Prime Minister Rajoy in Palma last week. | Teresa Ayuga


Leading Spanish politicians, a prominent return and an alleged affair involving a prominent figure in Majorca's society. Some of the stories from the week in the Bulletin.

Political leaders in Majorca
On Thursday, it was the turn of Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister of Spain. Rajoy had travelled to Palma for a three-hour stopover as part of his bid to be re-elected in a week's time. The prime minister predicted that his party, the Partido Popular, was heading for a "great victory" and he added his centimo's worth to the tourist tax row. He did not like "eco-taxes", he said. He implied that it would be a "mistake" for the Balearics to introduce one.

Rajoy was the last of the four main candidates to become the next prime minister of the country to come to Majorca, the other three having crossed the sea from the mainland in the preceding few days. Last Sunday, we highlighted the speeches of PSOE's Pedro Sánchez and the Ciudadanos leader, Albert Rivera. Sánchez had made his presentation in Inca, the home town of the Balearic president, Francina Armengol. Like Rajoy he was confident of victory. "We will win the general election." He called Rajoy a "failure" and was looking to a government under PSOE tearing down "the walls of arrogance".

Rivera, meantime, had appeared at Palma's Trui Theatre. He admitted that the C's lacked experience but turned this into an ironic assault on both the PP and PSOE. "It's true, we don't have experience in constructing airports without planes, in looting the cash of others from savings banks or in taking cuts from velodromes and auditoriums. We don't have this experience and we don't want it."

But the greatest publicity went on the rally held by Podemos, which registered by far the highest attendance of the four. Its leader Pablo Iglesias branded the venue, the Palma Arena, a "symbol of corruption on these islands" in delivering a message littered with attacks on corrupt activity and the benefits derived by former ministers who are able to join the boards of "strategic enterprises".

The bishop and the alleged affair
If it was a good week for Iglesias, it was less good for the church, and the Bishop of Majorca in particular. On Thursday, we reported that Javier Salinas was saying that he had "nothing to hide" about an alleged "improper relationship" with a former secretary. The fact that the woman at the centre of the matter and her husband are prominent in Majorcan society and politics provided a dimension to a breaking scandal, one to which the investigations of private detectives had been added. Two day later and the bishop was still strenuously denying that there had been an affair and rejected a claim that he was "in love". He did, however, have to backtrack on what had been said earlier in the week in admitting that a visit to the Vatican the previous week had involved discussions regarding the allegation.

Branson and Ryanair
While Pablo Iglesias and his well-known ponytail hairstyle were making the greatest waves last week, another well-known hairstyle was making a return. Richard Branson was "back". Friday's front page announced that the Virgin boss had, via the Virgin Hotel Group, re-purchased the Son Bunyola estate in Banyalbufar that he had sold in 2002. More flesh to this story was applied on Saturday, the plans for the estate including a determination to turn it into the "best eco-resort in Europe".

Perhaps more significant for tourism, however, was the "gauntlet" thrown down by Ryanair that featured on Friday. The airline has sent a proposal to the regional government and the airports authority Aena which would involve Ryanair increasing passenger volume into the Balearics by 1.5 million in exchange for lower airport charges in winter. Was this good news for winter flights? Seemingly so, albeit that Ryanair's sales and marketing manager for Spain and Portugal was unable to give any detail as to how many of these additional passengers might in fact be ones arriving in the low season.

It was possible to conclude that the Ryanair proposal was part of a wider campaign by Europe's leading airlines to get airport charges reduced. As noted in the same day's Week in Tourism column, the big five, of which Ryanair is one, are lobbying Brussels over "airport monopolies on a grand scale".