O VER the coming three days the Bulletin will be publishing interviews with the main candidates for election in Calvia.
T ODAY, we kick off with the Spanish Socialist Party, tomorrow it will be the turn of the Majorcan Unionists and following the Spanish tradition we will end with the ruling Partido Popular.
A NTONIO Manchado has been campaigning hard over the last 10 days. The candidate for Mayor of Calvia for the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) is in a buoyant mood when he sits down with the Bulletin for an interview in Palmanova. Even his rivals admit that his campaign has been quite successful so far. We elect to speak in Spanish even though he speaks good English. So if he is elected to office in eight days time what is he going to do for Calvia?
One of our main priorities will be to double the investment in education. The facilities in our schools are poor. Class sizes are too big and teachers need help. We are in favour of English and German being taught in school but first we must make sure that they have the facilities and class sizes are reduced.
Bulletin: Your party has often been accused by the present Mayor of running-up enormous debts in the council when you were in power and they have said that they have worked long and hard to try and reduce the debt?
The Calvia council finances are in a worse shape now after four years of rule by the Partido Popular than they were when we left office. The Mayor has been busy selling the family silver. Very valuable plots of council-owned land have been sold off and also the Mayor has been mortgaging the future of the council by asking for government grants early. He may have reduced the debt slightly but the council property portfolio is substantially smaller.
Bulletin: You have been campaigning actively for the foreign vote in these elections but four years ago you did nothing....?
Yes, we realised we made an important mistake, a state of affairs we are trying to rectify in this campaign. I met a British socialist party supporter who said to me that he didn't vote for us at the last election because we didn't ask him. It has been a real learning curve for us and I must say that the reception we have received from the foreign community has been superb. Bulletin: What will you do for the foreign community if you are elected?
We will naturally be maintaining the foreigners' department. This was a very good idea put forward by the present administration. However, we will try and make the office function more effectively by taking on-board the views of the foreign community. We want to form a committee which will be made-up of members of the foreign community who will decide how this office functions and will attempt to address the concerns of the non-Spanish community.
Bulletin: Do I need to mention the cricket club...!
I will say again if we are elected to power the cricket club will be able to remain at its present home. Cricket and lawn bowls will play a vital role in our goal of attracting more winter tourists. A member of the foreign community in Calvia suggested that we should do more, also, to help lawn bowls. We took their advice on board and we will be organising a series of championships with visiting teams from Britain.
Bulletin: I know what the official figures say but I have also come to Calvia in the winter. You can count your winter tourists on a single hand and also the number of hotels which stay open gets fewer every year....
The decline in winter tourism is a major concern for all of us. The other day I was involved in discussions with the unions representing hotel workers and they are deeply concerned as well. At the moment people who work in hotels have to return to the mainland because there is no work here but their families remain here because this is where their children are in school. This causes a whole series of social problems. The only thing this present administration has been promoting is beach tourism. We intend to underline the fact that Calvia has plenty more to offer through sport such as cricket, lawn bowls, golf and cycling (among others). Also businesses which remain open during the winter will receive tax breaks and other incentives.
Bulletin: If you fail to win a majority are you prepared to pact with the Majorcan Unionists?
We are prepared to pact with them even if we secure a majority. They have done a good job while they have been in coalition with the Partido Popular. The problem is that with all the infighting with the PP they haven't been as effective as they could have been. However, we are not prepared to offer them the post of Mayor. The post of Mayor must go to the most voted party. Bulletin: You got former minister for Europe and Labour MP Denis MacShane to come down to support your campaign. How did this come about?
Once again it was a local British resident. He said that did we want the help of the Labour party. We naturally said yes and a few weeks later Denis MacShane said he would be coming. His speech was a major success and it was so nice to see such a large number of non-Spanish European residents attending. We even had a heckler who claimed that he supported another party. It was great. Denis (MacShane) has said that if we win the elections he will come back to celebrate.
Bulletin: Are you going to form a greater relationship with the Labour Party in Britain.
Yes, we will try and ensure that we have frequent Labour Party politicians visiting the municipality.
Bulletin: And finally are you confident? I have learnt in politics never to take anything for granted. All I hope is that our message to voters gets across and then it is up to them to decide. However, it would be very nice to see Denis MacShane again!
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