Monday, September 29, 2014

Is Instability The Norm For Balearic Government?

Jaume Matas, much though he has become reviled, was not an unpopular president of the Balearics. He was also a president whose second administration between 2003 and 2007 was marked by its stability. He enjoyed having a parliamentary majority, and his cabinet remained virtually unaltered throughout the whole administration. There were only two changes - to the agriculture and fisheries and work and training portfolios. Whatever instability the administration had came after it had finished: ex-ministers implicated in wrongdoing or now banged up.

The administration that succeeded Matas's was that of the "pact". Francesc Antich of PSOE headed a hotch-potch coalition government that relied on the support of the Unió Mallorquina (UM) and the Bloc (what is more or less now the Més grouping of PSM Mallorcan socialists, greens and what have you). This unholy mish-mash seemed destined to be anything but stable, and as things turned out it was highly unstable, but not because they couldn't all work together. The reason for the instability was the UM faction and it caused there to be four tourism ministers during the administration. The first, Francesc Buils, resigned because of a squabble within his own party and not the government. The second, Miguel Nadal, had to go when he was implicated in corruption investigations. The third, Miguel Ferrer, was in the post for barely a month when the investigations became so intense that Antich booted the UM out of the coalition. Ferrer was cast adrift as was Miguel Grimalt at environment.

If you look back at the different administrations since the first regional government was formed in 1983, you will find that the first two administrations were very stable. The third was less so, and the reason why was a clash between the PP and UM coalition partners and the president, Cañellas, and Maria Munar in particular. Munar was dismissed, but the administration carried on in reasonable shape despite this crisis. The government of 1995 to 1999 was peculiar in that Cañellas, implicated in the Sóller Tunnel case, was forced to resign after only a month. His successor, Cristófol Soler, was president for less than a year, and had to go because he was a bit too Catalanist for others in what was a PP majority government. Apart from this internal wrangle, it was a stable enough administration under Matas. The first Antich pact, 1999-2003, had its squabbles but it remained calm enough. The occupiers of portfolios such as tourism, education, health, finance, environment did not change.

So, as you consider the seven administrations before the current one, the picture is one that might be thought normal. Reshuffles or changes are common practice in governments anywhere. There have been some clear cases of abnormality in the Balearics, most obviously because of the UM during 2007 and 2011, but the overall pattern cannot be said to be one of a history of instability; it has been the opposite for the most part.

But then we come to the current administration. Bauzá, like Matas, has had a parliamentary majority, but unlike Matas he has failed spectacularly in using this majority and maintaining stability. Because of events last week, this is an administration which can boast having thus far had (and there are still some months for this disaster area of a government to go) three health ministers, three education ministers, two tourism ministers, two finance ministers, three public administration ministers. Are there any more? Possibly, but we've lost track.

This is an administration of such dysfunction that serious questions have to be asked as to why; indeed questions are being asked within the PP as well as by others. How is that Bauzá has presided over such a calamitous administration when he had the same electoral benefits as Matas?

There is no one reason alone, but when one looks for reasons they all point to one thing, or rather one person: José Ramón Bauzá. Everyone surely accepts that he faced a mountain to climb because of the economy which he inherited, but it has been in other areas that the instability has arisen and the discontent allowed to fester. Above all else, Bauzá became something that the PP didn't think it had selected. Bauzá was not Carlos Delgado, which was why he became leader. He was not an anti-regionalist, anti-Catalanist, aloof fanatic. Or so the party thought. And as his administration has lurched from crisis to crisis, he has wanted to be puppet-master, installing the likes of Joana Camps, and thus making the crisis ever worse. Thank God he has had the sense to appoint Nuria Riera to education, a diplomatic and sympathetic face who might just save him. But it won't save him from what will be his legacy: the most unstable of all the Balearic governments.

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