Francina Armengol. | Pilar Pellicer


Firstly, an alert. If you are attempting to read this on Saturday, May 27, please look away now. On no account must you be influenced by anything that might sway you one way or the other in your voting intentions - assuming that you a) have a vote and b) can be bothered to go and vote. Saturday is the Day of Reflection, when politicians must keep their mouths shut and therefore have to find some way of occupying their time. Expect, for example, the odd photographic glimpse of politicians taking a walk, cutting the grass, tucking into some typical Mallorcan cuisine - anything but politics. It is of course a bizarre anachronism, one wholly unsuited to a digital age (as print media are supposed to keep quiet as well), but such are elections in a Spanish style.

But I’m not going to influence you anyway. Or perhaps only a wee bit in wondering whether after all the excitement of stuffing an envelope into the box (just the one envelope, the municipal one), there will be a dawning of a new era - the dawning of the Age of the Anti-Armengol - or if the Age of Armengol will continue for a further four years and perhaps for all time.

How different it was in 2011, which signalled the end of the Age of the Train - the Antich Train, with Armengol of the Council of Mallorca running out of steam together with Francesc of the government. It had been the Age of the Train, as Antich had arrived at the presidential station in 2007 announcing that the next four years were to be. Alas, not a single new train - as in a new railway line - was to ever wait at a platform. Yes, they did do some digging between Manacor and Arta, but that was all they did. Financial crisis admittedly didn’t help, but the period of public-transport-promoting administration had been dominated and overshadowed by one of PSOE’s partners in coalition, the Unió Mallorquina, having been collared for every conceivable corruption scandal going.

Francesc Antich was consigned to the political lost-luggage department (the Senate), while Francina, who had declared in 2007 that her door at the Council would always be open, was hanging from the hinges before Maria Salom of the PP came along, slammed the door firmly shut on Francina’s fingers and took an almighty great axe to caprices such as the Council-sponsored TV station.

It appeared as if the normal and natural order had been restored. The PP were back and with an absolute majority, reclaiming what they believed had been rightfully theirs from the time when their Francoist-flavoured predecessors, the Alianza Popular, had won the first ever post-Franco election in 1983. True, there had been the First Age of Antich from 1999, but conservative Balearics had reasserted itself once more. And with a pharmacist from Marratxi now in charge, the Balearic government had never been so conservative. What could possibly go wrong?

Austerity, Rajoy, the ‘gag’ law, Catholic conservatism. On the other hand there was Podemos, there was 15-M, there were the indignados. On top of all this lot, José Ramón Bauzá took on Catalan and the PP suffered a massacre in 2015. With loathing from within his party and from without, he should have gone with his head held low, but stubbornly refused to, the leader who had led his party to its worst-ever electoral performance, the consequence of many factors, one of which was him. Dawn of a new era, the Age of Armengol had arrived.

Worse was in fact to follow for the PP. Four more seats lost in 2019, as there was ever further confirmation as to how the political landscape had been reshaped. Endless pacts of government are now assured. Convenient bedfellows have to be found, even if mutual dislike or distrust wouldn’t, under normal circumstances, permit houseroom to be given.

Covid apart, the Armengol alliances have enjoyed economic good fortune. Pretty much full employment post-Covid; that’s a difficult one for any opposition to take a hustings pop at. The past four years have been astonishing precisely because of Covid. Sure, there will always be the wacky fringe who ramble on about (socialist) government control-freakery. There was the G&T at the Hat Bar. And no, there still aren’t any new railway lines. But it’s not as if there is a general loathing as there was in 2015 or the loathing that was soon unleashed in 2007 when the PP’s Jaume Matas and his misdemeanours assisted prosecutors with placing members of the Unió Mallorquina in the dock.

But I’m not doing any influencing. You’ll make your own minds up. Quite right. This said, how many or how few of you are there? And in truth, does the parliament election matter to you if you can’t vote even if you wanted to? Municipal elections owe only so much to what happens with the government and the Council of Mallorca. Ultra-local, it is possible to consider voting for any party. I do, with one exception on principle, even if they are committed to filling in the potholes. You can guess, as I’m not telling. Enjoy your reflection.