Friday, May 03, 2013

Do The Bauzá Re-shuffle

When you are a president of some islands in the Mediterranean where the general public has become brassed off by - 1. your government's hashing of policy in respect of language, both for schools' education and for public sector jobs; 2. your government's savage and deeply unpopular cuts to these public sector jobs and to public sector services; 3. your government's ham-fisted attempts to introduce improvised taxes that masquerade as ones that will save the environment - what, as president do you do? Indeed, what as president do you do, despite having been a president who has supported and approved all these measures? The answer is, of course, that rather than sack yourself, you sack the three ministers responsible.

José Ramón Bauzá has conducted his re-shuffle, one that has been well heralded and one which, to no one's surprise, finds that the hapless education and culture minister/government spokesperson, Rafael Bosch, has been given the boot. We all knew this would happen, so it is no surprise now that Bosch has gone. More of a surprise is the fact that Simón Gornes, the minister for public administration, and Josep Aguiló, the vice-president and minister for the job lot of the economy, business, competitiveness and finance, have also got the chop. Or maybe it isn't a surprise, when you consider that Bauzá appears to have taken the knife to cabinet ministers who have been overseeing the most controversial of his policies. As Bauzá slow fades away in any event, awaiting the day when the Balearics High Court might accept that he should step down because of alleged incompatibility with his business affairs, or the day when he loses the next election, or the day when his party decides to conduct a putsch and get rid of him, he is desperately trying to cling onto support and popularity by doing away with the devils whose names have been attached to the unpopular measures.

One of the more brazen pieces of propaganda to arise because of the re-shuffle is that Bauzá is saying that the so-called green taxes (for car hire, commercial retail centres and some food/drinks containers) may well be re-considered. By so doing, he gives a clear impression of placing the blame for these taxes at Aguiló's door. I'm not sure the public will see it this way. If he is implying that he, the president, hadn't agreed with these taxes, then he is being economic with the truth.

The most sensible aspect of this re-shuffle - and it didn't require Aguilo's dismissal as such - is that the former vice-president's mega-ministry is being split in two. Hallelujah. I take no credit for having pointed this out on several occasions, but a minister who, on the one hand, was charged with reducing the islands' deficit and so getting their finances in order and who, on the other hand, was meant to be boosting employment and business, was bound to suffer from conflicting priorities. As deficit reduction has been policy requirement numero uno, then the rest - jobs, for example - could go hang. It never made sense for one minister to hold such joint responsibilities. Now, at least, some common sense is prevailing.

Of the new kids on the cabinet block, we can now look forward to what Joana María Camps can make of education. She is a former director-general of work and labour health in the government and she is also an estate agent. As such therefore, she sounds eminently qualified to run education. Or not.

Her appointment, along with two other women, will be welcomed by those who were alarmed by the lack of women in the Bauzá cabinet, especially once the first health minister resigned and reduced the cabinet to an all-male preserve. Welcomed yes, but it smacks of politicking. Just as getting rid of three ministers who have presided over unpopular policy is a manoeuvre to boost fading presidential support, so bringing three women into the cabinet is as well.

Will this re-shuffle make a scrap of difference? Not to the fortunes of the Balearics one fancies, but it may do to Bauzá personally. But it is a re-shuffle that is almost brazen in its transparency. It should be seen for what it is: an act of opportunism by a desperate president.

Any comments to please.

No comments: