|Sunday-Monday 24-25 May, 2015 Edition #4666|
The week that was
By Andrew Ede
Chaos and comedy
It feels as though it would be more appropriate were this week’s column to be The Week That Will Be.
If the past few days have been a confusion of pre-electoral jockeying-for-position, then just wait until after today. What chaos may yet await us, unless Bauzá has his “Cameron moment” and sweeps into re-elected power with the sounds of teachers booing and braying in the background.
As things turned out, the strike arranged for the green tide of educational activists was a bit of a damp squib, albeit that the dampness of a squib has to be measured - as always in Majorcan statistical terms - by a percentage.
The Balearics education ministry stated “definitively” that 23.4% of the islands’ 11,800 teachers went on strike last week, protesting - inevitably - against the Bauzá regime’s educational policies and the introduction of the new national curriculum through LOMCE, the law on the quality of education.
The main thing that the green tide was objecting to, LOMCE-wise, was the test for nine-year-olds. Again, the education ministry was on hand to give some indication as to the “chaos” caused by this test.
6.84% of schools were reported as having “incidents” which prevented the test being taken.
The association of primary school heads said that there was “chaos” on account of conflicting instructions that had emanated from the regional education ministry. It, the ministry, was unable for once to place a percentage on the level of its conflicting instruction.
But what was this test? Well, part of it required a spot of English. So, there was, for example, a multiple choice question. Fill in the missing word. “Where (blank) you going? I’m going to the park.” What an opportunity was missed. When JR and Frankie Armengol went head to head for their debate on local TV, this should have been the question. How good is your trilingualism? José Ramón? “Erm, erm. Where do you going?” Wrong. Frankie? “I refuse to answer this on the grounds that I believe that TIL has produced chaos in the classrooms of the Balearics - at least 63.7% of them, that is.” (Her percentage of course having been plucked entirely at random.)
JR might have been helped in getting the answer right had the presenter of the debate been one Miguel Angel Ariza, who caused a storm on his radio show for IB3 by announcing that listeners should vote for the PP. It was “unfortunate”, he was to later admit, but insisted that it had been said as part of a “comedy” programme. Vota PP, the party of comedians. Perhaps. Journalist groups were not having his excuse, though. Impartiality, they screamed, those who had not been demonstrating their partiality in the lead-up to the election.
A problem for Miguel, in trying to defend his humour, was that, as one example, on his blog of 19 December he wrote that “Bauzá is, has been and will be a good president”, going on to praise a reduction in unemployment and greater wealth. Or maybe that had all been in the name of comedy as well.
The unemployed of Calvia
This reduction in unemployment has not helped the PP’s candidate for mayor in Calvia, José Manuel Ruiz. A useful summary of the Calvia candidates revealed that he was the only one among the eight who was unemployed.
Well, sort of. What might be interesting to know is whether he has been declining jobs as part of conditions for receiving dole money.
Something suited to his background. Like having been the director of IB3 and having been “imputed” over some spat with Canal 4 (a charge which has been archived).
Still, ever since he quit the IB3 gig in order to dedicate himself to helping to arrange pre-election barbecues for the faithful, he has been “en el paro”. The question is, will he still be after today?
This summary was interesting in a variety of ways. José Manuel, we learned, drives a Fiat 500 (oh well, someone has to) and not one but two candidates - Alfredo Rodríguez of PSOE and Victoria Ruiz (no relation, probably, to José Manuel) - have a Citroën Xsara Picasso. Here has to be a new advertising campaign for Citroën.
“The Picasso, the car of choice of the left wing.” Except. How did this summary conclude that the UPyD was left wing? It most certainly isn’t.
Though as the answers were seemingly supplied directly by the candidates, then we will have to assume that Victoria hasn’t realised that her party is not left-wing. No wonder the UPyD hasn’t a hope.
The Calvia man for Podemos (Sí se Puede Calvià, as it has to be referred to) flatly refused to answer any questions, except to give name, rank (job) and age. How much do you earn? Not saying. Do you believe in God?
Not saying. Where do you live? Not saying. To be fair, it might have been the case that no one had asked him.
An Irish (and German) takeover
While the not-Podemos but under some other name fellow in Calvia was keeping mum, national leader Pablo Iglesias was having his say about transport. He announced that Spain needs more airports. More airports!? Is he mad? Spain has too many as it is; more than even Michael O’Leary can shake a fist at. But even if Podemos has its way or doesn’t, one can be reasonably sure that Ryanair will maintain its leadership of the Spanish airways. It moves more passengers in Spain than any other airline.
My, how national and Majorcan pride is being dented by the incursions of foreign competition. Not that this pride appeared to be evident last week when seemingly the whole of Majorca enjoyed a collective retail orgasm at the openings of the Aldi supermarkets. I mean, nothing against Aldi but it is only a supermarket chain.
Has no one noticed, however, that the Germans are taking over? They’ll be wanting to buy Majorca next.
Media Markt, Lidl, now Aldi. Is there no stopping them? Only the Irish, it would seem. God knows what will happen when Primark opens next year. Make a note for the diary. June 2016. The day that Primark comes to town.
Elections in Majorca
With the regional and municipal elections taking place in Majorca and the Balearics today, the past few days have been full of reporting about the parties and their last-minute pronouncements: each day with the exception of yesterday, which, as it is the “day of reflection”, does not permit political comment or promotion. (This might seem a little strange in these days of less controlled social media, but so be it.)
From Tuesday to Friday we looked at the eight parties and their candidates for the Balearic presidency, and the picture which emerged, as reinforced by opinion poll surveys, is that the results of today’s parliamentary election are uncertain. And might such uncertainty affect the island’s economy?
On Wednesday, Jason Moore suggested that a coalition government - and the uncertainty it might bring - could affect recovery.
While the politicians were gearing themselves up for today’s elections, the day-to-day administration of local government did not come to a halt, though in Palma, and in the case of the Palacio do Congresos, things did stop. Time had run out on a new award for the management of the convention centre complex as reports had not all been received before the City Council there entered a phase during which decisions cannot be made (until a new administration is sworn in). In Calvia, meanwhile, the long-awaited local ordinance regarding anti-social behaviour (street drinking and so on) was approved by the council. Under a headline of “is this the beginning of the end for Magalluf as we know it”, the provisions of this local legislation were outlined; it will in fact come into force from around 9 June.
On Sunday there were two critical letters of a Viewpoint which had not referred to the problem of the so-called prostitutes (the mugging ones) and the consequent safety issues in Magalluf. The point does perhaps need to be made that these Viewpoints are only short items of opinion which are not designed to cover all aspects of an issue. Coverage of this particular problem is in fact given a good deal of coverage on the pages of the paper, as in an article on Tuesday by Andrew Ede. “Do they take us for fools? was its headline, and it queried moves in both Calvia and Palma to deal with issues that afflict certain parts of the two municipalities and finished by referring to the “greatest of the insanities”: the mugging prostitutes of the streets. There had been, as reported on Sunday, a further death as a result of a fall in Magalluf: that of a 49-year-old. As Frank Leavers observed on Wednesday, the age was well beyond that which one might expect.
The big mouth of Real Mallorca
With Real Mallorca having secured its position in the Second Division, the club was hit by a row concerning Albert Riera who, when he signed for the club earlier this season (only a few weeks ago), was supposedly going to be its star name and who, in an interview that was published in “The Bulletin” in March, was going to be “completely focused” on Real Mallorca.
Somewhere the focus was lost, and the reason was that Riera had announced that he wouldn’t play for Mallorca again while Miquel Soler was still coach. Monro Bryce didn’t mince his words on Friday: “Albert Riera’s an average player with a big mouth and a long history of disruptiveness”.
Heroes at work and play
l Much more heartening in a loosely footballing sense was the report on Thursday of the five-a-side football team from Essex police which had been taking part in the Santa Ponsa Football Tournament.
On returning to Stansted Airport, they headed home in a minibus only to see a vehicle on fire.
“They immediately responded to the emergency, stopped and pulled the driver of the Mercedes Benz out of the way shortly before the car burst into flames.” All in the course of duty, you might say, but a reminder of the at-times heroic work that police and security forces perform.
And with this in mind, it was pleasing to have been able to report last Sunday on a break in Pollensa by wounded veterans from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan which had been organised by The Not Forgotten Association with the help of the local community on Majorca.
Best Balearic hotel occupancy since before the crisis
In April, hotels in the Balearics registered the best occupancy figures for an April since 1999.
Figures published by the National Statistics Office show that the occupancy level hit the 65% mark in April, an increase of 6% compared with April last year and one of the highest occupancy percentages in the whole of Spain.
The 65% level is over ten percentage points greater than in April 2010: the 53% then was one of the lowest April occupancy levels ever. Overall, performance in April has contributed to the low season in the Balearics being the best for the past six years.
The same survey also reveals that hotel prices in the Balearics rose in April by 6.3%, leading to an improvement in hotel profit of more than 8%. Furthermore, the number employed in hotels in April was 17,611, which is the highest figure since 2009, and this employment was assisted by there having been 541 hotels open in the Balearics.
As far as visitors to the islands were concerned, the Balearic Statistics Institute calculates that 881,791 tourists came to the Balearics last month.
These represented an increase of almost 6%, while from January to April a total of 1,739,180 tourists arrived on the islands.
This is 13% up on the same four-month period in 2014, with over two-thirds of these tourists (1,205,083) having come from abroad (as opposed to Spain): German tourists led the way followed by the British.
In Spain as a whole, the number of tourists for the four months was up by 4.4%: a new record.
The domestic Spanish tourism market is also showing continued strong signs of recovery.
In the first quarter of the year it rose by 22% in the Balearics.
The Spanish market is, behind the German and British markets, the third most important source of tourists who come to the islands, and its rebound follows some very poor years when economic crisis reduced its contribution significantly.