The Balearic Islands are at present going through a fierce political battle regarding the problem of urban development.
The left wing parties and the nationalists control the Institutions (Councils of Majorca, Ibiza and Minorca and the local government) and are setting into motion all the legal measures within their reach to stop more land being eaten up for development, especially along the coast.

The situation is very difficult because the Balearics are the richest community in Spain and the building companies and real estate promoters carry a lot of weight.

In addition to this, buyers, especially Germans, are coming in force.
The expectations of short-term business are enormous.
In Palma, in areas away from the coast, flats are being sold on the plans.
The prices spiral upwards without stopping while the left insists on allowing only the most essential building to go ahead. Some politicians have already been heard saying that very soon, young islanders will not be able to do what their parents or forefathers did: buy a house or a flat when they get married. Indeed some cannot even aspire to pay rent, which is rising all the time. Some people say that a good number of islanders could be left outside the market. In the meantime, the regional government plans, at least in theory, to build a large number of subsidised homes. But this is very expensive. This is the chief problem for the Balearics. Building a lot means to lose its charm for tourism. Building little means that part of the islanders cannot pay the prices.

The wealth of this region could turn against it. It is a problem which is very difficult to solve. It is the challenge of the new century now beginning. The left and the nationalists are between the devil and the deep blue sea.

JOAN RIERA
The author is the news-editor of the Catalan newspaper Balears.

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