Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Philology And Tourism: Bel Busquets

Being intimately knowledgeable of the detail of a portfolio isn't necessarily a pre-requisite for a ministerial appointment. But it can help, as can demonstrable competence for even having been considered for the appointment.

The rules of the "new politics" have thrust into the limelight those whose qualifications for ministerial office are shaky, to say the least; non-existent might also be a way of describing them. The new politics aren't always at play, though. The Partido Popular in the Balearics is representative of the old school, one that has done quite well at keeping its friends in the private sector contented. The new politics eschew such cosiness. New faces are thus presented, and they are representative of greater democracy. Why should ministerial posts, why should government be the preserve of the old and established guard?

All true perhaps. But there is always a but. The old politics can make questionable promotions, just as the new politics can. For both, it is a matter of dogmatic continuity, or in the case of the PP it was the necessity for dogma to reign supreme. President Bauzá sacked Rafael Bosch as education minister. Bosch's crime was that he knew too much. Education was his specialism. He had doubts about a zealous anti-Catalanism. Dogma ruled, and he had to go.

In his place came Joana Maria Camps, an estate agent by background. She was Bauzá's mouthpiece, but unfortunately what came out just helped to make her appointment seem ever the more bizarre. Poor Joana, one felt sorry for her. She tripped up, none more so than when she managed to use the Catalan verb to tread on to mean the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) survey. Parliamentary deputies were in fits of laughter. Catalan had intruded in a way that Catalan should not have. Such, one might suggest, can be a drawback with Catalan philology (the study of language); however odd this was, given the anti-Catalanism of the time.

Bauzá eventually saw sense and replaced her with Nuria Riera, a generally accomplished and experienced politician who did at least attempt to build the destroyed bridges with the teaching fraternity. It was too late, though.

Balearics tourism has had the occasional individual with intimate knowledge at a ministerial level. Jaume Cladera has been the clearest example. Biel Barceló was not intimate. Forget the name, he is not from the hotel group's family. But he did, as he once explained, have some experience of tourism, though he never offered any detail. Perhaps he had once been a hotel entertainer. Who can say?

He was at least experienced, if not as a minister then as someone who had been on the political stage for several years. If Més were to have a tourism minister, which they were always going to have, then it may as well have been Biel. Other candidates were in any event in short supply, if at all.

Biel is part of the new politics, the new democracy of challenging the old guard, and he has now given way to Bel Busquets. Bel is the new tourism minister. The industry, especially that which isn't based in the Balearics, will be asking who the Balearics have managed to serve up this time. Tourism ministers; there have been a few, too many to mention.

The headline of an article in the Spanish media more or less summed up this appointment: "A philologist fronting Balearic tourism." Bel is a qualified Catalan philologist. She has been a school teacher. She is now the minister of tourism. And the only reasons that she is have to do with Més dogma and with the intrigues of the Balearic government. She will carry on the good Més work at tourism, even if she has no real idea what it entails. She will be presented to the tourism industry because Més wouldn't allow any other outcome. Joana Camps revisited, but wearing a pan-Catalanist, eco-nationalist frock.

Regarding the appointment of Busquets, I asked someone - where do they find these people? At the bottom of the pyramid came the response. Barrel might have been an alternative. It's not that I wish her ill; quite the contrary. But how can it be that the Balearics most important industry is placed in the hands of someone who on the face of it is not equipped for the post? Well, I think we know why. Dogma, power games within the government and the sudden opportunities offered by the new politics.

How PSOE must really wish that there was a return to the old way. It was manifestly obvious that President Armengol didn't want Busquets. At her swearing-in there was a distinct frostiness of body language. But PSOE just have to lump it and hope that Busquets heeds Armengol's words about positive dialogue with the industry. At least with Barceló he did appreciate there is a certain "realpolitik" in dealing with the hoteliers. Will Bel?

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