The local government are investigating the foreign-owned non-resident property market. The reason for this investigation is that they are trying to obtain an accurate figure of how many people actually live permanently or non-permanently in the Balearics. This new census is needed so that they can show the central administration in Madrid that as the Balearics have a larger population than their record suggests more aid should be forthcoming to pay for public amenities.

But trying to get an accurate figure will be a nightmare. What we do know is that there are 8'000 British residents registered, of whom about 2'500 work. There are about 10'000 Germans and according to official figures from the police there are about 30'000 EU expatriates living in Majorca. Now this is all perfectly correct and totally accurate. But then you read reports that by the year 2002 there will be one million German owned properties in Majorca... That in some municipalities 40 per cent of the population is non-Spanish... That councils have to employ foreign language-speaking staff because of the high number of non-Spanish EU nationals. The list goes on. But who are these people? It appears that we have a “missing population” of British and Germans who appear on a semi-official census when needed but disappear when not. One of the reasons why the foreign vote was such a flop in the last local elections was because there are only a very few legally registered residents. I think about 3'000 non Spanish European Union residents voted, which is not bad when you consider that only 30'000 were eligible and many of those may be under 18 or had not been registered at their council. A puzzling state of affairs. Not so puzzling are the airport figures, long considered a barometer of the state of the industry. But did you know that every passenger is counted twice..? Jason Moore

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