King Felipe with Baltasar Picornell yesterday.

30-07-2018Miquel A. Cañellas

The speaker of the Balearic parliament, Baltasar Picornell, said yesterday that King Felipe "is willing to build bridges" between the state and Catalonia in order to try and solve the political crisis. "He is trying to talk to the parties that are willing to break away."

Picornell met with the King yesterday morning as part of a round of talks with the main Balearic political leaders, including President Armengol. A member of Podemos, Picornell said that he valued the attitude of the head of state in trying to solve the problem over the push for independence for Catalonia."It is time to build bridges and he (the King) is willing."

The first to open the round of talks was President Armengol, who told the King that the change of government in Spain "has significantly improved the capacity for dialogue" between the governments in Palma and Madrid and has provided "stability" for the development of social policies.

Armengol explained that under the previous Partido Popular government of Mariano Rajoy, the Balearics had "come to a standstill for two years" and "it had been very difficult to move forward due to the situation of instability and lack of political will from Madrid".

The president, the mayor of Palma, Antoni Noguera, and the president of the Council of Majorca, Miquel Ensenyat, both of Més, informed the King of the measures that are being adopted to improve the regulation of tourism and holiday rentals.

Ensenyat also raised the issue of immigrants trying to reach Europe by sea and the decision of the Council of Majorca to declare persona non grata the Italian vice-president and interior minister, Matteo Salvini, because of his policies against accepting immigrants. Ensenyat told the King that the general attitude to immigrants and the complexity of the system has transformed the Mediterranean into a "mass grave".

Noguera and the King discussed the request that the Spanish government finances the remodelling of Playa de Palma and that it hands over to the town hall the house of the last Republican mayor of the city, Emili Darder, who was shot by Franco's Nationalists in 1937.

The meetings at the Almudaina Palma coincided with the presentation in the Balearic parliament of a motion by Més and the Esquerra Unida (United Left) that a binding referendum be held over the future of the monarchy. Although this matter was not touched upon during any of yesterday’s meetings with the King, Ensenyat supports the motion after having confessed to being a Republican. "There is nothing more democratic than a referendum," said the leader of the Council of Majorca.

The next official royal act will be the reception at the Almudaina on Friday evening, which will be attended by people from different parts of Balearic society. Picornell, whose Republican sympathies are well-known, and Ensenyat informed the King that, like last year, they will not be attending.