Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What Former Mayors Do Next

What does a mayor do when he or she is no longer mayor? Much depends on why the tenure finishes. In more extreme cases, a mayor ends up in jail, if particular naughtiness has been engaged in: Andratx with Eugenio Hidalgo is an example. A mayor may also move up the political food chain, either by design or by accident.

José Ramón Bauzá used his Marratxi mayoral credentials to launch himself on a largely unsuspecting Partido Popular and Balearic society and become the islands' president. Alternatively, the mayor's job is retained while pursuing higher things. Astonishing though it may seem, but Maria Munar was mayor of Costitx all the time she was minister for education and then president of the Council of Mallorca. It's safe to assume that she is not planning a return to Costitx town hall.

Miquel Ferrer, an Alcudia mayor for some years, was an accidental beneficiary of promotion. While Munar's Unió Mallorquina was crumbling under the mounting mountain of corruption evidence, he resigned as mayor in order to become tourism minister. It was almost a case of last man standing, i.e. a senior figure in the party who wasn't banged up or en route to being so. Alas for Miquel his ministerial tenure was brief, and he hasn't been seen in town hall circles ever since he and the remaining members of the UM were ejected from the Antich "pact" of government.

Otherwise, unless because of retirement or the offer of something better, a mayor ceases to be mayor because of election defeat. Does this mark the moment to move onto other things? Sometimes but certainly not always. The ranks of town halls' councillors are littered with ex-mayors, biding their time for the next election and their return to once more wield the mayoral wand: the PP's Rafel Torres in Inca is a case in point. There are, therefore, former mayors in a state of constant rotation and on the comeback trail. One election comes along, out they go; the next one, and in they step again.

But there is a further reason why a mayor is no longer, and this is the consequence of the "pact". It doesn't happen in all instances by any means. There are plenty of town hall coalitions at present which don't envisage any mid-term mayoral change, but there are some. Where Santa Margalida is concerned, for example, the handing-over has already occurred, a mere eighteen months into the four-year period. More logically it takes place after two years, which is what will happen in Palma.

José Hila will step down in June. After he does, what will he do? One would assume that he will remain a councillor and become one of the array of deputy mayors. But it isn't as simple as that. Whether he stays or whether he goes (and going would be because staying would represent something of a humiliation), does one anticipate his spending the remaining two years plotting his comeback as mayor in 2019? Almost certainly yes, but Palma doesn't operate like mostly any other municipality. There are higher authorities who have their input, say and decisions when it comes to candidates for mayor.

Palma is its own mini-government. This status is why the position of mayor is of such critical importance to the political parties. Prior to the last election there were all the machinations to ensure that Mateu Isern was unable to stand again for the PP. And with the next election some two years or so away, the jockeying for positions are already beginning, with PSOE manoeuvring towards the starter's tape.

In an apparent reversal of promotion upwards (to government), it is understood that President Armengol has her man lined up to be candidate - the employment, trade and industry minister Iago Negueruela. This wouldn't of course be like a demotion because of Palma's mini-government pretensions. It would be a plum job. But why Negueruela?

In addition to being from good (Galician) socialist stock, he has been something of a safe pair of hands at the ministry, capable of announcing a load of statistics and initiatives to combat labour fraud. He wasn't actually elected as one of the 59 parliamentary deputies, but a background in employment inspection was what landed him the appointment. None of this, though, is a good reason for him to be mayor. However, Armengol is determined to have her man for the simple reason that Hila wasn't her choice last time and there are still gaping wounds among PSOE in Palma because of the infighting that was the prelude to Hila's election.

Whether Negueruela, a "foreigner", would be the one to unite factions seems unlikely, so when it finally comes to the choice of candidates for 2019, Hila will have lined himself up for another go and for a comeback. The battle for Palma has already begun.

Index for January 2017

Airport policy - 11 January 2017
Associations: too many - 12 January 2017
Big Data and tourism - 27 January 2017
CIA files, Joan March and Nazis - 30 January 2017
Culture, tourist tax and top stories from 2016 - 1 January 2017
Floods, drought and olive ebola - 29 January 2017
GOB and tourism - 10 January 2017
Goigs and Sant Antoni - 14 January 2017
Holiday rentals - 6 January 2017, 16 January 2017, 21 January 2017, 25 January 2017
Hotels and virtual reality - 18 January 2017
Illustrious sons and daughters - 2 January 2017
Mariano Rajoy - 3 January 2017
Mayors and their comebacks - 31 January 2017
Ministers and travel - 26 January 2017
Musical theatre - 22 January 2017
News and repetitious messages - 20 January 2017
Podemos tensions - 8 January 2017, 15 January 2017, 17 January 2017, 23 January 2017
Sant Antoni and tourism - 5 January 2017
Sant Julià - 7 January 2017
Sant Sebastià - 24 January 2017
Satire: demons and Kings - 9 January 2017
Tourism promotion - 13 January 2017
Tourismphobia - 19 January 2017
Tourist tax - 4 January 2017, 28 January 2017

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