Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thus Spake Zarathustra - The downfall of Mother Munar

Maria Antònia Munar, matriarch of the Unió Mallorquina party and of Mallorcan politics, has finally quit her post as speaker of the Balearics parliament. Her role in the so-called "caso maquillaje" (make-up) and the corruption allegations levelled at her have - belatedly - claimed her. She is accused, along with former tourism minister Miquel Nadal, of using an audiovisual company, Video U, to divert a quarter of a million euros of public funds for the purpose of financing the UM's electoral campaigns. Her position had become untenable. The new code of politician ethics that had been introduced was meant to have led to resignations while investigations were ongoing. Munar had chosen to ignore this, until Friday.

While the case has still to be fully brought to court, the knives have already been sharpened. One does have to wonder as to what impact the press might have on any trial. So far there have only been declarations in front of the judge, though Munar has chosen her right to keep silent. Meanwhile, the outstanding "Diario" journalist, Matías Vallés, has - not for the first time - ripped a reputation to shreds. In yesterday's paper, he headlined a piece about Munar thus: "The most hated woman in Mallorca's history". Headlined it thus, and then thus spake Zarathustra. Vallés quotes Munar from a previous time, when she governed in Mallorca alongside the discredited and under-investigation ex-president Jaume Matas of the Partido Popular. At that time she told her party that there was going to be "no-one accused of corruption". With this, Vallés brands her Zarathustra. Nietzsche took the mythical character and made him "the first immoralist". Perhaps Munar considered herself an "Übermensch".

Vallés refers to Munar's lack of principles and to her relationship with Nadal. "Her beloved dolphin" is how he describes the ex-minister and Munar's anointed successor as party leader. He had previously called Nadal "ineffable". In a twist to the saga, Nadal and three directors of Video U have protested their innocence and sought to finger Munar, a delicious story of Munar handing Nadal 300 grand in readies while in the official car of the president of the Council of Mallorca (which Munar once was) all adding to the sleaze.

The characterisation of Munar as a hated woman raises an issue in respect of women in Mallorcan politics, one that has resonance in wider Mallorcan society. Vallés also refers to Munar as Lady Diada, and one has to go back a bit to understand quite what he means; there is form when it comes to Vallés and Munar. The Diada name can just as easily be Lady MacBeth - feminine compassion supplanted by ambition and ruthlessness. Generalisations are always to be treated with care, but Munar's style and demeanour are not unusual among Mallorcan women of a certain standing. It is in the Mallorcan character to exhibit a sense of superiority in any event, and for some women this can become aloofness that borders on the contemptuous. And to this can be added power lust and self-promotion. Vallés repeated yesterday some of what he said about Munar in December 2007. He mentions a magazine, paid for by the Council of Mallorca, which featured 87 photos of Munar on 83 pages. In another magazine, "Brisas", published by the Diario's competitor, the Serra group ("Ultima Hora" and "The Bulletin"), its VIP section was once full of photos of Munar in her finery. One couldn't turn a page without her staring out at you. But she is not unique.

The German neighbours the other day raised what at first seemed a strange point, followed by a question. On Sundays, they had noticed women who wear furs, wandering around with noses firmly raised in the air. What was their standing, they asked. Initially I didn't understand, until I remembered that in Germany status tends to be defined, not by class as it might be in Britain, but by profession, whether the husband's or the woman's. Talk to Germans, and their small talk is often littered with the adjective "beruflich" (professional). It matters to them. There wasn't necessarily any such equivalent in Mallorca, I ventured. Just wealth. Or power. But they had identified a trait, one seemingly compatible with Munar. Aloof and contemptuous, not just of others - the Übermensch mentality perhaps, the triumphing by making enemies (as she has admitted) - but also of the rules. Munar has been brought down by alleged rule-bending and breaking and by a hubris that is symptomatic of a social stratum in Mallorca. Vallés has not necessarily made this point, but he has nevertheless given it potential currency. If you read the native, then I recommend you take a look at his article:

Any comments to please.

Index for February 2010

Architecture, housing - 26 February 2010
Association of British Companies Menorca - 1 February 2010
Banks - 20 February 2010, 22 February 2010
Bird-watching - 8 February 2010, 9 February 2010
Bleach - 14 February 2010
Car-hire prices - 11 February 2010
Carlos Delgado - 17 February 2010
Carnival - 11 February 2010
Caso maquillaje corruption - 28 February 2010
Catalan and politics of language - 17 February 2010
China Crisis in Pollensa - 19 February 2010
Cold weather and houses in Mallorca - 12 February 2010
Cycling tourists - 3 February 2010, 8 February 2010, 13 February 2010
Foreigners' office online residency system - 15 February 2010
Halifax Bank Puerto Pollensa to close - 20 February 2010
Hotels opening at Easter - 15 February 2010
Inestur corruption case (Operación Voltor) - 4 February 2010, 5 February 2010, 6 February 2010, 7 February 2010, 9 February 2010
Mallorca Tourist Board (Fomento del Turismo) - 1 February 2010, 22 February 2010
Maria Antònia Munar resignation - 28 February 2010
Mobiles in marketing - 14 February 2010
Muro golf course - 20 February 2010
Muro's former mayor disqualified - 5 February 2010
Palm beetle - 17 February 2010
Quality tourism, so-called - 27 February 2010
Real Mallorca - 5 February 2010, 24 February 2010
Religious education - 2 February 2010
Riskal closes - 10 February 2010
Ryanair - 23 February 2010
Satyricon restaurant, Alcúdia - 21 February 2010
Spain's worst companies - 25 February 2010
The Cranberries in Palma - 19 February 2010
Tourism season 2010 - 4 February 2010, 11 February 2010
Unió Mallorquina corruption charges - 6 February 2010, 7 February 2010, 9 February 2010, 28 February 2010
Water supplies - 18 February 2010
Weather in February - 16 February 2010
What's on information (Bulletin) - 22 February 2010

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