Balearic leader Francesc Antich yesterday repeated his offer to the opposition PP (conservative Popular Party) to “sit down and discuss affairs of State” and to be constructive in their opposition, dropping the “predictable” speech which says the government does everything badly. He was speaking on the third and last day of the debate on the state of the Balearics. Antich later commented to journalists that it was necessary to obtain a “fluid relationship” with the opposition, to present a united front in claims on the central government on questions such as transport, energy or the development of a special regime for the Balearics. He described the debate as “very positive,” despite the “many differences” between the coalition government and the PP. But opposition spokesman José María González Ortea said that the coalition's achievements over the past two and a half years have been “very poor.” He said that the coalition's promises were the same as when they began their term of office, and pointed out that the tourist tax had not been introduced, the planning regulations had not been modified and the law on commerce had been approved knowing that the central government would appeal. This,” he said, “was deceiving the small shopkeepers.” He went on to say that the government had made practically no progress in water, energy, housing, health or pensioners, “and the figures prove it.” Maria Antonia Munar, president of the UM (Majorcan Union, which is one of the parties in the coalition), said that the debate had been “sterile, because the final result was known beforehand.” But deputy leader Pere Sampol of the PSM (Majorcan Socialist Party) said that the government had emerged from the debate “strengthened”. Eberhard Grosske of the United Left, which is also part of the coalition, said that the PP had been wrong in saying that nothing had been done here, adding that the PP's stance collapsed when faced with the statistics. One of the resolutions passed during the debate was to set up a committee to study the possibility of changing the electoral law, so that lists of candidates include an equal number of men and women. The PP opposed the motion, but Maria Antonia Munar supported it, although she later said that she was convinced it would never be applied, “like the tourist tax.” The coalition accepted only four of the resolutions presented by the PP, the most important one a request that the Soller tunnel should be toll free for residents. The PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers Party) also proposed asking the central government to let the Balearics choose its own type of roads, to provide more funding for the railway, and to increase scholarship funding for students who have to leave the Balearics. All the parties voted in favour of pressing for bigger discounts for residents in transport to the Peninsula. A request for the Balearics to be given responsibility for airports did not meet with the support of the PP.


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