The Spanish Socialist Party, the big winners in the local elections last month, will soon be taking control of one of the most prized government departments, the Balearic ministry for tourism. Their success and the failure of their coalition partners, Majorcan Nationalists Mes, will mean that the ministry will soon be changing hands. For the last four years, as part of the coalition deal, Mes have been in charge of tourism and one of their key policies was the controversial tourist tax. But their share of the vote fell and the socialists will now be taking over, although it is unclear who will be appointed minister. In some ways this is good news. The ministry for tourism in Madrid and the local ministry for tourism will be administered by the same party, which should make things easier. However, the socialists intend to continue with the controversial tourist tax and there are not expected to be any major policies changes, at least in the short term.

The new minister will find an industry concerned about increased competition from cheaper resorts in the eastern Mediterranean and falling tourist numbers. He or she will come under pressure from the industry to scrap the tourist tax because local hoteliers fear they are losing their competitive edge. It is not exactly a happy time to be taking over tourism, but at the end of the day it is the star government department, and winner takes all in this case.