The election year has begun. In less than twelve months Majorcan voters will have to decide once again who they want to run their local town councils, the island councils and the Balearic government. People who follow the Spanish local politics will find that the press is already showing that all is not well in courts of Spain (instead of King George) where there are many unholy pacts to keep mayors and autonomous presidents in power. Different parties are already marking their territory, putting a little, or a lot of distance between their policy line and that of their partners. You can see that happening already on Majorca.

Members of the European Union who are resident here, and that is a term which is used very loosely, are entitled to vote in local town council elections, and also to be voted if they form part of a closed list of candidates for one party or another. The looseness of the term resident referred to is because that last time, in 1999, a resident was not only a person who had an official residency card, but someone who had managed to be on the town hall census through ownership or rental of a property, even though Majorca is not the permanent place of abode. From being on the census, those people were then able to be included in the electoral roll, which has not been opened yet for the next elections.

But back to the argument. Immigrants beware is my recommendation this week. Maria Antonia Munar, the president of the Majorcan Council let the cat out of the bag or set the cat amongst the pigeons, whichever metaphor you prefer, in her speech on the Day of Majorca last week. She pronounced publicly that Majorca would be better off if there were more control on the entry by immigrants.

She has let the cat out of the bag by showing so soon her opinions, and presumably those of her party, Union Mallorquina, which has very few seats in the Balearic parliament but which has acquired great power in Majorca due to the astute bargaining power of MAM (like Ma'am). She has set the cat amongst the pigeons because she has publicly set herself apart from the other members of the left Progress Pact who are her party's partners in the current Balearic Government and who profess a much freer and open policy on immigrants. Even the right opposition party has protested about her comments.

But who are the immigrants? It could first be thought that MAM was referring to only those people from non European Union countries who mostly come here to work, particularly from the MAGREB countries, and here she was not risking losing any possible future voters with her comments.

But after the first pronouncement, apparently she was asked if she meant that and the answer came back that immigrants are all those who come from outside to live on the island, indicating people who do not accept the local customs, who continue to form individual ghettos, who do not integrate, who endanger the Majorcan traditions, making Majorcans lose their historical identity, and more or less overcrowding an island that she thinks is reaching its limit of occupation anyway.

My first thought was that Maria Antonia Munar would have a rather difficult task of limiting the entry of people from the EU who are supposed to have freedom of circulation and as far as I know, neither the Majorcan Council nor the Balearic Government have control of the Oficina de Extranjeros and therefore residence permits. My second reaction was to compare MAM to that controversial British politician, Enoch Powell but at least she has not thought up a plan to try and repatriate the present immigrants. YET!

Anne Kay