In her dreams. But with Pedro's win, we return to the uncharted territory in which Spain has been adrift since the end of 2015 and the first of the inconclusive elections. Is another election looming?

Podemos, i.e. Pablo Iglesias, would prefer that there wasn't an election. Preparing to present a vote of no confidence in Rajoy, Iglesias is also preparing to ask Congress that he should be invested as prime minister. He really knows how to stir the pot and how also to try and grasp power at a time when electorally Podemos appear to have plateaued and may only have one future way to go. Sánchez will be cajoled by the likes of Francina into a pact for "progressive" government, citing how good the relationship with Podemos in the Balearics has been. At which point, any sensible observer will burst out laughing.

Pedro, though, will not himself be laughing. He was unpersuaded by Iglesias before. Why should he be any different now, especially if a grasp on the premiership were to be denied him? The good ship Pedro has set sail again, but PSOE remain all at sea.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 23 May 2017

Morning high (7.39am): 17C
Forecast high: 24C; UV: 7
Three-day forecast: 24 May - Sun, cloud, 26C; 25 May - Sun, 27C; 26 May - Sun, 25C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East 3 occasionally 4.

Another bright and fine morning, the birds are singing and someone's out there struggling to start his scooter ...

Evening update (20.45): A lovely day, a high of 26.6C, but darkness hung over it. Appalling.

No Trespassing On The Coast

It was the early 1960s. Summer holidays. We'd grown bored hunting for newts and waiting to see the London train rattle along the viaduct that crossed the dusty lane that led to the estate. To pass under the bridge was to enter enemy territory. We lived on an estate, but it wasn't like the other estate. That was council; ours was pretentious posh. The lane petered out into an even dustier narrow track that bordered part of the estate. To the other side was scrub, waste and field. There was a sign in black lettering: "No Trespassing".

Such an order was of little deterrence. We had already mastered the art of trespassing in the dark and mysterious copse with its pond that was as deep as Australia. A gate of greater height than we were served only to be a challenge. A warning of no trespassing carried an assumption of hidden dangers and horrors. The field with its long grass next to the estate, we convinced ourselves, was full of snakes. We climbed another gate. There were no snakes.

Nowadays, and as responsible citizens, no trespassing would mean precisely that. But there are those who have never lost their inner small child. Provide a warning, and the warning will be ignored. Indeed, the very existence of a warning elevates the forbidden territory to a status of seemingly very much greater importance than it might otherwise deserve. However, there is a principle at stake. The right of access, especially if it involves the sea.

The coast is the public domain. When superyacht occupants invade a stretch of beach in Cabrera, they are accused of "privatising" it. Not that they did (this was last summer), but installing luxury tents and what have you amounted, in the eyes of some, to a privatisation. When hotel groups (one in particular) appear destined to dominate beach of a Calvia and beach club variety, this is also privatisation, even if it is not. The coast is free. Unfettered access to it reinforces the unshakeable relationship with the "playa", the playground for all.

Cala Castell in Pollensa is accessible from the sea. It can't, strictly speaking, be accessed from the land, except for special reasons; these mainly being scientific. The cove lies at the end of the finca of Ternelles, and the access to the finca has been a matter of controversy for years.

There was once, during the administration of Francesc Antich from 2007 to 2011, a mass trespass. Famous photos are regularly reused to highlight the Ternelles case, and they show ramblers clambering over the gate to the finca. The reasons for access being denied are twofold. One has to do with protection zones in the Tramuntana region. The finca has such a zone; it encompasses the cove and the ancient Castell del Rei. Balearic law may lead to these zones being removed, thus allowing rambling in areas deemed significant as natural habitats.

The other reason is ownership. The finca belongs ultimately to the March family, the Banca March, March family, the descendants of Joan March. When the mass trespassers, including notable eco-nationalist politicians, smilingly climbed the gate, there was at least some feeling that they were doing so as a gesture against the legacy of the old rogue, March. Gleeful disobedience of no trespass betrayed no fear of hidden dangers: the finca, the estate, was being confronted. How many of those trespassers had an account with Banca March one didn't know.

The legal arguments continue. They are batted back and forth between upper courts. The Supreme Court in Madrid once took the view that there should be right of access precisely because of the coast. The public domain of Cala Castell was being denied. The arguments, though, have been far more complex than just that. They still are.

Had there never been any denial of access, how popular would the ramble across the finca be? One asks the question because Ternelles has acquired its reputation principally because of the "verboten" nature of access; there is access but in a highly controlled way. Is the principle more significant than any mass desire to go wandering over the land? And has this principle been elevated because of the ownership?

Move east along the coast from Cala Castell and you come to the headland that separates the bays of Pollensa and Alcudia. On its tip is Cap Pinar. It isn't even accessible by sea. It's a military zone. There have been arguments about access here as well, but they have never been in the Ternelles league. There is, like Ternelles, the possibility of limited and controlled access. But Alcudia's mayor, Toni Mir, says that since he took office in 2015 there hasn't been a single request.

Why the difference? There are no snakes in Ternelles, but there is greater temptation and challenge. The black lettering is that much bigger and so is the gate.

Monday, May 22, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 22 May 2017

Morning high (7.38am): 18.9C
Forecast high: 24C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 23 May - Cloud, sun, 25C; 24 May - Sun, 26C; 25 May - Sun, 28C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East 2 to 4.

Well, so much for the forecast having suggested it would be cloudy today. Doesn't look like it, certainly not first thing.

Evening update (19.45): High of 26.7C. Cloud did come in but was only light. Plenty of sunny spells.

Who Knows Los Javaloyas?

Well, I put the question to you. Do you know who Los Javaloyas were/are? If not, then I can tell you that they have existed since 1952, they being a pop group who now occasionally get wheeled out (more or less literally) to perform at the odd fiesta. They are, despite the fact that you probably won't have heard of them, pretty famous.

Originally from Valencia, they came to Mallorca in time for the tourism boom. Their heyday was in the 1960s, when they were one of the numerous pop acts which conformed with the sanitised version of pop that the regime was prepared to tolerate. As such, and like other groups, their oeuvre was a mix of Spanish tunes and British/American covers, such as Hippy Hippy Shake and Barbara Ann, while an EP, Buenas Vibraciones, mysteriously included Spencer Davis covers as well as The Beach Boys. There was also the Los Javaloyas Vamos a San Francisco, taken from the Flowerpot Men.

Anyway, it would seem that in Palma town hall there is no one who has ever heard of them. This is the conclusion being drawn from the fact they have had a street named after them but a highly inconsequential street - a short, dead-end street stuck between two schools. Representatives of Mallorca's musical fraternity are mightily offended. Los Javaloyas deserve much more.

But who makes decisions on this at the town hall? Is it soon-to-be-mayor Antoni Noguera, in charge of urban planning? Perhaps he could find them a better street and rename the one they've been given calle José Hila.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 May 2017

Morning high (7.50am): 12.9C
Forecast high: 24C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 22 May - Cloud, 24C; 23 May - Sun, 24C; 24 May - Sun, 26C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East 2 to 4.

Smashing morning. Clear skies and fresh. Cloudy by the evening and due to be cloudy tomorrow.

Evening update (19.15): High of 26.6C.

Xe-Lo And Montse Denounce Parliament

The office of the president (aka speaker) of the Balearic parliament is - decor-wise - much in keeping with the interior of houses inhabited by ancient Mallorcans. There is, therefore, an enormous amount of wood. Wood panelling, wood flooring, crafted wooden chairs, wooden coffee table and a very wooden desk. The principal concession to modernity is the three-piece with silken yellowish finishing that matches the curtains and what small areas of the walls aren't wood. The other concession is the occupant of the office, Balti.

Given his former life as some form of metalworker, one might have anticipated Balti having performed a metallic refit; even a Metallica one. Out with wood, in with aluminium. Or, in a more traditional (Mallorcan) style, in with some bits of old wrought iron that had been rusting in a shed in Binissalem and which can now be restored by artisan apprentices on youth guarantee schemes, paid for by the vast surplus that parliament turns in, and held up as examples of economic diversification and as a means of tackling tourism seasonality. (All types of alternative employment, you may have noticed, address seasonality.)

Not so long ago, the Balearic government was said to be eyeing up the cash that is sitting in parliament's bank accounts. In other words, the government wanted it. Assuming that the accounts haven't been raided or that finance minister Catalina Cladera hasn't been banging on the glass-pane wooden door to the office and handing in a demand for several million euros, President Balti will have a bit spare to kit out some other offices.

As there are some offices - one, in particular - which need a makeover, surely Balti could get in his new (secondhand) Kangoo and nip down to Ikea for some furniture. He must also, you would think, know the odd artisan office renovation chappy who could be hired, albeit that the process for doing so - in order to prevent any accusations of favouring a mate - would entail a public tender (put out for thirty days of public consultation) and verification by the numerous Podemos citizen councils.

So, getting things done, as in getting new offices sorted out, probably does take some time. Might this, therefore, be the explanation for the discontent being shown by two members of parliament - two former members of Podemos members of parliament?

Xe-Lo, who not so long ago could rattle around the vast presidential suite, and her chum Montse are clearly getting ever more brassed off with their ostracisation. The two fully paid-up members of the Not-Podemos-But-Would-Still-Like-To-Be Party have taken considerable umbrage at the state of their office, if only they had one.

There is apparently a room available, but parliament technicians have told Xe-Lo and Montse that it is barely big enough to swing a cat (not that anyone from Podemos either present or past would do such a thing) let alone accommodate the substantial forms of both themselves (plus two lucky staff), a couple of tables, four chairs and a closet. These same technicians say that the room is not appropriate for working. This being the case and also that Xe-Lo and Montse are having to store vital documents in boxes, they've issued a denuncia against the parliament's board. Off it has gone to the employment ministry's work inspectorate, while they have also raised the matter with parliament's health and safety committee and the occupational hazard prevention officer.

This is clearly an outrage. Here we have a government which espouses dignified working conditions and yet two members of the house are presumably having to make do with sitting on a corridor floor. Obviously things have got so bad that they can't even just have a word in the shell-like of the employment minister, Iago Nicaragua (or whatever it is). He was himself, after all, once a work inspector.

Balti, meanwhile, appears not to have made any comment on this sorry state of affairs. In the spirit of being all-inclusive (in a citizens' style as opposed to a hotel), he must be able find space for Xe-Lo and Montse in his office. And with all that wood acting as soundproofing, no one would ever hear ... .