Wednesday, February 24, 2016

You Need A Més Of Help

It was at the time when The Beach Boys were on their way down. Occasional gems would still emerge but "You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone" wasn't one of them. Heavy beards had replaced the one-time surfer look, Carl might have passed for Lowell George of Little Feat, and there they were singing about a mess. I didn't know then as I still don't know now whether a mess of help is some sort of idiomatic expression or if it was just made up. Whatever its origin, the presumption was that one needed a good deal of help in order to stand alone, which in the case of The Beach Boys by 1972 meant almost totally without Brian and in a manner that had dispensed with the sunny disposition of sun-and-beach surferdom and had adopted a grizzled eco-evangelist beard-dom.

There's a metaphor here, trust me. One is the grizzled, bearded eco-evangelism of portly in a Carl Wilson-style Vicenç Vidal, the regional government's eco minister and member of the party of all things eco-righteous, Més. The wider metaphor is for Més as a party. It needs a mess of help to stand alone. Or appears to. With whom does it stand shoulder to shoulder? Do any of the parties of the so-called government pact demonstrate such solidarity? Or has it all fallen apart and they are just trying to keep up appearances?

It had once occurred to me that Més, being more to the left than PSOE, might have been some sort of mentoring facility for Podemos as it took its first innocent steps into the bear pit of the Balearic parliament. This has not been the case. Podemos has required no buddy system to assist it in its mission to out shout everyone and anyone else. It cares nought for unwritten protocols, smashing down doors with Jack Nicholson mad-eyed determination. One can have some admiration, even as the Podemos collective shouts "little pigs", taking an axe to the comfort of procedures formed over thirty or so years of Balearic parliamentary democracy. Admiration, but there's something terrifying as well. "Here's Johnny!"

How can this be, though? There are, after all, the accords for change, the agreements for government, the pact between PSOE, Més and Podemos. These accords are as may be. They can be quoted and cited but no one is now under any illusion that they are the axe blows in the hands of Podemos and only Podemos. While PSOE, in the form of Francina Armengol, tries to steer a gentle course of non-confrontation with Podemos, Més have had enough of the charade. They are standing alone because they are standing up and exposing the masquerade.

It is precisely that greater leftness which is, one suspects, at the heart of the fallout. There is only so much political territory that various parties can occupy simultaneously before they all start bitching with each other. And as I observed the other day, Podemos has even begun to cut fertile eco land from under Més by claiming the environmentalist agenda with the tourist tax.

It is understood that PSOE and Més have grown sick and tired of Podemos and are to seek "clarification" in order to try and end the crisis of mutual lack of confidence and salvage what might remain of the pact. But both parties should have known how things would be. If Podemos was not in the government but was outside and directing government, the recipe always existed for chaos. And so it is proving. It is Més, though, which can stomach the situation less, and it has been David Abril who has been the most vocal in attacking Podemos. As it isn't in government, it doesn't understand what it's like to have to govern day by day. For Podemos, everything is theoretical, observations from without and not practicalities from within.

The "communicative distance" that has grown between the government and Podemos, according to Alberto Jarabo, could also have been predicted. When there is one party, Podemos, so totally pissing off two others, the communication is bound to break down. Accords for change are irrelevant. One is dealing with human nature. When Johnny crashes his axe through the door, you lash out with a knife to his hand.

But above all, it was the result of the December general election that has shattered any illusion of harmony with the Balearic government pact. That result rendered Més irrelevant, while it ushered in the new most voted-for party of the left, i.e. Podemos. Emboldened by how it polled, Podemos has been shouting ever more loudly. Yet there is likely to be a twist. If Pedro Sánchez opts for Ciudadanos, the PSOE-Podemos relationship in the Balearics will be placed under ever greater strain. For Més, there will be barely any room left to stand alone. 

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