Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mallorca's Political Radio Times

My guess would be that there is a fair amount of schadenfreude knocking around at Carlos Delgado's expense. The Balearics tourism minister is not universally liked,  and those who have taken a dislike to him (which will include some members of his party, the Partido Popular) will probably be taking a certain delight in his latest predicament.

Previous Delgado embarrassments have really only been embarrassments - the appointment of his girlfriend to a well-paid job in the ministry and the deer's testicles incident. This one isn't so much embarrassing as potentially serious.

Last week, Guardia Civil officers raided Calvià town hall. Acting on a complaint from the PSOE socialist party, they took away documents related to contracts for the town's radio station. The legal complaint now presented to a judge implicates Delgado when he was mayor of Calvià, the current mayor, Manu Onieva, the former head of press relations at the town hall and the two people who were running the radio station between 2005 and 2011. The complaint accuses these five of crimes of fraud, corruption, abuse of public office and the misappropriation of public funds. What it boils down to is the fact that the appointments for the management of the radio station were made without a public tender having been offered and without the contracts being advertised. The value of the contracts amounted to over one million euros.

This is an odd case, as it isn't new. For example, during Delgado's time as mayor, there was an investigation at the end of which a judge declared that, though there had been defects with the tender process, there had been no indication of any illegality. Delgado insists that the awarding of contracts were in line with the law on such contracts in the public sector. The previous decision by a judge may have suggested that they weren't totally in accordance with the law, but a further legal decision, one made last October, dismissed another complaint made by the PSOE party in Calvià.

The PSOE representatives say that it was their duty and responsibility to make a new complaint. There may be new evidence that points to wrongdoing - that's something for the police, the prosecutors and the judge - but otherwise, why has this complaint come up again?

When the raid on the town hall occurred, the secretary-general of the PP in the Balearics, Miguel Ramis, alluded to a sense in which the PP was being picked on. He was clear in respecting that the law had to be followed and that the agents of the law were doing as they should, but this was not the first time that a member of the PP had suggested that the party was being singled out. It may be a touch of paranoia, while it should be said that the PP is far from having been singled out, but I can understand Ramis's point. Of course, there may be very good grounds for the latest investigation, but I am not alone in feeling uneasy at the way in which the political process becomes mired in legal complaints.

Let's be clear. There have been and may well still be very legitimate reasons for lodging such complaints, but when one political party in effect initiates legal proceedings against another, or against individuals in another party, are there not grounds for feeling that the legal system is being used for political advantage?

It was certainly the case that the PP and the old Unió Mallorquina felt that they were victims of such attempts of gaining advantage. But then previous complaints have been shown to have had substance. They also led, however, to the current president intimating that if evidence were found of wrongdoing by the previous PSOE administration in the Balearics, he would not hesitate in calling in the legal people. It smacked of tit for tat and it emphasised, yet again, that the political system is far from being one of any harmony. When the law is resorted to, it is not possible for there to be harmony.

The Calvià town hall raid may yet prove to be another example of a spectacular, one played out in the full glare of the media who seem to always be invited along, but which comes to very little. Or maybe it will prove otherwise. Either way, there is something less than satisfactory about this constant involvement of police, prosecutors and judges in the political process.

Any comments to please.

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