Francina Armengol in her office at the government's headquarters. | Teresa Ayuga


In a year's time, the people of the Balearics will decide if Francina Armengol and her PSOE party will govern the islands for four more years in coalition with Més and Podemos. Armengol has been president since 2015, PSOE having formed a pact with these two other parties. For the 2015-2019 administration, Podemos were not formally part of the government. After the 2019 election, they joined the government, their parliamentary members, such as the High Court judge on extended sabbatical, Juan Pedro Yllanes (the current vice-president), representing a more moderate wing of Podemos.

There have been tensions between the three parties, Armengol saying that there will obviously be some differences but insisting that they engage in dialogue and "reach agreements". For her, the pact has worked, and she is of the view that political pacts "enrich" the positions of each party. She therefore defends the coalition left-wing government over which she presides, contrasting this with the alternative - "right-wing pact governments that have been shown not to work".

Speaking after a Thursday meeting of representatives of the three parties, Armengol expressed her confidence in being re-elected in May 2023. "The citizens have trusted us on two occasions. We have returned their rights. We have worked rigorously and have returned to growth. We have passed innovative laws. How else would we have dealt with the situation created by the pandemic? The whole of society, and not just the government, has managed very well and was up to the task during the pandemic. I am proud of that."

The alternative would be that the Partido Popular would have to govern with Vox. The PP, she argues, "have whitewashed the extreme right and have no qualms about governing with them". "The citizens have to know that the PP are willing to put these people into government and to apply policies of the extreme right in the Balearics. But that won't happen."

On the crisis caused by the pandemic, Armengol is of the view that the Spanish government of Pedro Sánchez (also PSOE) has "done very well". "Without its policies, the Balearics would not be in the position we now are. What would have become of us during the pandemic without the ERTE furlough scheme, without the 850 million euros in aid to businesses, without the European funds approved by the Spanish government and the EU after listening to the requests of the regional administrations? And we must also take into account the labour reform. We have given a totally different response to the crisis managed by the PP."

She therefore compares how the financial crisis was handled by the Partido Popular with the management of the Covid crisis, highlighting the fact that investment has offered a way out. "The health pandemic has meant that all public administrations, unlike what happened in previous times, have chosen to go into debt to guarantee public services and build a social shield. The European funds allow us to design a strategic investment plan agreed with businesses and others for a roadmap for the next twenty years."

The government's new tourism law has not been without its controversies, the opposition PP having been particularly critical. However, she insists that it was the PP who decided "to isolate themselves from agreements and, with Vox, maintain a tourism model of excesses that nobody shares, not even the hoteliers". "I am very surprised with the attitude of the Partido Popular, the main opposition party and who aspire to govern in the Balearics."

On the tourism law, "they (the PP) have been disloyal to the citizens, as they were during the pandemic". They have placed everything on playing the "no card and making things worse in order to win the elections". "They have been wrong. They have betrayed the citizens and have made a mistake in planning for the future. With their proposals for the tourism law, they have stuck with the 'Balearisation' model. Ciudadanos and El Pi (the two other opposition parties) disagree with aspects of the law, but they have acted in a totally different way. The PP have wanted to move away from the present and the future of the citizenship of these islands."

The president stresses that the law is not one for the hoteliers. "This is a law for the Balearic Islands and for circularity. It is ambitious and positions us so that the Balearics can be the first circular destination in the world in terms of tourism and a lever for the rest of the economy. For example, when we make hotels change their diesel boilers for electric ones, we are making a commitment to the environment - clean energy and diversification."

Armengol rejects the suggestion that the Balearics are heading for "collapse" under the strain of overtourism. "There is a balanced approach, which is why we approved the law and the moratorium (on new tourist accommodation places). It is why we must rethink the model. We cannot grow indefinitely, which is what the PP and Vox want. If we want to continue living from tourism, and I want us to continue living from tourism, we must balance the supply of places and continue to invest in tourism as well as in the green and blue economy sectors, the knowledge industry and the primary sector (of agriculture).

There is one incident which might be said to have overshadowed her management of the pandemic - the Hat Bar. "I've said it many times - in politics and in life it is important to explain everything you do and intend. At the time of the pandemic, we worked to solve the problems of the citizens. I am aware of how bad it was. But if any action of mine or any other member of the government has been misinterpreted, I have apologised and always have."