By Andrew Ede
THE result was 3-2. It wasn’t a World Cup match but the score on the board by the judges in the Bauzá Pharmacy Challenge. The compatibles squeezed home against the incompatibles, thus meaning that the president avoided a possible penalty shoot-out of incompatibility. The compatibles won the day, but were they the old contemptibles? Leaders of opposition parties found the decision difficult to understand. Why had the criteria changed?
The Pharmacy Challenge was the one brought by PSOE and Més to the Balearics High Court. It had to decide if Bauzá should be deemed fit to be “Capability” Bauzá, capable of remaining as president by being “Compatibility” Bauzá. Was he incapable and thus incompatible because of his pharmacy business interests? This was the question and the challenge laid down by the opposition.
Majority victory secured, the opposition’s difficulty in understanding stemmed from the fact that a one-time PSOE health minister had been considered incompatible by the same court on much the same grounds, i.e. that she still had a pharmacy business once she became minister. There is, one supposes, one fairly obvious difference between the two cases - Bauzá isn’t the health minister - but the opposition were none too impressed with m’luds’ verdict. They are minded to appeal and so drag the whole affair on and on.
Without going into the tedious minutiae of the Bauzá case and of that which involved Aina Salom, the socialist ex-health minister, there does seem to be a bit of discrepancy between the two decisions, but the case against Salom, which had been brought by the PP when it was in opposition, did seem stronger. If only for appearances’ sake, was it right for a pharmacy owner to be health minister? Pharmacies do, after all, rather rely on the regional government and the regional health ministry.
It is reasonable for opposition parties to seek to ensure compatibility, but short of finding evidence that Bauzá’s pharmacy was gaining unfairly or had unusual contracts with the government, what really was the problem? The case against him has always had a slight hint of desperation about it; desperation to find anything with which to finger him.
The most suspicious aspect of the affair was that Bauzá failed to register his business interests. It was an error, apparently. Or so said the then government spokesperson, Rafael Bosch. If it was an error, it was a fairly major one, but the judges were not asked to consider this error, only the issue of compatibility.
No sooner had the judges decided than Bauzá was on the offensive, attacking the opposition for having spent much of the current legislature attempting to slur him and telling them that they would have better spent their time doing some work. He has a point. Moreover, if the opposition does indeed insist on appealing the decision, might it backfire on them? Would it appear to at least some of the electorate like vindictiveness? They would do well to drop the matter and do as Bauzá has advised.
The health minister’s girlfriend
MEANWHILE, the current health minister, Martí Sansaloni, found himself in a spot of bother over the girlfriend. Was her contract as a midwife at Son Llàtzer hospital compatible with being in a relationship with the minister?
The Esquerra Unida (United Left) was in no doubt.
Sansaloni was “incompetent and a liar and allows favourable treatment”, the minister having explained that a short-term contract for the girlfriend was perfectly legit. And there’s no reason to believe that it wasn’t.
The trouble, as the United Left were only too happy to point out, was that there were nearly eighty other midwives who didn’t get a contract.
The left doubtless smelt blood, if only that to be drawn through embarrassment rather than that to be spilt on the floor of the ministry in the form of yet another health minister resigning. It might be recalled that when Carlos Delgado was tourism minister he appointed the live-in (now Mrs. Delgado) to a nice-earning position in his ministry.
He was soon forced to un-hire her and suffer the embarrassment of having to do so.
Despite Sansaloni’s protestations that there was no favouritism, he must surely understand that there might be a perception that there is. Or maybe he doesn’t understand.
Night and day
NIGHT and day. The PP’s parliamentary spokesperson, Mabel Cabrer, reminded us of Cole Porter this week and also of Ann Widdecombe. She might have been singing romantically of her president when she announced that he is “the day”, but one should point out that there is no romantic association. The president is the day because he is the light against the night and darkness of PSOE leader Francina Armengol. There is something of the night about her, as Mabel didn’t quite say. Mabel does, though, make a habit of coming out with a load of old nonsense, and some of it not very pleasant nonsense, as with her recent description of the opposition as Nazis. But why was she resorting to Cole Porter? It was because the combined left of PSOE and Més had attacked Bauzá for having created greater division, inequality and insecurity over the past three years. Au contraire, Mabel insisted, the president is the shining light that guides the people of the Balearics. His government is “stable and serious, it creates employment, pays its debts to suppliers, activates the economy, has reorganised the public accounts and has managed to maintain the welfare state in the Balearics and generate confidence”.
There will doubtless be those who disagree with some or all of this statement - Francina Armengol would certainly be one of them - but at least the narrative, for once, has shifted to what really matters, such as the economy and employment. It’s no coincidence. Summer is coming, politicians will be going off on their jollies, and when they return it will be gloves off as next year’s election looms ever closer. Mabel was getting in a pre-emptive, pre-holiday strike. With “Compatibility” Bauzá firmly in charge, by a less than firm 3-2 majority, the real battle is about to begin. And it’s going to be a long one. Night and day until May.