By Andrew Ede
At the drink: new year political resolutions
THE end of the old year, the start of the new, time for every good politician to come to the aid of his or her party, make some proud resolutions, predictions and boasts and hope like hell that the population is not too drunk or hungover to pay any attention. José Ramón gave his presidential address, having wolfed down his twelve grapes for luck and probably having sunk a glass of cava or two. 10,000 new jobs will be created in 2015, he hiccupped and burped, consulting the back of the fag packet on which his script had been written. Under a commonly accepted principle that 2% growth - which will also occur, according to Joserra - leads to 1% growth in employment, he may well be right. But as no one really knows how many people are genuinely unemployed or indeed employed in the Balearics, it’s hard to agree or disagree. If one accepts that the figure of 84,311 unemployed in November is accurate (which it isn’t because it only takes account of those registered as unemployed), then the 10,000 seems fair enough, if rather too round.
The PSOE opposition was of course having none of it. “Cynical, meaningless and typical of a president who is in the last days of government,“ said spokesperson Pilar Costa. The 10,000 jobs boast was a “desperate attempt to give a positive message”, she went on. And on. Meanwhile, her boss, Francina Armengol, was letting rip not on account of too many grapes and cavas but because of the “authoritarian” manner of the Bauzá regime and a presidential capacity for being “very strong with the weak and very weak with the strong”, which was not a bad soundbite it must be said. Francina then ruined this by asserting that PSOE (which we are really meant to call PSIB in the Balearics) was “the only party capable of real change”. Oh dear, oh dear. Elections come ever nearer and the C-word gets dragged out and in different languages: canvi, or cambio for those with a delicate Catalan condition. It went from bad to worse. It seemed as if Francina had after all been at the cava, sunk an entire bottle and a few hierbas as well. “The people have confidence in the Socialist Party.” Eh? These would presumably be the same people who are failing to give PSOE (PSIB) their overwhelming support in the opinion polls.
It was notable that the Partido Popular responded not through its normal spokesperson, Núria Riera, but through another of the Bauzá Babes, Marga Prohens, which, when you think about it, is a suitably feminist name (in English) to possess. Anyway, Marga wasn’t going down any feminist line but was asserting that the “government has believed in people not in slogans” without perhaps appreciating that she was sloganising in the process. The question was of course, where was Núria? Had she been confined to the shadows of the teacher-transfer scandal or had she beaten Francina to the cava? We’ll probably never know.
Broken glass and pockets of glass
A Palma new year means more than the grapes and the sparkling wine. It also means the Fiesta of the Standard and the opportunity for the “sovereignists” (as they are known) to take to the streets and demand Majorcan independence in the name of the Catalan Lands. Here they all were: the leader of the main teachers’ union; the leader of the Més socialist-nationalists; the leader of the Republican Catalan Left (who had momentarily patched things up with the bloke from Més); and representatives of numerous obscure and less obscure groups, such as the youthful revolutionaries of Arran. Insults were traded with those of a more “Spanish” inclination, windows of the HQ of the right-wing, anti-Catalanist Circulo Balear were smashed (as they usually are) and then everyone headed off to the bar. The number of sovereignists was down, it was reported, and despite the insults, there were no incidents. Sovereignism, which makes its voice heard in a way that is vastly disproportionate to the support it has in Majorca, seemed to be less appealing than ever.
The Standard do in Palma requires that the mayor makes a New Year address as well. There was some anticipation as to what Mateo Isern, spurned and cast aside by Bauzá, might have to say. In the end, he said nothing of much note, other than to suggest that governments should have pockets of glass; their politicians could have helped themselves to the broken windows at the Circulo Balear then. Isern was in fact slightly paraphrasing what is a famous quote by a leading Spanish political thinker of the last century, Enrique Tierno Galván, and it means being clean, transparent and not corrupt. Which brings us conveniently to the bold vanquishers of the corrupt, Podemos. its followers in Majorca and the Balearics were voting last week on who will form “citizens’ councils” in twenty-one towns. The leader of Podemos in Palma is now known. He is Carlos Saura, who was photographed alongside a number of Podemos-ites who, it must be said, looked pretty normal for Majorcan political sorts in that the blokes were mostly all wearing jeans. Absent were any Pablo Iglesias stick-on ponytails or hair extensions. Still, there’s plenty of time for some hair growth before the elections.
The station with no passengers
THE Enllaç railway station is something which only railway lines can invent. Stuck in the middle of nowhere some five kilometres from Inca town centre, it was created in 1878, its primary and originally sole purpose being to act as the link station (hence the name) which acts as a junction between the lines that go to Sa Pobla and Manacor. Over time, it has become used as a passenger station as well, but this function, the rail operator decided last week, was to come to an end. From the start of the year the station would be closed to passengers other than those transferring trains. The reason was that SFM, the operator, said that the 200 grand for new ticketing equipment was not justified. It said that the station has only an average of 25 users per day. However, locals disagreed. “Many people” (more than 25 one assumes) in Costitx and Llubi use it.
No sooner had this announcement been made than the very next day the regional government, having been in touch with the mayor of Inca, said that the station wouldn’t be closing and that means would be found to ensure the continuation of the service at Enllaç. Isn’t it remarkable how decisions can be reversed so swiftly in the run-up to an election.
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