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By Andrew Ede

The language of discount cards

THREE weeks ago in this column I drew attention to what was then only a moderate row over the Partido Popular having launched a discount card for members that could be used at some 300 businesses which had signed up to the scheme. Last week, what had been moderate went very immoderate. Language-wise that is. The row went ballistic, kicked off by a call for a boycott of the businesses launched by the opposition PSOE and Més parties.
The chronology of events last week is worth itemising. Firstly, Dani Ruano of Foto Ruano, one of the businesses, released a video in which he apologised for having become involved with the scheme. He said that it had been an error but one made in good faith. He had thought he was helping (by offering some customers a discount) and would have done the same regardless of which political party it was. He went on to say that he was taking measures to disassociate the business from the “blue card”.
Ruano was indirectly echoing a point that the small to medium-sized business organisation PIMEM was making, namely that businesses were likely to be harmed by associating themselves with the card. PIMEM, for its part, said that it did not support the card. Another business organisation, the Confederation of Balearics Businesses, weighed into the argument, suggesting that it would be wise were the card to be withdrawn, that it shouldn’t have been launched but that the damage (to businesses) was already done.
It was then that the debate got totally out of hand and the language became immoderate. In the Balearic Parliament, the PP’s spokesperson, Mabel Cabrer, launched an attack on the opposition, comparing them to Nazis and the hounding of businesses linked to the scheme to the Nazi practice of placing the Star of David in Jewish shops. This, unsurprisingly, led to the whole matter kicking off big time. Francina Armengol, the leader of PSOE, filed a complaint, stating that Cabrer’s words had been “unworthy of the victims of the Holocaust”. The Més leader, Biel Barceló, was outraged, and even Baltasar Garzón, the esteemed ex-judge (but also a PSOE sympathiser), got involved, calling the card an “electoral fraud”.
President Bauzá then stepped into the fray, defending the card and accusing the opposition of not understanding the notion of “freedom”, as in free choice. He managed to drag the language argument in by comparing attitudes against the cards to those against the free selection of teaching language. And that argument, the teaching one, was further brought into an increasingly absurd debate when Cabrer said that she was seeking an apology from the opposition for having released an image of Bauzá as Hitler when the government had issued its infamous trilingual teaching decree in September last year.
All the while, and in the background, there was the more technical issue of whether the card was legal or not. But such mundane matters as legal ones were being forgotten because of the Nazi blitz that Cabrer had unleashed. Eventually, she apologised.
The legality of the card in terms of political party funding is, in a way, a separate issue, though PSOE, which is investigating whether businesses in the scheme are also contractors to the government, may well be digging up a hornet’s nest that could make life even more difficult for the government. But the card itself, as I said three weeks ago, seems fair enough. Plenty of organisations, including political parties and unions, have such schemes in other countries (Britain, for instance). This is Majorca though, and so the PP’s card has been styled as a means of, in effect, seeking to buy electoral support. It has, as things have turned out, been a mistake. One has to ask if the PP consulted business associations before the scheme was launched, as they were making it clear that they didn’t think it was wise. More than this, though, has been the language. The Nazi reference was cheap and ridiculous, but it was symptomatic of the often puerile way in which politics are conducted in Majorca. If Bauzá had the guts, he would sack Cabrer.

Pueblo Español is too Spanish

WHAT is an appropriate image for promoting Palma? If you are a member of PSOE, you don’t think that the Pueblo Español is appropriate. It was posted by Turismo de España onto social media last week, the purpose having been to highlight the fact that there is far more to Palma than sun and beach. The PSOE group in Palma didn’t disagree with the sentiment but with the choice of image. It was not representative of the culture and architecture of the city. There should be a more serious and professional promotion. Turismo de España clearly, so PSOE said, showed itself to not have an understanding of the city.
Anyone who has been to Pueblo Español would probably confirm that it is interesting and attractive. But being interesting or attractive is no good if it is representative of an alien culture. The clue as to why PSOE has worked itself up into a lather lies with the word “Español”. The village was created in the mid-1960s, so the political background should be obvious. A product of Francoist times or not, do those on social media who might see the image take any notice of the “Spanishness”? You would think not.

TIL being well implemented?

ANOTHER week, another broadside fired at the shaky edifice that is the regional government’s language-teaching policy.
 The latest report can be summed up thus: “Must do better. See me”. It came from ADIDE, which is the Spanish Association of School Inspectors.
 It said last week that TIL (trilingual teaching) was not being implemented well and that in some 20% of schools the project for implementation was still not fully authorised, though it couldn’t be certain of the precise figure as the regional education ministry didn’t seem to know.
The report accepted that TIL was working well enough at primary level but not at others, thus proving a point which should have been obvious, that TIL would make greater sense were it to be introduced gradually, starting with younger children.
Joana Camps, the education minister for whom the word “beleaguered” might have been invented, rejected the inspectors’ report. So, not a great surprise there. All schools are properly applying TIL, she said. Whatever you say, Joana, whatever you say.