Wednesday, February 21, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 February 2018

Morning high (7.57am): 11.6C
Forecast high: 15C; UV: 3
Three-day forecast: 22 February - Cloud, wind, 13C; 23 February - Cloud, sun, 13C; 24 February - Cloud, sun, 14C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North 4 to 5 increasing 6 to 7 by the evening.

Grey skies. Some quite heavy cloud. Rain very likely. A strong old northerly will whip up later. Yellow alert for coastal conditions.

Mick's Your Més Man

"Més seem to have no idea where they're going - how much they'd love Ensenyat to say yes, but he wants to stay at the Council of Mallorca."

I wrote this three weeks ago. It was in light of the opinion poll which confirmed that Més were leaking support. A revival of fortunes appeared unlikely. With Biel Barceló, the one Més politician of real substance in government and parliament circles, having been ejected from the frontline, the party was left with less than substantial leadership. Barceló was never in any event going to be a candidate for the Balearic presidency in 2019, but he remained a definable face of the party. Despite the controversies about the contracts and the trip to the Dominican Republic, he was still more asset than liability.

Prior to Barcelo's resignation in December, Més were already riddled with division. The party was aware that Barceló had no intention of standing in 2019, so the question was arising as to who would. Més, a coalition essentially of the PSM Mallorca Socialist Party and the Iniciativa Verds, had begun to show its fault lines, and the more dominant element - the PSM - was getting twitchy. The main candidate appeared to be the social services minister, Fina Santiago, and Fina is not a member of the PSM; she's from the Iniciativa.

When Barceló did resign, it had seemed as if Fina was nailed on to become the new government vice-president. This was before the PSM machinery moved into gear. The vice-president (and tourism minister as it was to also turn out) would be Bel Busquets. Fina has never said anything, but there was an unmistakable sense of her having had the right hump as a result. And she wasn't the only one. Outside of Més, Bel was not looked upon favourably; President Armengol clearly didn't want her.

Since Busquets was catapulted into her dual positions in the government, it has become apparent that she doesn't actually have much support within the PSM rank and file either. Hers, to be blunt, was a terrible appointment, one that was transparently motivated by a PSM determination to dominate Més. The opinion poll ratings are only destined to slip further, unless Més get a grip on where they're going.

Adding to the division within the party was the attitude of Santiago to the contracts affair and then also the Barceló trip. She was more forthright in suggesting he should go because of the Globalia "gift" of the few days in the Dominican Republic than she had been over the Jaume Garau contracts. She had nevertheless implied that more heads should have rolled than the one minister's which did. The PSM, closing ranks around Barceló, didn't take kindly to that.

So, Més have found themselves with two candidates for the presidency who are both, in their different ways, unacceptable. The party needs the cavalry to come and rescue it, and the cavalry charge consists of one person - Miquel Ensenyat, the president of the Council of Mallorca.

Ensenyat has said in the past that he wants to stay on at the Council. Having spent his time as president bolstering the role of the Council, to such an extent that it is appearing more and more like a government in its own right, his intention has been to go for re-election next year. He has also said in the past that he believes Santiago would be the best presidential candidate in 2019. Was he just being diplomatic or did he mean it?

One suspects that it was the latter, even if he now says that he would get a better result than Santiago in a selection run-off. An observation of Ensenyat is that he isn't quite the whole Més (PSM) insider deal. There is an element of distance between him and the party machinery. Nevertheless, Més - if only one faction - know that he is really the outstanding candidate. And it now seems highly likely that he will put his name forward at the primaries for selection. Busquets might struggle to beat Santiago. Ensenyat would have no such problem.

What is it about him that makes him such a strong candidate? One aspect is that distance. He gives the impression of being his own man. As such, and he has demonstrated this at the Council of Mallorca, he is able to draw people together, not divide them. His time as president hasn't been all a bed of roses, and there will be many who disagree with his policies, but he has succeeded in creating a unity with PSOE and Podemos that has been missing from the government and also at Palma town hall.

Ensenyat has his ideologies, of course he does, but they are modified by his being a sympathetic character. If he is confirmed as the Més candidate, it would be a surprise if the party doesn't experience a revival.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 February 2018

Morning high (8.28am): 9.2C
Forecast high: 17C; UV: 3
Three-day forecast: 21 February - Cloud, wind, 15C; 22 February - Cloud, sun, 13C; 23 February - Cloud, sun, 13C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northwest 4.

Cloudy again. All very well the UV rating going up to three, but ... .

Evening update (20.15): Not much of a day; sun was out briefly. High of 16.4C.

The Nine Houses Of Mallorca's Nobility

There is an expression in Mallorquí that refers to someone who acts as though he or she is above his or her station; has airs and graces. It goes something like: "that one thinks he (or she) is from the nine houses".

From the time that Jaume I and the Aragonese-Catalan forces conquered Mallorca in the thirteenth century, the island was dominated by noble families who were supporters of the king. There were blood ties among these families who, by the early eighteenth century, were themselves dominated by an elite - the nine houses.

The names of these families are still present in Mallorca, although it's fair to say that they are not among the most common names: they wouldn't be because of their noble pasts. The nine were and are: Berga, Cotoner, Dameto, Salas, Sureda, Sureda de Santmartí, Togores, Verí and Zaforteza. They had alternative names or titles that reflected their status. Hence the Sureda de Santmartí were the Marquises of Vilafranca, the Togores were the Counts of Ayamans and the Barons of Lloseta, the Dameto were the Marquises of Bellpuig. In the case of the Cotoner, I recently wrote about the origin of the shield of Mallorca's newest municipality - Ariany. The shield contains the image of a cotton plant. Cotoner means cotton maker. The Cotoner were the Marquises of Ariany.

Blood ties or not, the Mallorcan nobility was constantly in disagreement, but in the early eighteenth century any disagreement was set aside. The Marquis of Vivot (Sureda) was to talk about "ties of common blood rather than ideas". The marquis had been on what was the losing side in the War of the Spanish Succession. Or put it this way, he was a supporter of the Habsburgs and their claim to the throne. Most of the elite had backed the winning cause - that of Felipe V, the first Bourbon king of Spain.

The consequences of the war were far-reaching for Mallorca. They still inform a great deal of political and social debate and argument today. Felipe set out the Nueva Planta decrees. The Crown of Aragon, of which Mallorca was a part, was dismantled. Castile and Castilian were to impose hegemony over Catalonia and the old crown and over the Catalan language.

Juan Vázquez de Acuña y Bejarano was another member of the nobility - the Spanish nobility rather than Mallorca's. His title was the Marquis de Casa Fuerte. Following the end of the war, he became the governor and captain general of Mallorca; he was to hold the post for five years from 1717 to 1722. Casa Fuerte's principal task was to establish the requirements of the Nueva Planta. This meant ensuring that there was no uprising. One means of lessening the likelihood of any insurrection against what is still dubbed by some in Mallorca as the "Bourbon imposition" was to get the key noble families onside. It was Casa Fuerte who proposed what was to be an extraordinary alliance of the wealthiest and most powerful families on the island - the nine houses, "ses nou (sometimes written as nous) cases".

Last September, ahead of the Catalonia referendum, the PSOE socialist party in Catalonia was branded with an insult. The party was said to be a traitor to the nation (that of Catalonia). The word used was "botiflers". The origin of this word - one theory anyway - is that it came from the French beauté fleur, a reference to the Fleur de Lis emblem of the Bourbons. Whatever the origin, the word took a different course. It is also said to be where "botifarres" came from; botifarres as in the sausages.

The botiflers were those principal noble families, the supporters of the Bourbon cause. Those families, Casa Fuerte reckoned, would be able to keep the less powerful nobility in check: ones who had been more inclined to back the Habsburgs during the war. The nobility as a whole had its economic interests to look after, and so the alliance grew. By the end of the eighteenth century the elite was classified according to its superiority. One name not in the original nine was among the six most superior of all - this was Despuig, the Counts of Montenegro and Montoro.

Among the nobility that was classified as less superior was the "second class without titles". They weren't marquises, counts or barons; they were just important and quite powerful. Who do we find in this list? Well, for example, there was Armengol. And in a "third class without titles" there was Barceló.

The noble classes saw their power and influence erode. The names still endure, and in some instances it would seem as if that old power and influence has moved in a different direction.

Monday, February 19, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 19 February 2018

Morning high (7.58am): 7.2C
Forecast high: 17C; UV: 2
Three-day forecast: 20 February - Cloud, 17C; 21 February - Cloud, wind, 15C; 22 February - Cloud, 13C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Variable 2 to 3.

Cloudy. Not much of a day to come. Occasional sunny spells with any luck. The rest of the week's looking grey with rain at times.

Evening update (20.30): High of 18C.

When Luis Riu Became News

It would be wrong to conclude that the owners of Mallorca's Big Four hotel chains actively court publicity. They get it as they can't avoid it: when you're fishes the size of the Big Four in the small business pond of Mallorca, this is inevitable.

The Escarrers, father and son, are the most prominent: Meliá is the biggest of the Big Four. Miquel Fluxá of Iberostar is not far behind: with that mane of silver hair he is the most recognisable. Simon Pedro Barceló's banker appearance is the total opposite of Fluxá's flamboyance. He has rarely enjoyed the sort of coverage he has received recently, because of the now aborted merger with NH Hotels.

The Rius, brother and sister, are the least known, and Luis was less known than Carmen. This was how he had liked it. A somewhat reluctant head of a massive hotel empire, he had to step in (as did Carmen) when his father died in 1998. He had really wanted to be an architect. Everyone knows about Luis now. If he had ever believed that he would attain something approximating to global recognition, he would never have contemplated this being because of images of himself in handcuffs. Prosecutors in Miami-Dade County have given Luis the publicity he has always shunned.

On the face of it, things don't look great for Luis or for Riu Hotels & Resorts. Investigators had amassed 119 pages of documentation. Allegations of free stays in hotels or hefty discounts; Mariano Fernández, the former head of urban planning, was a beneficiary, and Mariano apparently had luxurious suites replete with jacuzzis and a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label as a birthday present. The "gifts" seemingly spiralled out of control: one employee of the Miami public works department asked for free nights for her father.

None of this has of course been proven in a court of law. But damage has already been done. The company is threatening to sue individuals who have been making what it considers to be defamatory comments. It naturally and justifiably reserves the right to take action. Damage limitation is needed, and there are those in the Balearics only too ready to increase the damage.

Be it just a whiff or more potent, scandal surrounding any of the Big Four (especially the Big Four) provides an open goal for hotelier critics to net their recriminations. The Panama Papers offered this where Meliá was concerned. With Luis Riu, the goal is more tempting. The prosecutors got their man, even if he did give himself up voluntarily. For observers in Mallorca there is a greater reality with the Riu case than with the Panama Papers. Smoothing things with town hall and local authority officials - allegations or proven facts - has been a way of life on the island. (One says "has been" with a degree of optimism.) Everyone in Mallorca can understand what has happened in Florida, as it could just as easily have been in Mallorca.  

For some current elements in higher political echelons in the Balearics, Luis Riu has been like manna from Heaven. It's not difficult to figure out who these include. The Balearic Islands do not deserve to be "shamed" in the way that they have been, has said Alberto Jarabo of Podemos. The image of the islands has been "tainted". Alberto can be thankful for not having tainted the image. Subletting a holiday rental in Son Serra de Marina and forgetting to declare the income is not something that anyone away from the islands gives two hoots about.

David Abril of Més has observed that certain "lobby" groups attempt to influence laws. Who can he possibly have been referring to? In foreign lands, power and influence are used in order to go above the law. Abril, as with Jarabo, could have been expected to have been less than impressed by developments in Miami.

What of the media, though? The broadcaster IB3 is being accused of having already condemned Luis Riu. A witch hunt has been launched. The coverage given to the affair is vast by comparison with other major stories, one of which was the Biel Barceló trip to the Dominican Republic. When a tourism minister from Més runs into controversy because of the supposedly irregular acceptance of a gift, this doesn't merit the same scrutiny as a hotelier allegedly plying individuals with gifts.

With IB3 there is a bigger game going on. The Partido Popular is demanding the resignation of its director, Andreu Manresa. The broadcaster is being politicised (nothing new with this; the same has been said in the past of other directors), its ratings are plummeting, and there are issues to do with the contracting of reporters and with a "poor working environment". Accusations of some bias in the Riu affair have to be considered in the wider context of criticisms coming from the political right.

Meanwhile, Luis Riu has never been such big news.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 18 February 2018

Morning high (9.17am): 11.7C
Forecast high: 16C; UV: 2
Three-day forecast: 19 February - Cloud, sun, 16C; 20 February - Cloud, 17C; 21 February - Rain, 16C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 5 easing Variable 2 to 3 this afternoon.

Quite a mild morning but rain is possible. Not much by way of sun anticipated.

Evening update (20.00): High of 14.8C. Some rain this morning, some sun this afternoon.

Nomadic

I suppose it's fair to say that I was never particularly drawn to the idea of a British foreign resident amateur dramatics society - Nomads, the North of Mallorca Amateur Dramatics Society. Until, that is, I ended up almost by accident with a small part in 2015. It had been an awfully long time since I had been on stage - school as Thomas Mendip in The Lady's Not For Burning and either of Rosencrantz or Guildenstern in the Tom Stoppard play (not being too sure who was who was part of the deal with the play).

For the following production, I rewrote The Sound of Music, then it was Oliver and this year Mary Poppins. The idea was to make them like pantos, although it was more a case of making them farces. And over these years they have acquired - and one can say this with all due modesty - something of a cult status, typically because of what can go wrong: the prompt, Lorraine, falling backwards through the curtains during The Sound of Nomads has been the high point of the cock-ups.

With this status have come the audiences. The Casa de Cultura in Alcudia was so full for the third and final performance of A Spoonful of Nomads last night that there were kids sitting on the floor in front of the seats. Even the Saturday matinee was two-thirds full; that has never happened before. And remarkably enough, there were quite a number of Spanish in the audience.

So, a success and one for a small part of British resident life. I guess it says something about this foreign community, although I'm not entirely sure what. For one previously reluctant participant, I'm not overly minded to contemplate a so-called expat existence. Like Brexit, I let others worry themselves about that.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 17 February 2018

Morning high (8.04am): 7.2C
Forecast high: 18C; UV: 2
Three-day forecast: 18 February - Cloud, sun, 16C; 19 February - Cloud, sun, 16C; 20 February - Cloud, sun, 17C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South 3 backing Northeast 5 in the afternoon.

The same mix of clear and cloudy sky this morning. Sunny later, clouding over by the evening. The forecast at present into next week suggests we are in for another cold snap from Wednesday.

They Sing The Body Politic Electric

Around a month ago, Francina Armengol was ambushed in Madrid. At a pre-Fitur tourism fair session organised by the Exceltur alliance for tourism excellence she was left friendless in the face of an onslaught on various fronts. She couldn't even count on fellow PSOE-ite, the president of Valencia Ximo Puig: Valencia's PSOE is not in favour of a tourist tax.

The Balearic tax was but one issue. It was the one that grabbed most attention, as Francina copped it from the likes of Carmen Riu, whose brother is now of interest to the authorities in Florida. It was as well that the allegations against Luis Riu hadn't surfaced pre-Fitur; Francina might otherwise have wandered into dangerous territory re "irregular" practices in seeking to get her own back on Carmen.

Moderating that session was the president of Exceltur. The moderation was not as moderate as it perhaps should have been. The Exceltur president is José María González Álvarez. His day job is that of the CEO of Europcar, one of the car-hire giants which don't always appear to be the Balearic government's best friends.

Francina couldn't even rely on the moderator. Apart from the fact that José María was supposedly moderating, it wasn't entirely a surprise that he seemed disinclined to give Francina an easy ride. Within Exceltur, one has always felt that there must be business leaders who take a different view to the big hoteliers on an issue as controversial as holiday rentals: the car-hire sector would be one of them. Holiday rentals are good news for Europcar and others.

It wasn't holiday rentals, however, that had moderated José María's moderation. What had annoyed him in particular was an aspect of the Balearic government's proposed legislation for climate change. Faced with the prospect of all hire cars in the Balearics being electric by 2030, he informed Francina that "it will be the sector which decides this and not the Balearics". In actual fact the deadline for all hire cars being electric will be 2035. Seventeen years away; there is surely time for the car-hire sector to fall into line. Isn't there?

José María's apparent disagreement with Francina was not entirely in keeping with Europcar's own thinking. At the International Car Rental Show in Las Vegas last April, Europcar unveiled an initiative to create an all-electric car club. The car-hire sector is fully aware of the dynamics - electric cars, demanded because of their environmental friendliness, are going to have a significant impact on the industry.

In pure PR terms, José María might have adopted a more moderate tone with Francina. But the electric stipulation was just the latest issue in the far from harmonious relationship between the Balearic government and the hire-car multinationals. There has been all the business with not registering cars in the Balearics, with tax being paid elsewhere, with the hire-car sector being accused of "saturating" the islands' roads in summer.

It may have been the case that José María had felt that the Balearic government was stealing Europcar's thunder: look, we're already planning for an electric future, and we don't need a government to impose it. Possibly it was. But setting aside the differences that the multinationals have with the government, why should there be a problem with going all electric? Seventeen years represent a long time for technologies to further advance, for costs to come down, for infrastructure to be in place. The government is planning this infrastructure, and for islands the size of the Balearics, there can ultimately be little doubt that an all-electric future is eminently feasible.

There is a fear with the government's climate change strategy that some of it is just designed to grab headlines and be a potential boost to votes in 2019. Nevertheless, this government is the first to truly attempt to try and get to grips with climate change and with the related subjects, such as switching to renewables, if Madrid wasn't being as obstinate as it is.

An all-electric hire-car future is seventeen years off. Of course it's feasible. Who makes the decision shouldn't be the issue. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 16 February 2018

Morning high (7.50am): 8.6C
Forecast high: 20C; UV: 2
Three-day forecast: 17 February - Cloud, sun, 17C; 18 February - Cloud, 15C; 19 February - Cloud, 15C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): West 2 backing South 3 in the afternoon.

Blue and grey sky mix early on. Due to be mainly cloudy all day. Fairly warm.

Evening update (22.15): Not much sun but not band - high of 19.4C.

Let's Go!: Stopping Catalanisation

Mos Movem! En Marcha! Let's Go! is the full name given to the Facebook page of a group that started in Menorca - Mos Movem. Let's go or let's get going are probably the best ways of putting this Menorquí into English.

The Facebook group was started some three months ago. There were, as of midday yesterday, 9,337 members. The aim of the group is to "mobilise Balearic civil society". This mobilisation is directed towards Catalanisation, and a key cause has allowed the group to grow stronger - requirements for speaking Catalan in the Balearic health service.

There is to be a demonstration in Palma on Sunday morning. The Catalan requirements will be one aspect, but more broadly this is a group - a movement - which rejects what it sees as dictatorial attitudes on behalf of the current Balearic government. A Catalan "imposition" is said to be indicative of this dictatorialism. Another is the apparent support of independence in Catalonia and a drive towards the fulfillment of an officially created Catalan Lands. President Armengol is accused of wanting the latter just as much as members of the more obviously nationalist Més.

Because of all this, Franco has returned, says one of the spokespeople for Mos Movem, Manuela Cañadas. Franco's return, it might be noted, is of a rather different flavour to the original, but we get the idea. Franco is always hauled out when there is some argument about imposition of one form or another.

In an interview with El Mundo, hardly a natural political ally of the current government, Manuela suggests that attempts have been made to keep the group off the broadcaster IB3; to not give it any publicity airtime. She adds that a request for a meeting with Armengol has gone unheeded. Because there has been no response, there will be the demo. Armengol's insistence that she pursues dialogue, according to Manuela, is a "facade". This may be putting it too strongly, but the president - as I have noted enough times - can make no public statements without stressing how much she and the government seek dialogue (and consensus). As it is said so often, you know it is at least partly phoney. And if it doesn't suit to have dialogue, e.g. with Mos Movem (allegedly), then it doesn't suit, so dialogue can go hang.

Mos Movem is hardly the first group to come along which takes issue with Catalanisation. However, what may distinguish it to the likes of the Circulo Balear or the Fundació Jaume III is that it is tapping into the popular culture of social media and into an issue - Catalan in the health service - that is arousing the sort of opposition that there was under the Bauzá government to trilingual teaching (which was more a case of the Catalan issue from the opposite perspective).

There won't be anything like the numbers protesting as there once was against Bauzá, and that will partly be because the opposition to Bauzá was so coordinated. Nevertheless, the demonstration will demonstrate the divisions that exist in Mallorcan and Balearic society.

One senses, if only from what one is told by Mallorcan people, that there is a majority who sides with Mos Movem. The group advocates, as did Bauzá and as do organisations such as the Fundació Jaume III, the promotion of the islands' languages (or dialects if you prefer) over Catalan. The insistence on Catalan is representative of the desire for there to be the Catalan Lands. In Mallorca, and seemingly also in the other islands, there is not a societal desire, only a partial political one that is bolstered by organisations diametrically opposite to Mos Movem - the Obra Cultural Balear is one.

It's not as though I don't know the ins and outs of the debates and the history. It's not as though I don't have a great deal of sympathy because of the repressions of the past. But with the language, I fail to understand why Catalan is elevated to the level that it is above the islands' languages. The preference for these languages is styled as being right-wing, but left or right politics should not have anything to do with it.

The trouble is that they do, despite the fact that they cause havoc in the two most important public sectors - education and health. Manuela Cañadas accuses Armengol of not engaging in dialogue. Even were she to, there wouldn't be consensus, and it doesn't seem to matter who the president is or what political complexion a government has. Consensus is absent. As a result, the same arguments crop up constantly to the satisfaction of no one or only to those who, for a time, are in power.

What a colossal waste of energy and what an absurd obsession with generating division. And now there's a new political party joining the fray - Jorge Campos of the Circulo Balear has set up Actua Balears to confront the "separatist threat". On and on it goes.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 15 February 2018

Morning high (8.07am): 7.6C
Forecast high: 19C; UV: 2
Three-day forecast: 16 February - Cloud, 19C; 17 February - Cloud, 18C; 18 February - Cloud, 16C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): West 2 to 3.

A fine, sunny day expected. Tomorrow and the weekend cloudy with some rain at times.

Evening update (21.30): High of 21.3C. Hooray!

Keeping Quiet About Holiday Rentals

Tomàs Adrover Albertí is Alcudia's councillor for the environment. They hadn't needed to let Tomás take care of the environment. They hadn't needed to even invite him to be part of the ruling administration. But they did. It was all something to do with being inclusive, if my memory serves me correctly.

They are the centre-right El Pi and the socialist PSOE. The last municipal election in Alcudia produced a situation reminiscent to how it had been for many years prior to the 2011 election (which the Partido Popular won). The former Unió Mallorquina, of which El Pi is not a direct descendant but is a descendant nevertheless, and PSOE used to form pacts. And by and large they worked well. The pact since 2015 has also worked reasonably well.

The inclusion of Tomàs slightly changed the dynamics of this pact. Tomàs is a councillor with GxA, Gent per Alcúdia. This "people's" party was in fact a compromise between Més and the Esquerra Unida (United Left). At each other's throats before the election, in Alcudia they were able to create a mini-pact. Tomás was from the Més wing; the PSM Mallorca Socialist Party to be precise.

Between them, El Pi and PSOE ended up with ten councillors after the election. As the required majority was nine, they didn't require anyone else. Tomàs was brought in nevertheless. Very little, to be honest, has been heard of him, and even on an issue as contentious as holiday rentals, Tomàs - environment portfolio and all - has been quiet.

Somehow, Alcudia town hall manages to keep a lid on things. Perhaps it's the sign of a certain maturity that exists within the corridors of that building on the calle Major. The three ruling parties may not have seen eye to eye on everything, but disagreements and dirty linen do not get a general airing in public. Holiday rentals have provided a perfect opportunity for such an airing, but remarkably enough there seems to be an absence of tension or conflict.

Prior to Tomás becoming a councillor, he stated that Alcudia lives from tourism and not from rubbish (this was a reference to the waste that was being imported via the port for incineration). Mayor Toni Mir (El Pi) told me in an interview that Alcudia lives from tourism. Joan Gaspar Vallori (PSOE), the tourism councillor and fifth deputy mayor, told me the same thing in a different interview. Everyone's agreed then, as they are on the type of tourism that Alcudia wishes to live from - quality, aka a tourism that has plenty of money to spend and isn't inclined to stagger along the streets of the municipality vomiting and urinating everywhere.

Alcudia has its share of the non-quality class. This is a reason why holiday sickness compensation claims farming touts descended on certain all-inclusive hotels and why the owners of one complex - Club Mac - set the whole ball rolling which led to the arrests of touts and their boss.

Holiday rentals, although I personally have an issue with them because of the pressure caused in the residential rental market, generally speaking do conform to the "quality" that Alcudia wants. As with all-inclusives, where not all holidaymakers should be tarnished with the same negative and disparaging brush, the holiday rental tourist is not universally "quality". By and large, though, he or she is.

The town hall held a council meeting on Monday. The Partido Popular opposition raised a motion. In essence, it was against the Council of Mallorca and the holiday rentals zoning. El Pi backed the motion. It was passed. PSOE and Tomàs were against. The pact was therefore fractured. So, has there been a rumpus? No. And nor was there much of an air of conflict when the Council of Mallorca worthies - the Més president and the PSOE councillor for land - turned up at the auditorium for a rentals presentation and discussion. Were this other town halls, Pollensa's for example, you wouldn't hear the end of it.

The point is that all parties are agreed on the principle of quality tourism. Where they do have disagreement is the means of achieving this. El Pi wants less restriction on rentals. PSOE and Tomàs follow the party lines as have been set out by the likes of Mercedes Garrido, the PSOE councillor for land, and Miquel Ensenyat, the Més president of the Council.

My own view is that despite the dog's breakfast approach to zoning, I am generally in agreement with the Council of Mallorca and the Balearic tourism ministry. But having a dispassionate and civilised debate about rentals can at times seem nigh on impossible. In Alcudia, at least on the public surface, they appear to manage this impossibility.