T HERE is still something of the Sunday finery about the Majorcan towns and villages. You notice it less in the resorts, but in the “pueblos” they put on best bib ‘n' tucker on a Sunday. It's snobbishness in truth.

There are lady wives of the old farmers or landowners who made good and got lucky by selling out to the tourism shilling or who found themselves, Forrest Gump-like when he was sent his share certificate for Apple Computer, part owners of some tourism empire, thanks to whatever force - family, friendship or something dark - was at work.

Now summer is nearly here, the Sunday firs have been put into mothballs and the dehumidifier will be raging twenty-four hours in their vicinity. The cashmere cardy assumes shoulder position instead, a few inches below a face that permanently betrays the presence of something that smells less than pleasant. It is the face of many an older Majorcan woman whose man was once showered by all his Christmases in one go: a face contorted in contempt.

On election day, on a Sunday, the finery is finer than ever. The old, got-lucky farmers and even the not so lucky old men don that long-forgotten adornment - the hat. They head first to the polling station, then to church to pray for what they have just done and then argue about what they have done over a luncheon of pork and cabbage.

Market day
In Muro town, election day is Sunday and also market day. The unholy trinity of finery days and of making it nigh on impossible to find a parking space.

Of the elderly, especially the farmers, you wonder as to their allegiances. A great nephew may have become the black sheep of some obscure leftist tendency. They will probably assure the parents that their vote is secure, but opt instead for something more conservative. Some of these farmers were part of the old co-operative, the one of the Generalísimo's era; they did alright by Franco.

The contrast is the “joven” clan, the youth element. Not so much the middle-of-the-road bank workers or hotel employees, but the dreadlocked, art and artisan, fervently Catalan-speaking, wish-they-could-have-been-part-of-the-protests brigade. Muro, like other pueblos, has this clan, graphic or web designers all, some who are teachers and others who are ... well, they just are. There is little doubt where they stand. Or for whom they might vote.

At the polling station. The old Guardia building. Alerts have been put out that there will be heightened security. The local police are a strangely potent symbol of the town's elections, having fallen out with the mayor and having threatened to denounce him. Their numbers are not great (all two of them), but you suspect they will have voted for anyone other than Martí Fornes.

The more ancient “murers” tackle the process of voting as they do an encounter in a chemists. The explanation needs to be given several times, and there are still further questions, while the whole encounter is prolonged by dutiful enquiries as to the health and welfare of the polling station personnel's family, extended family, extended family's friends ... .

Bars and restaurants become temporary HQs for the political parties. This is a phenomenon you can witness on other occasions. I did so during the cuttlefish fair in Puerto Alcúdia. One restaurant was the mayor's, his supporters, his family's and his extended family's, his extended family's friends and their friends - and relatives.

Pork and cabbage
The mayor's party, the Convergència Democràtica Murera, might be thought to be reeling from the announcement, two days before the election, that the order to protect birds had been officially adopted. It extends the area of protection from the Albufera nature park to parts of the Son Bosc finca. As such, it makes the golf course untenable for a party which might as easily be called the Golf Union of Grupotel.

But the local election is not solely about a golf course. It's not really about anything much, other than the day itself. In the town, in the finery. Like all events in Majorca, it is a social occasion.

The result? Well, it does matter, but there are more important things to worry about, such as getting a table for the pork and cabbage.