There’s nothing they like more in Palma than a referendum, also known as a popular consultation. Popular, that is, in it being related to the people as opposed to being enjoyed by the many. They’ve been doing the referendum thing for a few years now, and these consultations seem invariably to have to do with terraces.
Podemos, being Podemos, are great advocates of the popular consultation. Their first Palma referendum adventure was with the Born terraces. One-time councillor for internal government (and public service), Aurora Jhardi, arranged a consultation that went disastrously wrong. Dragged out over at least a fortnight, not only did hardly anyone bother to take part, but those who did gave a resounding no to her terrace desires. In all, a grand total of 15,608 citizens participated, 80% of whom told Aurora to get lost. The Born terraces would thus stay where they were, and Aurora - despite the crushing defeat - announced that the referendum had been “a success for all the citizenship”.
Arguably, and with hindsight, this was the worst thing that the citizenship could have done (80% of it anyway). The Revenge of Aurora was to be overwhelming, mainly in its complexity. Terrace sizes were to be altered; adequate passage for the blind and others between terraces and fronts of buildings would be required; distances between this, that and the next thing would have to be adhered to. Meantime, her public way bylaw, which contained all this, eliminated the concept of the illegal street seller. Someone else was going to have to worry about lookies and “top manta”. The councillor charged with looking after the public way, typically (indeed always) used by the illegal sellers, would have nothing to do with potential breach of human rights.
Restaurant and bar owners, who had done their best to try and be diplomatic, realised that they didn’t need to be once Aurora was purged by the dominant Podemos faction that no longer wanted anti-capitalists ruining their electoral chances. A councillor no more, and the restaurant sector branded her a complete disaster. However, there was to be a new Podemos personage on the scene, none other than the party’s now former spokesperson in the Balearic parliament, Alberto Jarabo.
Alberto inherited internal government from Aurora and citizen participation from another ex-Podemos councillor, Eva Frade, who strictly speaking had overseen the Born terraces referendum debacle. As citizen participation includes the holding of popular consultations, Alberto is naturally delighted that the citizens have themselves decided to hold a referendum - these citizens being the very ones who Aurora had done her level best to antagonise from the terraces’ word go with her plans for the Born.
It is the Restaurants Association which is to hold a referendum on terraces, and Alberto is that delighted that he has said that he’ll be the first one to be voting in favour (depending on what the question is), as “I and the government team (at the town hall) are in favour of the terraces”. But these are terraces that don’t any longer of course have any wintertime enclosures, as was pointed out by one Miquel Àngel Barceló Cortes, who no one had heard of until he posted a video on social media making fun of the now unenclosed terraces.
Miquel Àngel, you won’t have known, is the town hall’s “coordinator” for the north of Palma district. He stood as a Més candidate at the municipal election last year and is now a senior official. Providing his version of a children’s song, Miquel Àngel mocked the fact that when it rains, the terraces are going to get wet. Naturally enough, this video scandalised the Restaurants Association and opposition parties at the town hall. His dismissal was demanded, as he had been laughing at all the businesspeople, employees and residents affected by the terrace regulations.
It’s reasonable to assume that he won’t be dismissed. His contribution was just another development in a saga that had its starting-point with that Born terraces referendum. Which side will win the latest consultation? Well, if it’s the Restaurants Association, then Alberto will be able to say, like Aurora did, that it had been a success for the citizenship but that on this occasion it hadn’t been a town hall initiative; it hadn’t been his referendum. The result won’t count.
The judge and the ignoramus
The senior judge taking a never-ending sabbatical, Balearics vice-president and minister for energy transition and the productive sectors, Juan Pedro Yllanes, is learning the language of parliament, and it isn’t terribly court-like.
The PP’s Maria Salomé Cabrera wanted the judge to do some explaining the other day about electric vehicle charging points in tourist resorts. This had to do with the judge’s insistence that there will be no delay in obliging car-rental firms to make available a set percentage of their fleets which are electric. He and the government, Maria Salomé maintained, were banning diesel and not providing enough charging points.
Oh yes he was. Three hundred were installed in resorts last year, and there will be five hundred more this year. Maria Salomé, in his view, was an ignoramus and didn’t have the faintest idea what she was talking about.
Sounds like par for the course.