“The people of these Islands are fed up with over-inflated air fares”

Antich said that he wanted to see as much power as possible transferred from Madrid to Palma allowing the islands a greater degree of home rule but at the same time respecting the Constitution introduced in Spain in 1978. “At the moment all decisions in Spain are taken in the centre (in Madrid) and everyone else across the nation has to tow the line. A modern Spain should function as a network in which everyone has their say and there is open discussion,” Antich told hundreds of people at a reception in Palma yesterday. He said that it was necessary for each region of Spain to have far more autonomy and be able to take decisions on the spot rather than having to wait for Madrid to rule on the issue. Antich also returned to the issue of air fares. This is expected to become one of the key election issues next June. The Balearic leader maintains that the government should subsidise air fares for Balearic residents when they travel around the islands or to the mainland. “At the moment we have to pay over-inflated air fares which means that our travel movements are greatly restricted. Our children are unable to study on the mainland because the fares are so expensive. Something needs to be done,” he said. So far Antich has directly blamed the Madrid administration for not doing enough to help the islands. He also went on to speak about the environmental disaster caused by the sinking of the Prestige off the coast of Galicia. “At this moment in time our thoughts are with the people of Galicia whose livelihood is being destroyed by an environmental disaster.” Antich was not the only one whose thoughts were on next June. The Central Government Delegate or Madrid's representative in Palma, said that she was deeply sad at having to step down but said that she had enjoyed her seven years in the post. Cirer is standing as candidate for Mayor for the right wing Partido Popular replacing Mayor Joan Fageda who is retiring. Cirer paid tribute to all the people in her department and thanked them for their support. The Spanish Constitution was introduced shortly after the death of General Franco. Already there are calls for the constitution to be changed to take into account a number of key issues which have developed over the years ranging from more home rule for each of the Spanish provinces to the European Union. Antich said “the constitution has served us well but perhaps the time has come for change.” Opposition parties in Madrid are also of the same opinion.

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