What do you think? | EFE


There are times when one senses that Iago Negueruela feels obliged to state things through gritted teeth in order to keep up appearances of the political pact that runs both the Balearic government and the mini-me government of Mallorca, namely the ever-expanding Council of Mallorca.

Negueruela, you will need no reminding, is the Balearic tourism minister. Therefore, he is ultimately responsible for tourism in the whole of the Balearics. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be much point him being minister. Disagreements there can be and are regarding policies, but if these policies emanate from the government for the whole of the Balearics, then they are meant to apply to the whole of the Balearics.

The problem for Negueruela is that government policy has entailed the delegation of certain powers to the mirror governments of the islands. The Council of Mallorca’s alternative government is naturally the most powerful of these, and where tourism is concerned, it now has a great deal of power - thanks to the government.

Biel Barceló, Negueruela’s predecessor once removed at the ministry, said while in office that there will come a time when there may not be the need for a tourism minister. Words to that effect. Barceló, Mallorcan eco-nationalist that he is, was more than content for the delegation to occur. Negueruela, a Galician socialist who has learned the ways of the isles, would doubtless disagree with the Barceló vision. The only turkey he has in mind has a capital T and a tourism economy based on vastly cheaper labour than in Mallorca (or the Balearics). For the minister, Christmas is a target for breaking the seasonal cycle, and he’s the one to achieve it.

Thankfully for the minister, the Council of Mallorca is presided over by one of his own - Catalina Cladera, Francina Armengol’s presidential shadow. And PSOE at the Council, as in the Balearic government, is first among equals of the coalition pact. The mantra of consensus and dialogue does of course insist (or at least infer) that there is equality, but this goes only so far when the individual parties of the pact see things differently.

“Democratic maturity,” said Negueruela the other day. He was referring to the fact that PSOE’s partners in the government of Mallorca, aka the Council of Mallorca, had broken ranks and were proposing alterations to the tourism decree - his tourism decree, the one approved by the Balearic government and therefore intended for the whole of the Balearics. This maturity, he explained, comes through open debate.

Different parties of the pact can therefore, should therefore, be expressing different views, if they so wish.

It was when mentioning the maturity that one sensed the Negueruela teeth being gritted. Yes, I have to say this sort of stuff, but for God’s sake ... .

The tourism decree has generated certain controversies which are difficult to understand. No, hang on, they are easy to understand when democratic maturity is functioning in as stroppy and almost irrational a manner as it has been. The media has defined these mature differences as a “crisis” for the coalition - at the government of Mallorca at any rate, if not the actual government.

Negueruela has had to deal with a fuss about the number of tourist accommodation places that amounts to an argument over some 18,000 out of a total of 450,000. He himself has implied that the Balearics don’t actually need these 18,000, and mostly everyone has pretty much agreed with him. However, this hasn’t prevented them from provoking a row over very little.

But if there is a little that can be comprehended regarding these accommodation places, the same cannot be said for this week’s clash, one to have provoked the apparent crisis. This all concerns a provision of the decree whereby hotels can increase their built area by up to 15%. Essentially, this would involve extensions, but not additional floors and most definitely not additional rooms and therefore places. An extension might, for sake of argument, accommodate a spa, a new facility “of quality” for a hotel.

Back in May 2020, the government first floated this expansion. It was a Covid emergency measure to give a boost principally to the construction industry. There was a fuss then (the measure was approved) and there is again, now that it is in the tourism decree. Més and Podemos, citing the normal stuff about sustainability and what have you, don’t want 15%. They want 10%.

I’m sorry, but what the hell difference does it make? And it’s not as if we’re talking about additional land - the hotels already occupy it. PSOE’s spokesperson at the Council of Mallorca, Andreu Alcover, has said it for me: “I don’t understand how 10% is sustainable and 15% isn’t.”

But there’s democratic maturity for you. The Més-Podemos proposal wasn’t expected to prosper at Thursday’s session of the government of Mallorca. But the “crisis” will presumably linger.