Friday, November 17, 2017

The Curse Of The Balearic Tourism Ministry

Francesc Buils and Miquel Nadal. They were the tourism ministers during the 2007-2011 government who were sent to prison and who are currently still in prison. Things really aren't as bad as they were in those days of unfettered Unió Mallorquina (UM) corruption that wrote its name into the core of the ministry. But they are bad enough. To lose one director may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose a second just a few weeks later looks like the wheels are coming off.

Pere Muñoz, the director of the Balearic Tourism Agency, resigned because of his implication in the Més contracts affair. Pilar Carbonell, the tourism director-general, has now resigned because she is under investigation for alleged corruption related to Cursach Group businesses. The tourism minister, Biel Barceló, is said to be experiencing some bad luck. The bad luck is misfortune turning into ministerial meltdown. History is repeating itself at the ministry, even if the scale of the allegations is not as it was with the UM.

The bad luck might not even have arisen in the Carbonell case, if it hadn't been for the name Cursach. Once the press exposed her apparent willingness in having expedited proceedings for work at MegaPark in record time compared with the normal ministerial bureaucratic tardiness, her days were numbered. The police went looking, and the police suggest that she was a virtual Cursach employee. Bad luck, Pilar. Bad luck, Biel. The tentacles of Tolo Cursach reach out from his prison cell (he's back in Palma now) and they touch with poison anyone whose name is said in the same breath as the fallen King of the Night.

Barceló is hanging on. Just. A motion of censure brought by the Partido Popular and stemming from the contracts affair very nearly succeeded. The vote was a tie. The media enjoyed pointing out that Biel might have been censured had the PP's Álvaro Gijón been in the parliamentary house. What irony. Gijón, up to his neck in the Cursach case, symbolises the enduring reputation of PP corruption but was not there to deliver a fateful blow. It needs saying, however, that President Armengol was also absent. She was unwell. A full house and it would still have been a tie.

Carbonell has been replaced by Antoni Sansó, chief advisor to the tourism ministry. He has been photographed periodically with Barceló or Carbonell. A dour-looking, unsmiling sort of character, he was apparently the brains behind the holiday rentals legislation. Amidst this ministerial musical chairs, the only real thing to be said for Barceló is that opinion polls seem to give him local support for his stellar items of legislation - the rentals and the tourist tax. But as Més see their support in general ebb in other polls, this is unlikely to count for much. He and his party are in something of a crisis.

Barceló has said that he won't be staying on after the next election. He might in any event not have had any choice in the matter. But with his disappearance from the scene, Més are casting around for someone who can assume his figurehead role. And this isn't easy. Prime possibilities either don't want the job of running for president (Miquel Ensenyat at the Council of Mallorca wants to stay put), are needed elsewhere (Antoni Noguera in Palma) or are not products of the PSM Mallorca Socialist party.

Més, a left coalition, has prominent one-time members of the communist United Left. Social services minister Fina Santiago is one. Parliamentary spokesperson and principal advocate of independence for the Balearics, David Abril, is another. Santiago might be advanced as presidential candidate, but it would be with reluctance by the solid PSM faction. Quite how appealing she would be to the electorate is another matter. Not especially, one would fancy.

The party can just hope that Barceló keeps his head down for the remainder of this government and doesn't get his head chopped off. Podemos want him to go, but couldn't bring themselves to have voted with the PP on the censure motion. They will seize whatever chance comes along to force his resignation or dismissal. Such are the workings of this government and the power behind the throne that is Podemos.

Bad luck for Pilar, bad luck for Biel, bad luck for Més, which might go into electoral freefall. The bad luck was having charge of the tourism ministry. That bad luck has passed to many, such as those paying the tourist tax. Bad luck all round. It's the curse of the Balearic tourism ministry.

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