Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Two Per Cent Government

I was right. Not that being right was difficult. What are one hundred days for, if not to make an assessment of how they have gone? If you are a government, that is. Back in July I said that the Spanish Sunday newspapers would be rating the one hundred days come October. What I got wrong was the weekend. I'd calculated next Sunday. I was out by a week, but it was an easy mistake to have made. When actually did the government become the government? The question is pertinent. No one was entirely sure, and that was because no one was entirely sure what the government was. When did it start? Who was it? Why was it? None of these questions have been adequately answered. One hundred days of uncertainty.

After a week of government - two weeks as it now turns out - I offered my analysis of the first one hundred days of the Armengol administration. There's nothing like getting your evaluation in early, and it was one with unclouded thoughts and so simple to formulate. Tourist tax. Ding! TIL. Ding! Law of symbols. Ding! Uncertainties caused by land policies. Ding! Chaos because of the three-headed monstrous nature of the government. Ding! Ding! Ding!

Not everything could have been predicted, such as policies turning over 60% of the health service workforce against the government. Not because of the brouhaha over the health minister's hubby but because of pay. New government, new government of the left, same as the old government of the right. Tight-fisted.

Ah, but the government isn't tight-fisted. Just that the fists and hands are tied. When all else fails, blame Madrid. And before anything had been started, from which failure could be plucked from the jaws of unlikely victory, Madrid was being fingered for all that was to follow and will continue on day 101, whenever that actually is.

The narrative began with the launch of the one hundred days. It was a story in two parts. One was that of a government destined to fail, or to at least be incapable of delivering all it is desiring until the white knight Pedro Sanchez of PSOE comes to its aid by putting Rajoy to the sword in December. The other was of a government destined to succeed because it was the crusader for new-age politics. Separate though these stories are, they are combined, and in the depths of the Consolat de Mar, there was someone working away feverishly in writing this joined-up narrative. Or one suspects so.

Marc Pons, the government spokesperson, communicator-in-chief, may be the one responsible. Is there a government WhatsApp group that is being reminded constantly of the commandments of the narrative? Madrid, deficit, state financing, the Bauzá debt legacy, consensus, dialogue. Whatever announcement a minister or government official makes, it has to include all these. Arrange them in the appropriate order, include the relevant reference, and off you go. The tourist tax, for example. All the consequence of Madrid, the deficit, the lack of financing, the need to pay off Bauzá's debt legacy, but one that will win out through consensus and dialogue with, among others, the hoteliers and even tourists. As if.  

The one hundred days commenced with the government fully aware of its in-built failure mechanism, one designed to attempt to create a Balearic-wide siege mentality which is the result of victimisation by Madrid. The "citizens", another of the commandments, were being penalised, as they have been for so long. The government was standing up for their rights, knowing full well that Madrid was not for bending or that Madrid would yield a fraction as it, i.e. the Partido Popular, desperately attempted to appear to be more human ahead of the general election. But not on the deficit.

If there were to be a score nailed to the door of the Consolat de Mar, one to rate the government's one hundredth day, what would it be? Nought point three would be an appropriate one. President Armengol carries the 0.3% deficit ceiling for 2016 with her, poised at any moment to cite it. Everything comes down to 0.3.

But this is an unsatisfactory rating. We need a round number, and so, as convenience would have it, we can reach two. To the 0.3% deficit, we can add Biel Barceló's mysterious 1.7% of the cost of the tourist tax. Bingo! Two per cent. The two per cent government. Two but not three, because there is one missing.

Did PSOE and Més really know what they were letting themselves in for? They may have had little choice, but it is evident that they just don't get it with Podemos: a government partner that isn't in government. Three in the marriage, and one doesn't wish to consummate it.

The government's greatest achievement is that it has survived one hundred days.

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