By Andrew Ede
The day of the wand
Garrick Ollivander knew a thing or two about wands. “The wand chooses the wizard ... it’s not always clear why,” he informed the young wizard. For those of you who may have been living an hermitic existence for the past several years or have become one of those foreigners who has gone so native that the only tales you will consider are those in Mallorquín of Antoni Maria Alcover (in which case you won’t be reading this anyway), let me tell you who Garrick was - Harry Potter’s wand supplier. Garrick was right. It most certainly isn’t clear why a wand ends up with who it does.
Yesterday was the day of the wand. Some might call it a baton, a rod or just a pointy stick. But the mayoral “vara” (which is really a rod and is the official term) is in fact a “varita” (a wand) for the very simple reason that it has magically ended up with a mayor and no one is entirely sure how or indeed why.
Some wavers of the wand are doing so without having secured municipal administrations which guarantee them majority support, but they were handed the wand thanks to the ceremonies of investiture: solemn occasions when parties with no intention of entering into an administration nonetheless willingly permit the wand-waver to ascend to the mayoral throne.
The chaotic post-election bargaining that has gone on between the various parties in the villages and towns has now at least come to an end. But it is only the beginning. How on earth are some of these municipalities going to operate when there are coalitions comprising such disparate philosophies as there are and, in certain instances, cannot depend upon majorities to effect local legislation? It is easy to perhaps blame Podemos for all this mayhem, but other parties have been similarly puerile. The only one to emerge with real credit is Més. Its leader Biel Barceló was in effect telling PSOE and Podemos to behave themselves and to allow a three-way coalition for the regional government. Més has not imposed the sort of conditions that other parties have for coalitions. It has been almost statesmanlike amidst squabbling akin to the playground.
You do at least have to hand it to Podemos. They said they wouldn’t accept PSOE as leaders of administrations, and they have more or less stuck to their guns. But, is this really what people voted for? For a party to decline places in administrations because of differences it might have? If you vote for a party, do you not do so on the pretext that you want it to be in government? Podemos - “We Can” - is more like “Well, we could, if it wasn’t for them”.
In Palma, however, the Soms of Podemos have indeed said they can. And will. It took some doing, and once more Més, in the form of Antoni Noguera, were the diplomats who got everyone to see sense, but the compromise will see the wand metaphorically split in half. Two years of a PSOE mayor, two years for a Més mayor, and the Soms’ bloke will be the administration’s spokesperson for the duration.
The Duckworth-Lewis government system
Trying to make sense of how these administrations are formed is about as difficult as understanding the election system which gives rise to them. Eoin Morgan, England’s one-day cricket captain, said on Friday that he didn’t understand how Duckworth-Lewis works.
The same can be said of the electoral and post-electoral system here: it is a Duckworth-Lewis of arcane obscurity. While there is so much desire in this new age of participatory politics for transparency perhaps it could start with making the election system a touch more transparent - as in being even vaguely understandable. This all said, it has allowed for its moments of schadenfreude; none more so delicious than in Calvia. What was it the Partido Popular’s José Manuel Ruiz was predicting before the election?
A landslide? The only slide has been that of his party. Out of the town hall. Duckworth-Lewis has rained on his parade and all the pre-election barbecues etc. designed to attract support that wasn’t there. Bye, bye. There again, Ruiz may be able to get his own back. Calvia is a good example of the wand-waver only - as yet - having a majority in order to confirm the bestowing of the wand. Alfonso Rodríguez can admire his newly acquired varita, but if the Yes Maybes of Sí Se Puede and the open ones of the Open Left decide to say maybe not and close the door, then he could be stuffed.
Unlikely, as a formal coalition may yet emerge, but Calvia goes to show how uncertain the post-electoral scene is.
While all these carryings-on have been carrying on, back in the real world the first member of the Spanish royal family to be deprived of a title since 1924 was becoming duchess-less.
Cristina may not see the inside of the Marivent Palace again, but what’s to happen to the palace anyway? The PSOE-Més-Podemos triumvirate which may or more likely may not become a governmental reality has said that it will open the palace up to the public for nine to ten months of the year. As yet, there is no plan to convert into social housing. The triumvirate has reiterated its intention to implement an eco-tax, and an odd thing happened last week in this regard: the tourism industry was suggesting that it might be an error but not a catastrophe. It sounds as though the industry is resigning itself to there being a tax, but it has other tax matters that are rather more pressing. More pressure was being exerted on the Spanish Government by the IMF to increase IVA (VAT), especially on categories which currently have reduced rates, one of which is the tourism sector.
It’s hard to see Rajoy going along with this, but who knows what a new government might do. And on top of this, concerns were starting to be voiced about the possible impact of the new European directive on package holidays. Basically, it could mean higher prices. These obviously wouldn’t only affect Spain, but at a time when the economy is recovering and when tourism is spearheading this recovery, a triple-whammy of tourist tax, higher IVA and higher cost of package holidays is not exactly positive news. And as if this wasn’t enough, ARCA, the association for the revitalisation of urban centres, was calling for there to be an “eco-patrimonial” tax. Meaning what exactly, apart from yet another tax?