José Hila, likely to stand again as mayor of Palma. | Jaume Morey

José Hila is expected to be confirmed shortly as PSOE's candidate for mayor at the Palma municipal election in May next year. He has been mayor since 2019 and was previously the mayor between 2015 and 2017. An agreement with one of the two other parties of coalition, Més, meant that the post of mayor was shared over the period of that first administration, and so Antoni Noguera, currently the councillor for welfare and culture, was mayor for two years.

Hila is convinced that a left-wing pact will continue to govern Palma after the 2023 election, but he dismisses the idea of sharing the post again: "Once and that was that."

He accepts that there have been frictions between the three coalition parties in recent months (Podemos are the third) but believes that "in the pre-election period these are normal". "Who governs governs. But when the elections come, parties seek to strengthen their own profile. People vote for parties and not for coalitions."

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For Hila, the "biggest litmus test" for the current administration has been overcoming Covid. The pandemic having been pushed into the background, this year has seen the return of tourists and of familiar arguments. Tensions over the naming rights sponsorship of Real Mallorca's stadium and promotion to attract digital nomads have been new elements in a wider debate about tourist overcrowding, and the mayor admits that "there have been times when certain areas of the city have had the feeling of being saturated".

"You have to manage it, and let's not forget there has been full employment this summer. During Covid a lot of people had a hard time. You have to find a balance. We are the only city that has put a ceiling on its entire tourist offer. We regulate holiday rental and prohibit it in flats. This represents decrease. The general urban plan was also modified so that no more hotels could be built.

"There is now a two-year moratorium on building new hotels. And this was agreed with the hoteliers, who shared the view that we had reached the ceiling. A cap has now been put on the number of cruise ships. We must continue moving towards quality tourism. This doesn't mean rich; it means being respectful of Palma as a destination. It is quality tourism of the family, not that of drunkenness."

With regard to tourism promotion, Hila stresses that the Palma 365 Tourism Foundation "has never promoted Palma in high season, except in the years of the pandemic". "There are already enough tourists in summer. The goal is to lengthen the season for employment. I understand the complaints, but tourism is what we live from."