Ruth Mateu, the minister for transparency, culture and sport yesterday announced her resignation. This followed the exposure of contracts awarded by ministers from the Més party to a company belonging to a member of the party, Jaume Garau. He has been expelled from Més.
Two of these contracts came from Mateu's ministry. Insisting that she had committed "no irregularity", she told a press conference that she was resigning in order to show an example of political responsibility.
She explained that no one in Més had received any instructions as to who should be awarded contracts. There was no "plot" to favour anyone. She added that she had thought about her position for a few a days and had taken her own decision and informed President Armengol and Més in Minorca (which is where she is from). They accepted her resignation because of its political and ethical responsibility.
"I am ultimately responsible for the department and I cannot avoid accepting responsibilities." She was in politics, she continued, "in order to serve the citizens".
Asked whether she thought there will be more ministerial resignations - specifically Biel Barceló and/or Vicenç Vidal - she suggested that political responsibilities ended with her and with her resignation. She noted, though, that the public ethics committee has all the documentation related to the contracts and that it will decide on Monday if there should be "more responsibilities".
Mateu didn't wish to speculate if someone had set out to harm Més by leaking information regarding the contracts. She was asked if there was a possibility that the courts could become involved and replied that she didn't think this was an issue "with legs".
At the end of her press conference, she was applauded by some Més members who were present and received tearful embraces from department personnel.
Mateu's resignation only heralded the later bombshell. Més in Minorca held an emergency meeting at which it was decided that it would leave the government. The Minorca branch felt that Mateu had, in effect, been hung out to dry over the contracts' affair and that she hadn't been responsible for the situation.
Its decision leaves the government - PSOE (14 deputies) and Més in Majorca (six) - with 20 deputies out of the total of 59. It can hope to continue to draw on the Podemos eight and may well be able to keep Més Minorca support (three deputies) on specific policies, but President Armengol's hold on government has suddenly become distinctly shaky.