Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Two Years At A Time: Bauzá mid-term blues

It is only just over two years since José Ramón Bauzá became president of the Balearics and the Partido Popular swept to power (parties which enjoy large electoral wins always do sweep to power, so do please excuse the cliché). Just over two years on and so just under two years before we go through the whole electoral rigmarole again. And when we do, guess what? Bauzá may well be out of a job, if other matters haven't intervened in the meantime to require the issuing of the presidential P45.

The poll at the weekend for "Ultima Hora" suggests that the PP would lose six or seven parliamentary seats. This in itself wouldn't automatically mean it would lose power. It would still have more deputies than any other party, but it would lose its majority and be forced to find a coalition partner or partners in order to continue in power. Permutations that the PP might be able to cobble together would be far more straightforward than any that the main opposition PSOE could come up with. According to the poll, for it to be able to come back to power would require putting together a hotch-potch of such dog's breakfast proportions that any government it were to head would surely be unworkable.

So, it isn't all bad news for Joe Ray. The main problem he would have, however, would be persuading the more likely candidates in the centre to come into the governmental bed and nestle under the sheets with someone (i.e. him) who they might prefer not to be in the same bedroom as, let alone the same bed. It is said that there has been some kissing and making up between Bauzá and Jaume Font, leader of the regionalist El Pi, but behind every font there is a tap that might turn off the water, and in Font's case that is Antoni Pastor, now with his feet well under the El Pi table. Pastor, even at arm's distance, and Bauzá could only make imperfect bedfellows; it's hard to see Font spurning the shepherdly, pastoral love of the recently integrated-into-the-El Pi Pastor in favour of a dalliance with the wolf of the PP. Even less likely, unless it wanted to blow its still only shortlived political existence (in fact, its whole credibility) out of the water, would be an alliance with the UPyD. Bauzá may well, therefore, find himself caught short.

Indeed, were the poll to prove to be an accurate forecast of the 2015 election, the Balearics could find themselves to be politically unmanageable, though whether anyone would notice any difference might be unlikely. 

The slump in the PP's support has been inevitable. Popular by name it may be, but unpopular by policies it has become. Not that it had any real choice when it came to some of them. But it has had a choice with others. If it hadn't been going around putting up certain backs, like the Catalan lobby, it might just now find itself looking forward to holding onto a majority.

The government has got itself into a right old mess. One cause of this mess has been the health policy. Partly dictated by national government, the handling of the Alpha Pam affair was more than just an embarrassment. The health minister, Martí Sansaloni, may yet find himself facing some form of charge, if those groups who have been denouncing him have their way. To compound the problem raised by the treatment of immigrants without the right health-service credentials (or any credentials), Sansaloni's predecessor at the ministry (Sansaloni is of course the third health minister in just over two years) has been looking at establishing a help system for immigrants. He, Antoni Mesquida, is not alone in distancing himself from his party's policies and attitudes.

Then there has been the debacle with the green taxes. The government was forced into backing down. Threatened with the courts by the might of the retailers, it squirmed its way out by saying that now (i.e. this summer) was not the time for the taxes, which was complete nonsense. No time is the right time, while the debacle just added to the sense of ad-hockery that has surrounded tax policy since Bauzá became president. Another tax, that on petrol, which is supposed to be used to help fund the islands' health service, has, so says the head of a consumer association, been going to pay off debts and salaries of public officials.

On top of all this, there are problems rather closer to home for the president and for one notable member of his cabinet. We still await the findings of the Balearics High Court in respect of accusations of incompatibility between the president's business interests and his position as president. And now we have the tourism minister, Carlos Delgado, facing possible indictment in the Radio Calvia affair and the possibility of the national interior ministry taking a view on the insults he levelled against the Guardia Civil. He really should know better than to allude to a whoring, heavy-drinking, sexist, fascist, police film character when mentioning the Guardia in the same breath.

So, with all this, we now look forward to the elections in two years time. But if the poll does prove to be accurate and the Balearics become politically unmanageable, then no, we probably wouldn't notice any difference.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

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