Bauzá and Company (right) were pally enough at the PP congress.

25-03-2017Miquel A. Cañellas

Biel Company, as had been expected, is the new president of the Partido Popular in the Balearics. The vote by PP members on Sunday - almost a third of those eligible to vote at 75 polling points - gave Company 5,306 votes against the 2,010 for former president José Ramón Bauzá.

Company said that his aim is to strengthen the party so that it can win the next regional election; this will be in 2019. He called for unity and asked it of all those at the congress, regardless of who they had voted for. He had some warm words for Bauzá, stressing that now is the time to work for the PP. "The party is above any personal interests," he stated and observed that no one is "indispensable".

As to some of the acrimony which had characterised the leadership campaign, Company drew an analogy with teaching his nephew how to play football. "It is not right to try and break an opponent's leg. Play hard but never dirty."

The new leader described himself as a normal person who was the son of farmers from Sant Joan. He had grown up in a family which had taught him to fight and defend his roots. "I do not plan to change." He stressed that it was important for the PP to regain the trust of society and to do so with moderation and humility: "values we have always had in the PP and values that we wish to return to."

The battle between Company, who was made environment and agriculture minister by Bauzá in 2011, was essentially one between a PP with regionalist sympathies and moderate views on Catalan culture (the Company position) and a PP that Bauzá represented during his time as Balearic president which was perceived as being anti-regionalist and anti-Catalan.

All the islands made Company the victor, though only just in Minorca. He won in Palma but with only 51% of the vote, thus highlighting the genuine divisions in the party in the capital.

For Bauzá, being defeated in his home town of which he was once mayor, Marratxi, will have been a bitter pill. The former president had over the weekend become resigned to losing the election. Separate votes taken at the congress went against his policies, so it started to become clear where sympathies lay.

Despite the ill feeling of the past few weeks, Bauzá and Company embraced each other warmly at the start of the congress, and Bauzá was seen to be smiling while applauding Company following the announcement of the election result.

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