Marga Prohens looks set to be the new President of the Balearics after securing 36 percent of the vote in the local elections last night. The centre right Partido Popular looks set to have 25 Members of Parliament (compared to the 16 the party secured in 2019) but she will need the support of Vox (8 Members of Parliament) to form a government.

It was an extraordinary result for the Partido Popular (and Vox) who effectively ousted the left-wing coalition which has governed the Balearics for the last eight years. The result is effectively the end of Francina Armengol who has been Balearic President for the last eight years.

It was a bad night for Ciudadanos and the Pi Party who failed to secure enough votes to enter the Balearic parliament.

This is an interview with Marga Prohens which appeared in the Bulletin in April.

The centre-right party’s candidate for President of the Balearics and current leader of the regional wing of the party, Marga Prohens, explained to the Bulletin that one of the main objectives is to “take the obstacles out of the general public’s way” when it comes to making lifestyle choices, which she said that the current Socialist-led left-wing coalition is forcing people to do “by fear”.

“We believe in a free market and we’re talking across the board,” she said.

Prohens, who spent many a summer studying English in Southampton and then German in Berlin, is confident of victory

In the meantime, she has also been focusing on the ‘foreign vote’ and has been championing the PP’s policy of scrapping any attempts to limit or restrict the purchase of properties by non-residents while also promising to reduce and eventually scrap wealth tax - similar to what the PP has done in Andalusia. As Prohens told the Bulletin, such a move can and has been overruled by the socialist-led central government, but loopholes and alternative solutions have been found, although ideally the PP needs to win this year’s general election to be able to smoothly lift the wealth tax, which she said is the highest in Europe.

One thing Prohens was extremely clear about is that everyone is welcome in the Balearics and that all foreign residents are considered ‘Mallorcan’ by the PP.

“For decades, foreigners have chosen to invest in Mallorca, to come and either live here part time or permanently, set up businesses, create jobs, help boost the local economy and establish their family homes here. Foreign residents have played an important role in helping to transform and improve Mallorca.

“They have served to enrich society and make the island more cosmopolitan and therefore we have no issue at all with foreigners moving to the island.

“Eight years ago, Palma was considered one of the best cities in the world to live. Now it is not, and we, with the help of the foreign community, want to restore Palma to the top spot,” she said. And she firmly rejects the proposal of the Balearic government parties to prohibit the purchase of homes by non-residents, warning that “not only does it go against European regulations, it would not solve the problem of housing in the region,” she said.

“The left criminalises foreigners with a house on the island due to the failure of its housing policies and as they watch them fail, they consider prohibition as the solution.

All residents are part of our islands

“Over the past few months, the message being transmitted by the government is that foreigners are to blame for Mallorca’s problems, be these the price of properties, the lack of accessible housing or water shortages, for example. It is bordering on racism,” she said.

“The PP understands that all residents are part of our islands and must be able to participate when deciding the future of our municipalities,” Prohens said.

She said that the government’s housing policies have clearly failed, highlighting that there are “twice as many people” on the waiting lists of the Balearic Housing Institute (Ibavi) as eight years ago.

“Prohibiting the purchase of a home by citizens of the European Union not only goes against the European regulatory framework, it would not solve the problem of access to housing either, because we are talking about different markets. And looking at the global picture, what kind of message does this send out to potential foreign property investors in general, be they from within the EU or not?

“We are already seeing how the ‘fear factor’ is slowing the foreign property market down, but prices continue to rise in the Balearics”, she said.

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“So it clearly would not make any difference,” she added.

“But despite any such prohibition of property sales being illegal in the European Union and would never get approved by Brussels, the conversation is extremely negative.

“The PP not only wants foreigners to come and live in Mallorca, we want those who are already here to stay and we also want to make life easier for foreign residents.

“We are open to suggestions, we are listening, we would like to know how we could help improve the system for foreigners moving to the islands. We want to know what we can do to make your lives easier,” she said. “We are proud of the fact you have chosen to make Mallorca your home,” she added.

Another matter which foreigners are concerned about is the wealth tax and Prohens said that it would “be scrapped”, if she wins the local elections next month. “It will be one of the first steps that we would take. We will lower the wealth tax at the beginning of the administration and end up eliminating it,” promised Prohens, who criticised the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, for “squeezing as much money as possible out of the general public”.

“It is not fair that if we remove a tax in the Balearics, we then have a state one slapped on us by Madrid,” she said.

“The socialists are obsessed with attacking the wealthy. There are very few European countries which have a wealth tax. So why does Spain? It’s time to get rid of it.

“This is a land of opportunities and we want everyone to be able to take advantage of that, which requires a revolution of the local administrations, not only the governments, and the Partido Popular is ready to deliver that revolution,” she said.

“As a party, we’re not looking for culprits, we’re more interested in finding solutions to the problems and that is where the current government has made a big mistake by pointing the finger at foreigners for all of the region’s problems.

“That has to stop because the government is cheating the general public. It is neither telling the general public the truth nor providing any sensible and fair solutions. All it is doing is sending out a highly negative and damaging message,” Prohens said. “This is your house, your home and together we are going to build a better island,” she stated.

Prohibition is not the solution,” she stressed.

“This government has been laughing at the general public, the voters. How many years have we been talking about and promised the tram in Palma? Seven? And now we’re apparently going to get one, although they continue to extend it and tinker with the plans. And where’s the second ring road around Palma? That would alleviate traffic congestion in the city centre. What’s happening to Son Dureta?

Smacks in the face of a free market

“But going back to housing, everything is now stacked against property owners, whatever their nationality. They are talking about rent caps and forcing people who own empty properties to rent them out or even sell them. This smacks in the face of a free market and freedom of ownership rights and it is not going to be the solution to the lack of affordable housing. Barcelona tried rent capping, for example, and studies carried out by the Balearic University have shown that it failed.

“We’ve had eight years of continual problems with the water supply and spillage of sewage into the sea leading to the closure of beaches, for example, but instead of solving them, all this government has done is blame visitors and the increase in human footprint during the summer. And the same can be said for traffic, waste, the list is potentially endless. But why have they not come up with solutions? What was the tourist tax introduced for? No one seems to know how the funds raised have been spent apart from on building social housing and that is not what the tourist tax was devised for.

“It was introduced to raise extra funds to protect and preserve the natural environment, natural resources, improve and upgrade tourist resorts as part of the overall push to improve the quality of the service offered by the tourism industry.

“These are the objectives the PP will invest the tourist tax in and make sure that the general public know where the money is going. Playing the blame game is a very dangerous policy and there is a danger that it will backfire, especially when it comes to tourists or foreign investors - they will simply go elsewhere.

“And that applies to yacht owners as well. Yachts are not static, so any new wealth or emissions taxes on the nautical industry will just force yacht owners or potential charter clients to go elsewhere in the Mediterranean.

“Tourism is our principal industry, we’ve got to live with it and it needs to be managed properly.

“It’s easy to criticise, but governments are expected to come up with solutions and that is what the PP stands for and believes in.


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