Monday, February 22, 2016

The Constipated Government

There's a nasty obstruction in the bowels of Balearic political power. It cannot be shifted. Hard as it might be tried, no laxative can eliminate it. This obstruction is the government itself, its dietary habit of chewing over things around and around with their resultant disappearance up the collective governmental backside, having compacted movement into all but permanent blockage.

It was Jaume Font who spoke of constipation. The El Pi leader observed that the government has been constipated from the outset, unable to act in any decisive fashion because the real government - Podemos - has remained loose on its diet of political prunes: loose and firing cannon from the outside. Splat! Things can get and are messy.

Yet Podemos, for all that it can be said that the party benefits from loose stool, suffers from great dungheaps of anal retentiveness. Stubbornness, a need for control, obsession with detail, they all collide with the desperate attempts of the constipated government to exert its own control; the meal that has provoked all this excretory awkwardness having been the indigestible tourist tax.

This tax, says the Podemos Boot Girl, Laura Camargo, is a "symbol" of the government of change, this being the government of which her party isn't a member. But the "accords for change", to which Podemos is a signatory, are supposed to herald a new era of dialogue. On each issue there is dialogue, and at the end of the process, such dialogue can be said to have been shown to work. So long as Podemos gets its way. Laura is convinced that one day soon the tourist tax will truly be green. Dialogue is a one-way street where Podemos is concerned.

Somehow, and no one can say for sure, purposes for the tax totally divorced from any tourism application managed to slip into the general ranting emanating from the Boot Girl. Apparently, the late-night pow-wow to save the tax raised the prospect of revenue going towards the government's guaranteed social income scheme, and it was the government which proposed this. Oh no it didn't, came the reply, with the Més minister for social matters as livid as other members of Més: relations between Podemos and Més appear to have all but broken down. So much for accords for change. Had Laura just been stirring it, then? Possibly so, but she was stirring it into a green, eco-friendly, biodegradable pulp.

Why, one might ask, was all this not sorted out in those happy, smily days before Biel Barceló disappeared and when he and sweet and friendly Francina could announce that the tax draft had been approved? One reason why is that Podemos isn't in the government. Even it doesn't actually draft legislation. Yet. Another reason, one suspects, was that Podemos, because of the "symbolic" nature of the tax, was always destined to enter into a bloody great scrap over it, and that's because it wanted to. The symbolism of the tax is that it is a testbed. If Podemos fails with its ambitions for the tax, then whither the whole project with PSOE and Més?

Laura said that having a fight (over the tax) was not the way, when it is she who engages in fights and could start one in an empty room. It is what she does; hence the nickname. "We were screaming like we were kids in primary school," an unidentified Podemos source said of that late-night meeting. Yep, sounds about right. Biel Barceló, the slowly evaporating tourism minister, made a brief reappearance to say that the important thing was to succeed, that they (the government) were a little surprised by the Podemos stance (which was an understatement) and that the citizens would not understand if advances of the government were to be thwarted. In fact, one suspects that the citizens would know full well why advances might be thwarted. They voted for it after all: the constipated government.

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