By Andrew Ede
The desperation of José Ramón
“Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?” When The Eagles released this, at a time when the music world was prepared to concede that they were any good, the leaders of the two main political parties in the Balearics were mere toddlers. José Ramón Bauzá and Francina Armengol might have grown up together, their entries into this world separated by some nine months: boy and girl, childhood sweethearts, forever devoted, forever in a pact of togetherness. Alas, this was not how it was to be. Fate conspired to keep them apart, to follow different paths, if only politically. Pharmaceutically they had a bond, his family pharmacy in Marratxi, her family pharmacy in Inca. Hence we have what we have: the world of Balearics politics, run by chemists, each dispensing paracetamol to relieve the giant headaches of the populace they cause.
Francina turned on José last week. “Desperado”. Not just desperate but very desperate. “Muy desperado”. José wanted to turn back the clock, to discover what they had been denied in their infancy. Togetherness. A pact. Francina was having none of it. Now a matriarch, for her a craving for the rules of the kindergarten - sometimes adhered to - applies only so much in the adult world of Balearics politics. PSOE’s leader rejected a post-electoral accord with José’s PP.
José was desperate. Desperate for an alliance to keep the PP in power. The mere suggestion of a pact with PSOE showed he understands what the polls say. Bye, bye, Bauzá. And with all the nasty, rough boys of the left forming gangs to beat up his mayors in the sticks, José was in desperate need of his own gang, his own pact. Every other party is pacting, so why not the PP? But José has found, as he will continue to find, that no one wants to join his gang. He is being consigned to a corner of the playground, the others having stolen his ball and calling him horrid names.
Spurned, José shouted that Francina’s PSOE was slipping to become the third force in the islands’ politics but that he was offering her a way to be more of a force, a part of a grand force of PP and PSOE. It is the time for “responsibility, high-mindedness, for democratic participation and stability”, all of which only the PP, together in peace and harmony with PSOE, can offer. Francina wasn’t listening, and as usual the Bauzá Babe In Chief contributed her penny’s worth. Mabel Cabrer bellowed that Francina was interested only in agreements with “radical extremists”.
José’s pact gambit proved that the desperado had indeed taken leave of his senses. What is it, above all, that Podemos rejects? The two-party, PP-PSOE system. Yet here was José willing a duopolistic electoral carve-up, evidence of a perpetuation and magnification of the cosy system considered to be discredited by Podemos. It would not only have been Podemos who would have smelt a very large rat. The electorate would have detected the whiff as well. Desperation leads to desperate measures, but a PP-PSOE pact would be one too far, even for a desperado.
Into the abyss
For Podemos, the suggestion of a pact represented the “last step into the abyss”, a fall into a chasm of such unfathomable depth that there could be no return. Democracy would be flung into a Mariana Trench of unsustainable pressure that would cause it to be split into millions of parts. Or something like this. Laura Camargo of Podemos said the pact would be one between two weak parties struggling to maintain the bipartisan system of mutual benefit. But if, as Friedrich Nietzsche suggested, the abyss looks into you when you look into it, what would it see? The abyss stares back and observes a man with a ponytail?
It is not known if Laura first consulted Podemos supporters and asked them to tweet or text their agreements to the abyss statement, but Alberto Jarabo, who may or may not be the Podemos presidential candidate in the Balearics, was establishing that the Podemos participatory process would ensure that its election manifesto will be the most read in all of democratic history. He may be right, as evidence would suggest that no one reads the manifestos of other parties. Had they, they would, for instance, have know that Bauzá’s insistence that trilingual teaching formed part of the PP’s last manifesto was total rubbish.
A cornerstone of the Podemos programme, said Alberto, will be a Scandinavian model, a claim that, without substantiation, could be interpreted in a variety of ways. As Podemos firmly believes in gender equality, it can be safely assumed that he wasn’t referring to one particular type of model. So if not a leggy blonde, then what? Will Podemos advocate the price of alcohol sky-rocketing? Not if it doesn’t wish to ensure a sound thrashing at the polls, it won’t. No, the model will include state provision for health and dependency care along Scandinavian lines, while all measures that Podemos will offer will be “accompanied by a plan of economic viability”. Will this plan include, therefore, precise calculations of new tax rates? The Podemos participators might have something to say about these but as, according to Alberto, there are certain “red lines” which must be respected, it is hard to say, just as it is hard to say what these red lines are. Doubtless we will find out.
Giving Majorca to the Germans
As Podemos would have to conjure up a scheme to enable Spain to wriggle out of its debt without upsetting the Euro apple-mountain cart in a Greek style, might there be a neat solution to hand? A new programme for the “Cuatro” television channel featured a voxpop on the streets of Madrid in which members of the public were asked about a proposal that Majorca should be given Germany in exchange for writing off Spain’s debt. The Madrid citizenry was unsure or indifferent. “Let them do what they want” was one response. “You would have to ask the Majorcans” was another. “I’m from Madrid.”
Some wags then ran a story on the internet that Angela Merkel was launching a referendum in which the people of Germany could decide if Majorca should become the seventeenth state of the Bundesrepublik. It will take place on 8 May.
The story does of course have echoes with the famous one from 1993 when a journalist with the newspaper “Bild”, on the basis of a jokey and casual conversation with a politician who had tourism responsibilities, reported that the German government was prepared to pay 50 billion marks to acquire Majorca. It was a story which, remarkably enough, was taken seriously, and even the Spanish royal family was asked for its reactions.
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