In a week when the agenda has been dominated by whether or not Hamish McHamish can travel from Stornoway to Palma without having to go via New York and can do so, moreover, at a time that allows him to first enjoy a hearty breakfast, by a redefinition of omnishambles by England’s cricket team and by something that has been happening in Eastenders (of which I remain blissfully unaware), Majorcan life has staggered on in not untypically chaotic fashion and has, in the process, introduced the concept of speed dating to political formations. Parties everywhere have been getting into bed with each other, seduced by the merest hint of flirtation. Fancy a pact? Your place or mine? The left have been tying themselves up in knots of mutual bondage: several shades of political neither black nor white that may, by the time they have finished pacting away, exceed fifty. As there are three more than fifty municipalities in Majorca, then this is eminently feasible. When the cat of Podemos was thrown among the pigeons of socialist or something-resembling socialist parties, its claws bared ready to attack and have a good lunch, little might we have appreciated that these various parties (of which there is an unfathomably large number) would resort to an unseemly scavenging for the scraps of power by discarding ideological differences and, with or without the Top Cat of Podemos, combine them to make recipes that can best be described as cooking up stews of “anyone but the Partido Popular”. Ingredients may be incompatible, their flavours may clash, but who cares? It’s all about becoming Master Political Chef (or Chefs). Here a pact, there a pact, everywhere a pact, pact. But amidst all this coalescing and ganging up on the poor PP, there is Podemos which one minute doesn’t know whether it will sanction involvement in municipal elections and the next minute appears to do so and which says, on the one hand, that there can’t be any pacts and then, on the other, appears to change its mind. As much as one can actually fathom out what is going on, we do know that, for instance, in Soller its local Podemos lot has defied politburo orders by forming a pact with PSOE, Més and Guanyem. You, Soller Podemos sorts, can’t become Junts per Soller, says the citizens’ council of the Balearics Podemos and if you insist on being a junt, you’ll be expelled from the party. Here is just one example of how the speed dating has been working and is, as a consequence, causing total and utter confusion. What are the voters meant to make of all this? Who actually might they vote for? One feels that rather than anyone but the PP, the electorate may come to the conclusion that it’s better the devil they know after all rather than some cobbled-together amalgamation of God knows what.
Threatening the hoteliers
As I highlighted earlier this week, the leader of the Podemos politburo (sorry, citizens’ council) in the Balearics had a pop at the hoteliers. Alberto Jarabo issued a “threat” to strip the hoteliers of their power and it was a threat which did not go down at all well with other Podemos-ites. Reflecting again the eclectic nature of Podemos (it simply can’t be and shouldn’t be defined as hard left or anything like), two of those who Jarabo beat off in the vote to be head Podemos-ite criticised his attitude. “There are many people who make a living from tourism,” said Lola Fernández. “Irresponsible,” added another Fernández, Tomás. They had to work together and there was “no place for scaring anyone with threatening statements”. Someone else who called Jarabo irresponsible was tourism minister Jaime Martínez, but then you wouldn’t expect Jaime to say anything else. Meanwhile, the Més Majorcan socialists/nationalists/Greens grouping was sort of saying something similar to Jarabo. It came up with proposals for stamping out corruption and the proposal that drew most attention was one to control political lobbies in the Balearics, chiefly that of the hoteliers. This lobby, said the Més main man, Biel Barceló, cannot be allowed to control government policy. But having said this and no doubt aware of the flak that Jarabo was by then getting, he accepted that the hoteliers do “many good things”. We should perhaps be reassured that among the rhetoric there is some pragmatism being expressed by the left which, regardless of the chaos it is causing through its pacts, still stands poised to be in government after May. Even the Podemos-ites down Calvia way were modifying their attitude. The hotelier is like a spoiled brat, they said, but added that they were going to be positive and were going to help. Quite how is not clear, as their help might appear to run counter to hotels’ interests. Podemos Calvia is “totally against all-inclusives”, which is a position that will curry favour with many among the electorate but not many among the ranks of the hotel class. And then there is also the spectre of the eco-tax which does seem to have found its way into Podemos tourism policy thinking.
Judge Castro: only till December
Away from all this political shenanigans, something of an end game in the ongoing corruption trials was drawing closer, but it wasn’t one of accused being packed off to the slammer. It was the decision of the board of governors of judges in the Balearics which concluded that it could not support a request from Judge José Castro that he be made an “emeritus” judge and so be allowed to continue his numerous investigations beyond this December when he will reach the maximum retirement age of 70. Castro reckons that some five more years are needed to wrap everything up. This decision could yet be overturned by the General Council of the Judiciary, but there would seem to be no precedent that would permit Castro continuing, a situation that the board of governors accepts is far from ideal as a replacement judge would have to pick up the pieces. If five more years would be needed with Castro in charge, Lord alone knows how many more would be required with another judge. Castro’s retirement has long been an issue and indeed it has been suggested that cases could collapse as a result. Can he bring things to a conclusion by December? Most unlikely. There will be those doing their utmost to spin it all out for as long as it takes.