Fiesta time rolls around once more and so, therefore, do the fiesta elections. There are two key by-elections held each summer in northern Mallorca. One is to choose the angelic La Beata to parade along the streets of Santa Margalida and thumb her nose at the temptations of the devil, the other is an altogether bigger affair as there are that many more positions up for grabs - the Moors and Christians bundle in Pollensa on 2 August.
If anyone fancies getting himself put up, he had better get a move on. The chief returning officer, or whoever presides over the election and maintains good order, expects names by 21 June. But I'm afraid that the election isn't open to all-comers. If you don't live in Pollensa, if you don't speak Catalan (at least for one of the positions) and if you are younger than either 27 or 35 (depending on position), then you can forget it.
The various positions that are up for grabs, as they are each year, are those of the local hero, Joan Mas (Christians party), Dragut, Lloctinent and Abanderat (Moors party) and the four members of the old town hall (presumably also Christians party, though given Pollensa town hall's traditional chaos, they could be almost any party).
The position everyone really wants is Joan Mas. The chance to portray the saviour of Pollensa and to actually win the great battle (the result is a bit of a fix, as everyone knows who's going to win) is more attractive than being the perennial loser, as is the case with Dragut. To make his position even less attractive, he of course isn't a Christian, he gets referred to as a pirate (which he may well have been, but then so also, where the Spanish are concerned, was Francis Drake) and he doesn't appear to be required to speak Catalan. Which, to be honest, as a good Muslim boy from Bodrum in Turkey, he shouldn't be.
The Catalan stipulation would seem to only apply to Joan Mas. Not even the old town hall chaps are expected to speak it, which will no doubt be something well received in Partido Popular circles, those in which the Balearics president moves. Catalan has, as we all know, in theory been removed as a requirement for employment in the public sector, but this doesn't apply to local heroes from the sixteenth century. Joan Mas can parlar away in Catalan to his heart's content. Which is as well, because the "Joan" is expected to deliver the great request for heavenly assistance against the pirates, and it would be distinctly odd if he were to do it in Spanish.
When the original Moors and Christians match-up occurred back in 1550, poor old Dragut wouldn't have had much idea what Joan's "Pollencins, alçauvos, els moros són aquí; mare de Déu dels Ángels protegiu-nos" yell was all about. Or would he? Lloctinent might have told him, as Lloctinent wasn't a Moor. He was a dirty, rotten, stinking traitor. Joan Xumet was his name; Lloctinent means lieutenant, his nickname. Whoever gets to play Lloctinent nowadays pulls the really short straw.
There is, though, one aspect about the elections which doesn't play well with a modern society. There are no women. The role of Joan really ought to be thrown open to both sexes, perhaps to a woman with the name of Joan. As for the Moors, well, you wouldn't expect there to be any women, but a town hall that is male-dominated? It sounds like Bauzá's regional government cabinet before he cottoned on to the need to get some females in to attract the feminine vote at the next election.
There again, political correctness plays a minimal role in the Moors and Christians. In fact, it plays no role whatsoever. Were it to, and doubtless this would be the case in some countries, it would have been banned by now. Or if not banned, then at least the Moors should be allowed to win now and then. There has to be a fear that one of these days a mad radical cell linked to Al-Qaeda is going to turn up at 7pm on the second of August brandishing real swords and not the toy wooden ones. Not that this would get them very far, because someone would point out that they hadn't been elected and, moreover, that they might well not be resident in Pollensa, might well be younger than 27 and hadn't got their nominations in by 21 June.
It's good to know that rules of elections still count for something.
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