Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Gold Medals For Political Dross

It's awards time again. Forget The Brits, forget The Oscars. Forget James Corden, forget Seth MacFarlane. The night of the stars is tomorrow night. It is the annual ceremony for the Ramon Llull prizes and the Balearics Gold Medals. And who will be handing over the prizes? It will be that scheming political baron, J.R. Bauzá.

Opponents of Bauzá are unimpressed by the choice of presenter. They would prefer a nice Bobby Ewing-type character rather than the manipulative J.R. He is not qualified to hand over the prizes because, inter alia, he "is politically disqualified", says PSOE socialist spokesperson Vicenç Thomas. Disqualified? When did this happen?

Thomas has been banging on about Bauzá having "intentionally lied to the citizenship" of the Balearics (all to do with his business affairs of course) and about J.R. having "committed the same errors as Urdangarin in having forgotten to declare a part of his assets and activities". The president may have committed an error (his party apologists concede this), but it is hardly in the same ball park or league as the sports-event organising Duke of Palma. (And it might be noted that Urdangarin hasn't actually been found guilty of anything yet, much though the impression might be given that he has, and nor has Bauzá.)

The opposition is naturally making hay thanks to Bauzá's slight difficulties, but it is coming out with real old dross in the process. Thomas has reproached the government for being a spectator to the "grave tourist crisis" connected to Iberia and Orizonia. Firstly, I am not sure that there is a grave tourist crisis, and what exactly has Thomas expected the regional government to do about Iberia? Or Orizonia? Its troubles are squarely ones of its own making - an unsustainable level of debt attributable to the original leveraged buyout from Iberostar and to a wild growth strategy.

But in politics there always is rubbish to be spouted, and Bauzá's own party have been responding in kind, putting forward its favourite lonely goatherd, Mabel Cabrer, she who once characterised the whole of Santa Margalida's citizenship as being violent. Mabel's latest nonsense has it that Bauzá is "the most transparent politician in the history of the Balearics". Of course he is. You can see right through him.

The level of political argument and debate that takes place in public in the Balearics, i.e. in the islands' parliament, can be awe-inspiringly amateurish and petty. It reminds me of the days of student union meetings but without the constant references to Marxist dialectics. If Thomas had wanted to make a legitimate point about Bauzá's qualifications to hand over prizes, he might have drawn attention not to any possible incompatibility arising from the president's business affairs but to an incompatibility related to the regional government's attitude to Ramon Llull and to the Ramon Llull Institute. Its decision to withdraw from the institute's network was transparently (sic) a political one and not one based on cost, as the government has maintained - a matter of not seeing eye to eye with Catalanists, in other words.

Thomas could also make more of Bauzá's apparent indifference towards regional autonomy. The prizes coincide with Balearics Day on 1 March, the celebration of this autonomy and one that is thirty years old. Rather than hammering this point home, Thomas has merely drawn attention to the Bauzá administration "despising" the islands' councils, e.g. the Council of Mallorca. It's a pretty weak argument, as there are any number of people who aren't politicians who aren't exactly great fans of the Council. But regardless of whatever Bauzá's attitude might be, his friends in national government are, via the reform of local government, bolstering the roles of the islands' councils and not diminishing them.

As to the prizes themselves, they have their own small controversy. Echoes of the 2011 Sports Personality of the Year awards, there are no women who will need to make an acceptance speech. No women for the second year running. Bauzá has a phobia when it comes to women, says Més socialist Fina Santiago. "The government despises the contributions of women to society," she insists. Which sounds a tad harsh and also sounds as though as Fina and Thomas have been collaborating when it comes to the despise word. In fact, she isn't right, as there is a gold medal for Marilén Pol, albeit a posthumous award for the former president of the Mallorcan hoteliers federation. But then, politicians don't always say the right things, do they.

Any comments to please.

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