Yesterday in parliament. All smiles from President Armengol.

12-09-2017CAIB

It was supposedly going to have been a tense day in parliament yesterday and for tourism minister Biel Barceló in particular. Podemos were angling for a motion of censure against Barceló. Ostensibly this was because of the Més contracts affair, which still manages to rumble on. However, the Podemos general secretary, Alberto Jarabo, had also referred to Barceló's management of tourism. The demonstration of 23 September is in part a response to the "great criticism of his management". Podemos have been seeking Barceló's resignation for months.

As so often with Podemos, though, the pre-parliamentary session bluster was not matched once the session was under way. The party had been going to link up with the Partido Popular in seeking Barceló's censure. However, there were strings attached to this. Podemos wanted the PP to censure its own leader, Biel Company, as well. This was because of allegations of irregular electoral campaign expenses not having been repaid. The PP wasn't about to do this, and so to no one's surprise the censure motion failed; the debate deteriorated into a PP-Podemos slanging match, and hardly for the first time. The PP, which brought the motion, got the support of the C's; Podemos ended up abstaining, as did El Pi; PSOE and Més backed their man at the tourism ministry.

Otherwise, parliament became involved in a "tourismphobia" debate. Marga Prohens of the PP wanted to know why President Armengol had said nothing about the anti-tourism incidents led by the "radical" group Arran; the incident on the Moll Vell in Palma took place almost two months ago now, although it didn't come to light until early August.

Prohens criticised the government for having spent two years "demonising" sun-and-beach, cruise and luxury tourism. "Has this not been the best breeding ground (for anti-tourism)?" Moreover, the government has not been able to control illegal holiday rentals, which have generated "more social conflict than ever".

Armengol responded by saying that the government is not demonising tourism. It is working to improve the economic model of the Balearics. "You will not find anyone in our government who is criminalising tourism. I will not fuel the controversy over tourism," she said. "People are better off than two years ago because this government is working to redistribute wealth."

And finally, Armengol took aim at Mariano Rajoy. The prime minister, she suggested, had exaggerated the anti-tourism incidents in the Balearics this summer during his visit to Palma (for a meeting with King Felipe last month). This had not been "the best way" to talk about tourism, which drives the economy of the Balearics.

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