The elections that took place on 24 May continued to dominate the pages last week, as political parties sought to arrive at agreements on coalitions for the next administrations at regional and town hall levels.
On Tuesday there was a reminder that, despite the failure of the Partido Popular at the elections, the policies of the national government were reaping reward: Spain’s economic growth was forecast to rise to 2.9% for the whole of the current year. But this good news was tempered by the fact that the inequality gap in terms of wealth was widening. The possibilities for coalition in the Balearic Government seemed to change daily. On Tuesday, the national leader of the PSOE socialist party, Pedro Sánchez, was again ruling out pacts where PSOE would not be “the first force from the left”.
He and the party’s federal committee had concluded that the election results made “PSOE the main political force for progress in the country” (which sounded odd as the party’s performance was underwhelming at the elections). By Thursday, President Bauzá was himself repeating a line he had adopted just prior to the election - the offer of a pact with PSOE in the Balearics was on the table: one to “halt the rise of the extreme left in the Balearics”. Meanwhile the three parties of the left with ambitions for government - PSOE, Podemos and the Més Majorcan socialists-nationalists - were holding talks. Agreements were being made in terms of potential policy were these three parties to combine in government. These included a guaranteed minimum income, a special office to counter corruption and a health card that would no longer have to be paid for.
By Friday, and with the minimum income policy the chief headline-maker, the three parties seemed to have moved so close on a joint legislative programme that all which seemed to remain were decisions as to which party would get which posts in government. Would this mean that PSOE would accept a coalition in which it was not “the first force from the left”, as Sánchez had insisted earlier in the week? Everything was still up in the air.
The uncertainties that have followed the elections were referred to by Jason Moore in Wednesday’s Viewpoint.
“The Balearics are without a government” ... (the acting government) “has little or no powers and is simply minding the shop” ... “there is plenty to settle but we have no government”.
Jason noted that this uncertainty was occurring at a time when the tourism summer season was underway, and on Friday, Andrew Ede considered the impact of the uncertainty on the tourism industry. It was “not good for business”. The sooner the industry knew where it stood, the better, but even if a coalition of the left is formed by PSOE, Podemos and Més, there might still be uncertainty, such as with the introduction (or not) of a tourist tax. And while uncertainty was prevailing, projects were being put on ice or potentially abandoned. Yesterday, the fragmented nature of Balearic and Spanish politics following the elections hinted at an impact on the tourism industry. “Investors’ love affair with Spain (was) cooling” with worries that the national government of Mariano Rajoy might “ease off on the reforms that have helped to turn the euro zone’s fourth biggest economy into the fastest growing”.
Rajoy and the PP face the general election in November.
MINORCAN SLAVES OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
Away from politics, there was a fascinating interview last Sunday with Majorcan writer Alfons Martí Bauçà who has researched a story that not even many people in Minorca know about - one of emigration to Florida in the eighteenth century when a scheme was devised to transport workers from the Mediterranean to develop the mostly inhospitable territory in Saint Agustine. It was a story that was to result in what was a form of slavery for the Minorcans who, already familiar with living under British rule, had been willing to swap the island for a British settlement in America.
HUGH LAURIE FILMING
There was excitement, as there periodically is in Majorca when a major star is involved with filming on the island.
Currently, it is the turn of Hugh Laurie to generate this excitement. He is here for filming for a BBC production of John Le Carre’s “The Night Manager”. He had dinner at Portixol’s La Roqueta fish restaurant on Tuesday, and filming took place in Palma along the Paseo Marítimo and the Ramblas.
There was also sadness with the news of the death of Juan Graves, the second son of Robert Graves and his wife Beryl. He died “peacefully and painlessly” on Monday in his home in his beloved Tramuntana mountains, his younger brother, Tomás, supplying an obituary and the poem that Robert had written when Juan was born in 1944.