Thursday, April 07, 2011

Every Day People: Mallorca-ism

Politicians always say the right things. Or try to. Ahead of elections, they try particularly hard. They also have a tendency to repeat what has been said before. María Salom, the Partido Popular's candidate for the presidency of the Council of Mallorca, is no exception.

"I wish that Mallorca could live from tourism 365 days a year." Amen to that. We all wish the same thing. Incumbents of various political posts have wished the same thing in the past, and will doubtless continue to do so. They, and we, can wish all manner of things. Like Roy Wood and wishing every day were Christmas, so we might wish tourism brought Christmas gifts every day of the year. Sadly, it doesn't.

Salom is ticking the right boxes. She has even suggested the creation of "fiesta routes", such as for Sant Antoni in January. It's not a novel idea, as it has been suggested on many occasions, not least by myself. But for it to be given a political airing verges on that rarest of political attributes, some creative thinking.

Unfortunately for María Salom, she might not have much influence on a 365-days-a-year tourism. It seems to have escaped her attention that her own party, quite rightly, has said that it will do away with a tourism department at the Council. It's unnecessary when there is already one along the corridors of the regional government. Ditto, of course, much of what has been grabbed as an irrelevant duplication of responsibility by the island's Council. She herself has pretty much set out a blueprint for trimming the Council. It seems strange, therefore, that she should pronounce on something that is not hers to pronounce on.

Yet, it isn't all that strange when you consider what else she has been saying. The dream, the wishful thinking of every day being a tourism day, is purely political froth. As also are her declarations in favour of preserving the countryside and of defending "Mallorca-ism". It is just possible that she personally believes all this, but her party has shown little evidence that it does.

Or possibly she has been put up to fire a shot across the ambitious bows of would-be tourism minister, Carlos Delgado, who has made it clear enough in the past that he would give tourism needs priority over those of land and environment. Equally possible is that she has been allocated the role of portraying a cuddly, feminine face of the PP and of encroaching upon the virgin, untouched land of the island's left wing along with its own avowed Mallorca-ism, the dual domains of the government's current environment minister, the Mallorcan socialists' Gabriel Vicens.

It doesn't really wash, though. As sure as it was that when Vicens clambered aboard the environmental horse and cart and sought to kill off developments such as the Muro golf course, so the PP, newly restored to office, will take to its fleet of gas-guzzlers and flatten the finca. If they don't, it will be a surprise and a reversal of a reputation as the life and soul of the 19th hole and the eighteen before it.

The right and left of the island are poles apart. Vicens once committed an act of "disobedience" by being one of those who went off for a trek along the camí (way) of Ternelles in Pollensa when he shouldn't have done. In his other capacity as transport minister, you can be pretty certain that he hadn't gone on a reccy to eye up the way as the site of a new motorway. Had it been a PP politician, he or she wouldn't of course have been disobedient but instead would have been on the phone to place the purchase order for the tarmac.

It is this polarity that underpins the upcoming elections. While the diversions of corruption and the pressing need for economic growth will be two of the battlegrounds, it is the philosophical differences in terms of what Mallorca should be that are at the heart of the elections. They can be nuanced as a type of quasi-Luddite romanticism on the left and an industrial pragmatism on the right.

Campaigning for the elections is not meant to be occurring at present. The official date for the start of campaigning is 6 May, but it isn't stopping the unofficial hustings taking place. Hence María Salom's pronouncement and indeed the words of other politicians.

The Mallorca-ism to which Salom refers may, for a PP population, sound like an attempt at mollification of the more left-inclined who have been alarmed by some of the strident noises coming out of the party, but it is a central theme of what these elections are about; indeed what they should be about. As for tourism 365 days a year, where does this fit in with Mallorca-ism? There are some who, and I leave it to you to decide who, would rather this were never the case.

Any comments to please.

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