If Balearic chief minister could wish for a present, he would ask for rainThe past year has not been an easy one for Balearic Chief Minister Francesc Antich, however, as he looks back over 2000, Antich appears upbeat and positive about developments, although he says his predecesor and Spanish Minister for the Environment, Jaume Matas, has a lot to answer for.
Will you end the year with no changes in the government?
Yes, we've had a tense few weeks, but there are no changes. But in the same breath I don't want to deny that I have been worried about a few cabinet members who I think need a fresh boost which is precisely one of my jobs - to push people along and keep them working. We've had a series of lively debates over water, for example, and I've been behind my minister all the way, now I've got to throw my support behind other issues such as public transport and energy.
But will that not need a few changes to be made?
No, that does not always have to be the case - however if and when I feel changes have to be made I'll do just that.
Are you happy with the work carried out by the ministries?
Without a shadow of a doubt. This government has had the most parliamentary initiative and there is a basic series of principles on which the government has to operate. We have covered important ground in the area of social cohesion and we have not been afraid of dealing with sensitive subjects such as improving the condition of the psychiatric hospital. With the aim of modernising the region, we have also been working hard on issues such as waste, energy, transport, culture and our heritage.
Some sectors have not agreed with all of your policies.
With some sectors we've been unable to reach an accord, but what we have made clear is that our doors are always open. But let me make one thing clear, no government should govern in the interests of certain sectors, but it should govern in the general interests of the public.
Now the crisis is over, is the relationship with the PSM (Majorcan Socialist Party) the same?
Yes, the cogs of the coalition are still running well and within the government we operate as one. I have made it clear, for example in the case of the Commercial Law, it is the Minister for Commerce dealing with the issue, but on behalf of the government which, apart from a few groups such as the UM Majorcan Union party, is working to improve things and accords can and will be reached between all parties in the pact.
With regards to the UM, it appears that the party is on the offensive over the Commercial Law and a number of other issues.
Sometimes we look at things too simply. The Pact exists because of an agreement between the participating parties which all have a different way of looking at things. We have been able to agree on the pact, but sometimes there are different interpretations of events and we have to sit down and reach a consensus.
Do you think the UM is being loyal?
Of course, just like the rest of the parties, but an effort has to be made to discuss all of the issues in order to avoid negotiations developing into a political battle, but that is not always possible. But I would like to point out that the UM has supported the government in all of the parliamentary votes. In a pact we all have to give sometimes in order to take things forward.
This year there have been a number of critical moments within the government over the desalination plants and over the Greens' rejection of the tourist tax. Do we have to get used to living in crisis?
Such debates and differences of opinions are consecuential of a Pact. I think the political debate has become more transparent for the public which can now see exactly what we are discussing. Sometimes I worry when people break the rules, but as long as democracy is in process, there is nothing to fear. If there appears to be a lot of political negotiating, it is because there are a lot of initiatives on the table. I disagree that politically we have come to a grinding halt. Over the past year and a half we have approved a number of policies which had been frozen for 12 years under the previous Partido Popular government.
It appears that one external factor which has affected the government has been Jaume Matas being named a Minister.
At first we all thought it would be beneficial for the Balearics and we still hope that in the end it will be. He has become an important intermediary for the government when dealing with Madrid, but he has also been used be central government to try and unsettle the Pact, which only serves to harm the public. We also need a greater level of co-operation and co-ordination between the Pact and the Partido Popular, but with Matas we are regressing. He wants the Balearics to be treated as a province and not as an autonomous community, which is not what Matas wanted when he was Chief Minister.
What would you ask the Three Kings for?
If I had to ask for a present, I would ask that it rains, cohesion we've got.
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