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STAFF REPORTER PALMA

BALEARIC President Francesc Antich yesterday called on all political parties who are going to take part in this coming May's regional elections to approach the campaign in a true spirit of democracy, urging them to “play cleanly,” to abide by the rules of the game and to respect their opponents.

Antich said that it was perfectly feasible that political integrity be compatible with putting forward opposing governmental programmes for the future of the Island, and with open public debate about all issues. He said that citizens have the right to hear clearly the views and policies that different parties are putting forward, and to be able to make an informed choice about the direction that the region is going to take.

Antich was speaking yesterday during the formal dissolution of Parliament in advance of the elections in May. On the 22nd of the month, voting will take place for the political leadership of each of the Island Councils and the Balearic government.

The President said that political parties should see the occasion of the coming elections as a challenge to increase the quality of democracy in the Balearic Islands and to work towards improvement in the lives of all citizens, particularly in matters of health and education.

We are in a privileged position, said Antich, that we live in a society where members of the public are free to choose their leaders and it is a hard-earned right not to be taken for granted.

Speaking of the term of office of the Balearic government which is shortly to come to a close, Antich said that it will “go down in history” because it has had to face a global crisis, the severity of which has not been seen in the last 80 years.

He congratulated the people of the Balearic Islands, because despite the difficulties - he said - people have shown themselves to be responsible, and to have developed an ability to make the most of a bad situation.

Also yesterday, but in Madrid, President Antich said that citizens should “rest assured” that politicians who have broken the law during their term of office serving the public will have to “pay for it.” Speaking in an interview on Spanish national radio, and in response to questions about the recent cases of corruption that have emerged in the Balearic Islands, Antich said he believed “firmly” in democratic government and the rule of law. He said that it is the duty of the legal system to bring those who have abused their position of power and public trust to justice.