By Humphrey Carter

JOSE Ramon Bauza swept to power as the new leader of the opposition centre right Partido Popular on Saturday night after winning 69.17 percent of the support of his party members against the 31.83 percent who voted for his opponent, the Mayor of Calvia Carlos Delgado and the British-born Calvia Councillor for Tourism and Foreign Affairs, Kate Mentink, has been given a key role in the future of the new PP regime.

Mentink, who became a Spanish national just over ten years ago, was voted on to the 21-strong regional executive of the PP during Saturday night's convention and over the next few days will discover exactly what her portfolio is going to be. “I got the call on Thursday, asked for a day to think about it and discuss it with my husband before accepting the nomination,” she told the Bulletin last night. “I'm very pleased. Pleased for Bauza, the party and for my new post. “First, Bauza is going to have to create his 10-strong chief executive, party general secretaries, spokespeople and vice presidents and the like and then he will decide who is going to be responsible for what on the regional executive. “In conversations I've had with him recently, I've stressed that my professional background is very much tourism and the hotel industry but also that I've been responsible for foreign affairs on Calvia Council, but we'll see what he has planned,” Mentink said.

But, not only does the appointment signify an important political promotion for Mentink, she believes that the election of Bauza is also the beginning of significant change for the PP. “He's very hard working, very polite and young thinking and very well educated. He has an open and broad mind. He was actually born in Madrid but came here when he was very young. He's travelled a great deal and speaks fluent French and very good English. “In fact, at the Casino rally last week, he gave part of his address in English once he realised that there were a sizeable number of non-Spanish speaking people in the audience. “As a result of this, I think he is going to want to seriously and genuinely engage with the European and non-Spanish speaking communities which nowadays account for 25 percent of the vote,” explained Mentink. “He's also a very good negotiator and I think that is why he enjoyed such a convincing win. He was able to negotiate with all the right factions of the PP during the campaign,” she added.

But, Mentink did admit that there is going to be no honeymoon for any one on the new chief and regional executives of the PP. “Bauza's made it clear over the past few days in the papers that he's in no rush to return to power but, considering the tension and ill will on Palma City Council, where the Socialist-led coalition is in a minority I do feel that the PP may make its move sooner or later. With regards to the Council of Majorca, where the coalition is in a similar situation, we'll have to wait and see although when it comes to the government, I think he'll sit it out and wait for the elections next year. “It's not the right climate for elections and I think the citizens would just like to see the politicians getting their heads down and trying to resolve the economic and employment problems the region has and getting tourism back on its feet,” Mentink said last night.

However, with a general election just a year away, as a member of the regional executive, Mentink is going to have an important role to play in the campaign and future decisions taken by the PP. “It's a four year post, so win or lose, there's going to be plenty of work for the regional executive to do before and after the elections,” she added.