Monday, December 26, 2016

Deluded: José Ramón Bauzá

José Ramón Bauzá believes that the selection of the next full-time president of the Partido Popular in the Balearics will be a run-off between himself and the long-time favourite for the post, Biel Company. The delay in holding a regional congress - its date has still to be decided - has been caused by the national situation. There should have been a congress following the general election in December last year; it was placed on hold because of the inconclusive outcome of that election and the second one in June.

The delay has led to Bauzá's attempt to return. Had there been a congress at the start of this year, he wouldn't have been in the frame to be restored as party president and as, he will wish, president of the Balearics.

The temporary leadership of the PP is wanting there to be a single candidate for selection. Acting president Miquel Vidal and others hope that this will lead to party unity, which may be a forlorn hope but would at least paper over the divisions. If there is more than one, especially if Bauzá features, the schisms will be laid bare. There'll be blood on the carpet. Bauzá has made it clear that he isn't looking for rapprochement with Company.

The former environment and agriculture minister ticks a number of boxes where the PP rank and file out in the sticks are concerned. Originally from the rural town of Sant Joan, his background is agriculture; he was brought in as minister by Bauzá, even though he wasn't at the time a PP member. In addition to this appeal to rural parts, Company represents something of the old style of the PP, one more in tune with regional identity and not openly antagonistic towards Catalan.

Bauzá represents the opposite, and his recent announcements show how the divisions in the party are also geographical. He says that he has the backing of the Palma membership. He may well not, but the very fact of him having referred to this just serves to highlight how attitudes differ between the city and the "part forana"; the latter is generally in sympathy with the old style than is the former.

Moreover, there is the figure of José María Rodríguez, who somewhat unexpectedly turned up at a Bauzá gathering. It is understood that he is lending Bauzá support, but he - it shouldn't be forgotten - was ousted from his position as president of the PP organisation in Palma because of corruption allegations. With friends like him and Carlos Delgado, widely disliked within the PP, Bauzá's selection chances would seem lessened.

Were he to be selected, assuming that he does go ahead and present himself, it would be a major shock. Bauzá maintains that he has support in Mallorca, the Balearics and in Madrid among the national leadership, but there is more than a hint of wishful thinking. He has little backing in Madrid, where he has been overlooked for any meaningful contribution in his role as a Balearic senator because there is little faith in him or like. In Mallorca, his status has been summed up by the new mayor of Petra, former health minister Marti Sansaloni: Bauzá has lost all credibility.

Sansaloni, like Company, owed his ministerial role to Bauzá. He was the third health minister in the Bauzá regime, brought in as something of a yes-man but later one of Bauzá's fiercest critics, as was Company. These two were instrumental in ensuring that Bauzá resigned as party leader after the disastrous election in 2015.

That election disaster was in no small part due to the trilingual teaching (TIL) fiasco and to Bauzá's policies regarding Catalan (TIL was one of these policies). Bauzá says that he would reintroduce TIL and once more make Catalan a "merit" for public employment rather than a requisite, which is how the current government views Catalan. He would therefore return to precisely the policies that made him so disliked and so ultimately unelectable.

Of reaction to Bauzá's intentions, it has been notable (among those commenting on websites/social media) that there isn't hostility to the principle of TIL. There needn't have been when Bauzá made it policy. But because it was a political instrument targeted at Catalan - educationally, the implementation sucked big time - the hostility was inevitable. He says that he has learned from his mistakes. Has he? It doesn't sound like it.

A further Bauzá intention has raised considerable opposition. He says that he would do away with the tourist tax. One wouldn't rule out the PP doing so whoever its leader might be, but judging from reaction there is popular support for the tax. Electorally, a pledge to get rid of it might not be wise.

Will he stand as president? He seems determined to. Will he win? He's deluding himself in believing that he will.

No comments: