By Humphrey Carter PALMA

THE opposition Partido Popular is today holding its final presentation of regional presidential candidates and local manifestos for the May 22 elections in Palma and the Balearic candidate, Jose Ramon Bauza, has the European community on his mind.

Bauza, who has been showing a great deal of interest in a number of problems affecting European residents in the Balearics such as that of the resident permit, which European citizens across Spain want addressed, the matriculation tax for the yachting industry, the right to vote in general elections and Spain's national health system's failure to comply with its responsibility and fully recognise the European Health Card.

Only last week Brussels reminded Spain of its obligation to comply with the European Health card rules.

However, all of those issues can only be resolved if, or once, the Partido Popular return to power in Madrid by winning the general elections in March 2012 because they are all matters of state.

For European citizens to be eligible to vote in the general elections in Spain, not only will the matter have to be referred to the European Union, Spain would also have to change the constitution.

That does not mean it is impossible to change, but what is vital is that at local election level, European residents show that they care about what is happening in Spain and want to get involved and in order to do that, they get out and vote on May 22.

Bauza has recently brought the problem of the residents permit to the attention of the PP's chief executive in Madrid and, if the PP do win the local elections, Bauza wants to have people responsible for handling the problems of the European community in as many of the PP controlled town halls as possible across the Balearics.

Calvia has had a European citizens department for many years and Lluchmajor and Santa Eugenia councils have people available at certain times of the week to help the European community. Apparently, Soller and Andratx have already expressed an interest in following suit should the PP win in those municipalities but Bauza wants to have the islands covered as best as possible with one central European citizens help and advice bureau in Palma.

The Bulletin can also reveal that the Partido Popular has this week set up a National Commission for European Residents and heading the commission's branch here in the Balearics is going to be the Calvia Councillor, Kate Mentink, who is not standing for re-election.

Mentink explained that the commission will channel information into central PP headquarters from the European community across the country, in particular its concerns and issues which, where possible, will be addressed by the PP when it draws up its general election manifesto for 2012 because many of the issues are matters for central, not local, government.

Over the next day-and-a-half, the party's 17 regional presidential candidates, some of which are already in power, will be presented and the final stamp put on their manifestos.

However, Mentink said yesterday that “austerity” is going to be the buzz word in Palma with the PP planning on sweeping cuts across the country at all levels of local and national government.

Tomorrow's closing speeches will be given by Bauza and Rajoy.