Vice-president and tourism minister Biel Barceló resigned yesterday evening because of a scandal surrounding a recent trip to the Dominican Republic paid for by a private tourism company.
According to Barceló, the trip to Punta Cana was with the television sports programme Fora de Joc. Barceló has been a contributor to this programme for ten years, although he didn't participate in the edition filmed in the Dominican Republic.
The storm over the trip arose because it clashed with an important parliamentary debate, which he therefore missed, and - more importantly - because it was paid for by Globalia. The accommodation was at a Globalia Be Live hotel, and the flight was with Air Europa, which is also part of the Globalia group.
Barceló acknowledged yesterday that he had misjudged his actions. He stressed, however, that he had gone in a private capacity along with others who have contributed to the programme. He explained that he did not go in his role as vice-president of the Balearics. He was invited by the programme's director and emphasised that there was "no direct or indirect relationship with any company".
But while Barceló had been offering assurances earlier yesterday about "correcting the situation", his party, Més, met to consider his position and his future. The likely presidential candidate for Més in 2019, Fina Santiago, had already described the trip as "indefensible".
Barceló stood accused of potentially having violated the party’s ethical code on gifts and conflicts of interest and indeed the government’s code. A meeting that had been scheduled today between the government parties (PSOE and Més) and Podemos was postponed at the request of Més.
President Armengol appeared to agree with Santiago that the trip had been indefensible, while the leaders of the Partido Popular and Ciudadanos - Biel Company and Xavier Pericay - both demanded that Barceló should resign. Some of the harshest criticism came from Podemos. The party called on Armengol to sack Barceló. He had, in the opinion of Podemos, shown a lack of responsibility which has stained the government’s image.
Podemos, which abstained in a recent vote of censure against Barceló over the Més contracts affair, issued a statement saying that there could be no more excuses or justifications. "We set the bar very high against corruption, and we cannot allow something like this if we want a credible government that doesn’t repeat what has happened in the past."
In the end, he decided to step down, and it would seem that his own party was persuasive in getting this decision.