STAFF REPORTER

THE Partido Popular, currently in Opposition in the Balearic Islands would win with an absolute majority were the regional elections scheduled for May to be held right now, the Balearic Institute for Social Studies (IBES) said yesterday as part of exclusive research commissioned by the Bulletin's stablemate newspaper, Ultima Hora.

The survey says that the PP, led by its President Jose Ramon Bauza would win 30 seats. His principal rival, the current Balearic President Francesc Antich would manage to increase his Socialist coalition's representation in Parliament but insufficient to remain in power. According to the research conducted by the IBES, the victory forecast for the Partido Popular is based on the assumption of there being a complete change of the political map in the Balearics compared to results in previous years.

The IBES claims that the main advance of the PP would be seen on Majorca where it could win as many as 18 seats, two more than it did four years ago. Such a result would cement the leadership of Bauza within his own party, confident of traditional conservative support from Ibiza and the maintenance of 6 PP seats in Minorca.

The left, however, is likely to fight its corner successfully in Minorca and Formentera because of the popularity of Joana Barceló, once the leader of the Council of Minorca and present regional minister for Employment and Tourism.

But the IBES is predicting that some of the “teeth” of the Socialist party will disappear this year because of the weakening of the Majorcan Socialist group (PSM) which IBES predicts will lose 2 seats at the next local elections.

The IBES study shows that it is the fragmentation of the left-wing coalition which will simultanously compound the victory of the centre right Partido Popular. The weakening presence of the Majorcan Unionist and Majorcan Socialists, and the possible disappearance from the political map altogether of the extreme left, will, say the IBES, sound the death-knell of the “Bloc”.

In terms of the popularity of the political leaders with voters, and the degree to which the public are familiar with them, it's clear from the IBES survey that the PP's Jose Ramon Bauza is making considerable in-roads but has still a way to go, as a recognised figure, to catch up with Socialist Francesc Antich (PSIB). Whilst Antich and Bauza forge ahead as principal rivals, other leaders trail in the polls with lower public ratings, namely Biel Barcelo heading the Majorcan Socialists (PSM), Josep Melia leading the Majorcan Unionist party (UM) and some distance behind is United Left (EU) leader Manel Carmona.