Prohens can’t command constant visibility. | M.A.CAÑELLAS

A native Americans’ pow-wow is a time for feasting and partying. There won’t be any of that today. There’s a pow-wow as it has come to mean - a meeting, preferably one involving those on friendly terms. And if there’s not total cordiality, there will at least be some passing of the peace pipe.

The Partido Popular are attending an institutional pow-wow which, if not marked by total harmony, has been portrayed as a gathering of consensual action. Having consistently declined to accept an invitation to participate in so-called social dialogue, the PP have cast aside their objections in the name of “respect and institutional loyalty”.

You bet they have.

A Covid-inspired table for discussion, there is now crisis that takes the PP to its seats. “Urgent measures” cannot wait any longer, observes Marga Prohens, who the PP faithful hope will restore party fortunes that were once so rich that the PP could govern alone in the Balearics, unmolested by inconveniences such as coalition.

While Prohens assured the faithful last week that these fortunes will be returning - and in some fourteen months time - she knows how much they have dwindled. Oh for the days in 2011, when José Ramón Bauzá could run the Balearics with 35 out of 59 seats in parliament. Down these went to 20 in 2015 and then to 16 in 2019. Recovery, such as it is, represents a gain of two seats, according to the weekend’s poll.

Governing alone? Forget it.

Why go to the pow-wow now? Crisis there is, but crisis there has been. Meanwhile, time has passed and the four-year election cycle has moved with it. For the PP, there are conditions of legitimacy and of visibility, and there is the elephant in the room that can no longer be ignored - coalition and which implies Jorge Campos and Vox.

Prohens can’t command constant visibility because she isn’t a member of the Balearic parliament. She can’t joust with Francina Armengol each Tuesday. Campos can and does, not infrequently drawing reproaches from the left pact along the lines of hate speech. The shivers on the left will be shared by the rest of the opposition, and that goes for PP members, especially those attached to philosophies that Bauzá did much to trample over. It might be recalled that he and Jorge Campos were quite close.

Joining the inner circle of dialogue grants greater visibility, while the legitimacy of participation contrasts with the populist Vox demo outside Palma town hall at the weekend. Crisis is not a time for political protest. It is one for calm discussion, involving a party reasserting a legitimacy dating back to the first regional government of Gabriel Cañellas and therefore also its claim on government.

The PP and their forerunner, the Alianza Popular, were the natural party of government for islands that were inherently conservative. However, the politico-social dynamic has altered, hastened by the irruption of populism from left and right, while there is the consistent nagging of a nationalist minority. Prohens will view that poll with as much alarm as Francina Armengol. Rather more perhaps. A PSOE decline of six seats is partially offset by a rise of two for Podemos, whose image regionally and nationally has softened greatly - Juan Pedro Yllanes, high court judge turned Balearic vice-president, is no ranting tub-thumper.

Curiously perhaps, the elephant now let out of the room gives Armengol more to cling onto. Neither Ciudadanos nor El Pi in the Balearics want anything to do with Vox. Based on the poll, they could facilitate a left investiture and set their terms for doing so. While for Prohens, there is also the attitude of Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the moderate about to become PP national leader who has no great enthusiasm for coalition with Vox.

But fourteen months remain, fourteen months for much to potentially develop. Meanwhile never let the desire for political power, even through undesired coalition, be discounted, despite Feijóo’s words - “It is better to lose government than win it through populism”.
Prohens, by accepting the invitation, is in a way following Feijóo’s lead, as he has called on Pedro Sánchez for national agreement to tackle the latest crisis and which acts a buffer against Vox. It is a call to recognise legitimacy and a step on the way, Feijóo and Prohens hope, to regaining those times of governing alone. This would come through the legitimacy of the ballot box, but which is where PP fears reside, as do those of parties of the current government in the Balearics.

Miquel Ensenyat has returned to a previous Més theme - one of applying a “cordon sanitaire” to Vox and by which he means, for example, not debating certain issues in parliament with Vox. But people have voted for Vox, just as they have for Més. That’s the democratic process, and one which - if this weekend’s poll is anything to go by - may result in unstable government, however the pacts align.