Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Conservative Alternative: Pastor and El Pi

Mallorca's politics are rarely dull and they are so because, for a place as small as Mallorca is, its politics are disproportionately large, the consequence of so many parties, factions, self-interests and not infrequent silliness. These politics have been given a new shot in the arm by the announcement that one of the more interesting political figures on the island, Antoni Pastor, has joined the El Pi party.

Pastor, you might need reminding, is the mayor of Manacor. He is a former member of the Partido Popular who was excommunicated by the PP papacy for daring to disagree with the party's orthodoxies, primarily those to do with less than positive attitudes towards Catalan and the concept of regionalism, i.e. autonomous regional government. El Pi is the party formed from the johnny-come-latelys of Mallorca's politics, La Lliga (in existence for only a year or so prior to its merger) and the Convergència, the renamed, the rebranded, the remade former Unió Mallorquina (UM), the source of so much corruption head shaking.

El Pi's lords and masters are Jaume Font, like Pastor a former member of the PP and also like Pastor not exactly a great friend of the Balearics president, José Ramón Bauzá, and Josep Melià, who became leader of the old UM during its last, painful dying days, mainly because there wasn't anyone left or anyone who wasn't facing a rap and an appointment with m'lud. To these lords and masters must now be added the name of Pastor. Together they are a troika of political alternativism, albeit an alternativism that is inherently conservative in a Mallorcan style.

This conservatism has compelled the troika to make clear that, despite the presence within its midst of two prominent ex-PPites, El Pi is not some spin-off from the PP. It differs in its attitudes towards regionalism and Catalan. It supports both, and the PP doesn't, or doesn't appear to.

Pastor's teaming up with Font and Melià is not a complete surprise. In terms of the regionalist and Catalanist philosophies, it makes sense. In the political wilderness and due to remain there during his four years of expulsion until after the next regional elections, Pastor had nowhere to go if he wanted to really make his voice heard on the tiny Mallorcan political stage, crammed to overflowing with politics and politicians.

Joining El Pi is not a statement of personal ambition, says Pastor. All he is doing is joining, even if he is to be a vice-president of the party (Font is its president) and even if he might, though this is being denied, be being lined up as a candidate for the Balearics presidency in 2015. There is surely some ambition.

With all the travails that President Bauzá is currently enduring, those that might find him having to resign because of the alleged incompatibility between his business affairs and his position, the post of leader of the PP may well come up in the not too distant future. It had occurred to me that Pastor might just be recalled from the wilderness to fill that post. Though of different opinions to Bauzá on regionalism and Catalan, Pastor's opinions would tend to be those shared by a majority of Mallorcans. They are opinions of a conservatism that has existed since autonomy in 1983; they are ones that the PP used to hold and are ones that its veteran members still do hold. 

It will not happen now, but Pastor as PP leader would, in my opinion, have given the PP a serious boost at the next elections. At present, it cannot guarantee that it will do as well as in 2011. It may even lose, though with the main PSOE opposition as toothless and leaderless as it is, this would be hard to imagine. With Pastor, it would have provided a more sympathetic face. That chance has now gone.

My guess would be that Pastor will be a presidential candidate. He is charismatic without being populist. His opposition to Bauzá has done him no harm. Quite the contrary. He has become something of a folk hero. The PP would of course diss him for having attempted to undermine Bauzá and for having been a traitor, but I doubt many would buy this. His problem though, and it is the problem for El Pi full stop, is that the "alternative" in Mallorcan politics has never been king but only ever kingmaker. The UM was the perpetual group of Nick Cleggs, forever the makeweights in coalition. A similar role would probably await Pastor and El Pi. An alternative it may be, but it is only an alternative of conservatism.

Any comments to please.

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