Sunday, August 28, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 28 August 2016

Morning high (6.17am): 20.2C
Forecast high: 32C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 29 August - Sun, 28C; 30 August - Sun, cloud, 28C; 31 August - Sun, 28C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South-Southeast 3 to 4.

Sun. Hot.

Evening update (20.30): High of 35.4C. Clouded over a bit later on.

The Seven Sins Of Saint John

Sant Joan is a town in the middle of Mallorca with just over 2,000 inhabitants and is one of a smattering of municipalities which owes its name to a saint. And he's not any old saint. He is, or rather was, John the Baptist, very much a member of the biblical A-list.

As befits a town with this name and patronage, Sant Joan honours John the Baptist with having fiestas not once but twice. Along with much of Mallorca, the town has the midsummer Sant Joan, a time of fires on the beach (not in the case of Sant Joan, it probably doesn't need to be pointed out), all manner of demonic carrying-on and, where the town is concerned, appearances by one of the Hairy Johns - Sant Joan Pelós - and the Corb (crow) de Sant Nofre.

Most of Mallorca does not, however, concern itself unduly with the second of these fiestas. In fact, hardly anywhere else does. Maybe it's due to the fact that midsummer coincides with John the Baptist's birth, whereas 29 August is the date of his death, i.e. his beheading. This said, saints' deaths aren't necessarily reasons to be reticent in having a shindig. There are a number of sticky ends that get the Mallorcan fireworks and DJs in the squares treatment.

The beheading does, nevertheless, suggest that the Sant Joan Degollat (beheaded) fiestas should be somewhat more solemn affairs than the cavorting of midsummer. A glance at the programme for today, the eve of John the Baptist's demise, might indeed hint at such solemnity. What is the "condemna" if not his  condemnation?

Well no, it isn't. And nor does the subsequent "sortida rabiosa" (rabid exit, if you like) have anything to do with a manifestation of wild behaviour in light of any condemnation. The thing is that the good folk of Sant Joan have turned the whole episode into an occasion for demons to be taught a lesson and for demons to have a go at the locals.

Many a long year ago - who can say exactly when - the people of Sant Joan (once upon a time known as Sant Joan de Sineu) started having a festival of demons to coincide with the Baptist's headlessness. Way back when, there was a single "grand demon" who would appear amidst the folk of the village and terrorise them (the sortida rabiosa). Such was the apparent fear to be struck into the hearts of the locals and such was the demonic nature of the demon, it was not uncommon for a ringer to have to be brought in from another village to perform the task. For a "santjoaner", it was hard to be a beast and be utterly beastly to the neighbours.

Gradually, or in fact many years later (as in the 1990s), the solo demon was replaced by a gang of demons - seven of them to be precise. They were to represent the seven deadly sins - lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride - and they are what you now have on the eve of the decapitation of the Baptist. What once may have a genuine attempt at striking fear has been replaced by the (half-hearted) strikes of a rope against the legs and ankles of taunting locals by the seven deadly sinning demons.

The rabiosa has thus become like a football crowd with its songs combined with a lot of jumping up and down and the pipers and whistlers doing what all good pipers and whistlers do, which is to pipe and whistle for a great length of time. Plus, of course, there are the demons who nowadays aren't terribly terrorising. And if they don't cause enough terror, the locals let them know about it.

Demons come in different guises and different styles. The really frightening ones are those who play with fire. Others can be almost comical, and the Sant Joan demons - for the rabiosa anyway - fall more into this category. But they are also part of a class of demons who chase and kidnap - the ones of Alcudia for Sant Antoni in January are a good example.

The demons are looking to get their own back. This is because prior to the rabiosa, the condemna entails demons being grabbed and put into a carriage of the type that might once have been used to transport those heading for execution (by losing their heads or other means). Consequently, a demon who might have been enjoying a refreshing libation (in honour of the devil no doubt) in a local bar suddenly finds himself being dragged out of the bar and dumped in the carriage.

After all this demonic activity, everyone - demons and all - head off to the bar, wait for the fireworks and then the DJ to crank up in the square. The demons for Sant Joan Baptista Degollat are an old, old tradition; the DJ rather less so.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 27 August 2016

Morning high (6.07am): 21.3C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 28 August - Sun, 32C; 29 August - Sun, cloud, 28C; 30 August - Sun, 28C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South 2 backing and increasing East 3 to 4 in the afternoon.

Sun. That's it.

Evening update (19.30): High of 32.9C.

Confused By Sustainability

The survey published earlier this week into attitudes towards the so-called tourist "saturation" of Mallorca this summer was very revealing. For one thing, it did rather confirm my suspicions that saturation is more applicable to Palma than elsewhere and that the saturation sensation has been latched on to by Palma-based politicians (and others in Palma) and been turned into an island-wide issue for primarily political purposes.

The overriding conclusion was that increased numbers, though they may cause inconveniences or concerns - more traffic jams, strain on water supplies - bring benefits that outweigh these disadvantages. And even among these downsides, are traffic jams not more of a Palma rather than elsewhere? Not exclusively, e.g. if it's a cloudy day and you have people heading for Soller, but primarily yes.

It was also revealing, as noted by the survey's director, that a sensation of saturation is felt more by those aged over 60. The younger the population, the less the sensation. Revealing but not surprising: there are economic and employment benefits to be reaped from there being more tourists.

There was little doubting that there are more tourists, but the survey certainly didn't link this with a feeling of being overwhelmed, which is one way to describe this saturation. For the regional government and for the tourism minister in particular, the fact that a limit on tourist numbers was ranked the third most important measure for making tourism "more sustainable" might come as something of a relief, given the type of rhetoric that has been coming from the government. But this was still only 10%. More policing was considered to be more important, as was the raising of the "quality" of the tourist, however this might be interpreted (and indeed how those surveyed might in fact have interpreted "more sustainable").

Digging into the issue of limits, the survey found that most people (66%) wanted a limit placed on numbers going to Palma. Well, if a survey base has a majority from Palma, which this one did, then you might expect such an answer. Palma, always Palma. Somewhat strangely, 64% wanted a limit placed on the number of all-inclusive places. Why was this strange? Well, because a limit would allow more tourists to be out and about spending money. That's fair enough, but if there are fewer tourists stuck inside all-inclusives, would the level of "saturation" on the roads and elsewhere not be greater?

It was even stranger when only 2% identified measures to deal with all-inclusives as being important for greater sustainability. Not only did this seem to contradict the other finding, it also ignored the fact that all-inclusives fail totally one of the key tests of sustainability - that of generating general economic welfare.

Also at the bottom of the list of importance for sustainability were holiday rentals. Yet aren't these supposedly the key contributing factor in all the increased tourist numbers? Biel Barceló wants there to be a limit on the total number of tourist places. For there to be a limit, there has to be regulation of holiday rentals (and one really is referring to apartments) - a mixture of permission and prohibition in terms of opening marketing as tourist accommodation.

Barceló, when in opposition, was one who criticised the Partido Popular for its restrictive stance over holiday rentals. In government he is finding out just how difficult an issue this is. He admitted earlier this week that it is "not clear" that websites such as Airbnb, which operate with pretty much total impunity, can be considered as promoting tourist rentals. And underpinning this is the loophole that is the national law on urban leasings (aka the tenancy act). It needs amending, and Barceló said so. Until it is, there will always be evasion and, in terms of Balearic government coffers, no tourist tax revenue. By definition, any accommodation rented out under the tenancy act is not touristic, despite everyone knowing that a great deal of it is just that.

Airbnb and other sites, unless they are somehow made to comply with whatever legislation Barceló comes up with, will continue to facilitate the promotion of apartments that are not registered as tourist accommodation. This is exactly what has happened in Catalonia, despite that region having enabled the legal marketing of tourist apartments. To this end, Barcelona is envisaging fines of up to 600,000 euros for websites like Airbnb. The hoteliers federation in Ibiza this week applauded this stance, while at the same time attacking the Balearic government for what it senses will be regulation "without the consent of neighbours; an activity that seriously prejudices co-existence".

Friday, August 26, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 26 August 2016

Morning high (6.46am): 20.5C
Forecast high: 28C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 27 August - Sun, 30C; 28 August - Sun, 31C; 29 August - Sun, cloud, 30C.

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

Sun, sun, sun. All a waiting game now until (if) the first storm of late summer decides to put in an appearance.

Evening update (20.00): High of 31.2C.

Where's The Investment?: Mallorca's Innovation

It wouldn't be correct to assign full credit to a previous socialist-led administration for the establishment of Mallorca's technology park, but it is true to say that ParcBIT in Palma was officially inaugurated during the period of the first Antich government: the date was 30 May, 2002.

There really should be no need for political philosophies to invade the world of technological innovation and entrepreneurship, but somehow they do. Fourteen years on from ParcBIT's inauguration, technology, innovation and development and research are at the core of left-wing economic thinking. Do they not form part of the right's thinking as well? They do, but if you care to look at the programmes of what might be called the "new" left, you will find that technology is a key element of its economic strategy. Podemos espouse it. The now-forgotten Partido X, from which Podemos derived a good deal of its philosophy, emphasised it. Més, with its mish-mash brand of socialism, nationalism and ecology, are no different.

Technology, or this is how it seems, offers the hope of business democratisation, an opening-up to entrepreneurs, researchers and innovators, a means of creating and sharing wealth for the greater good. It's hard to see how this differs from what the right might believe, but there you go.

Biel Barceló is minister for more than just tourism. His portfolio was handmade for him, as it also includes innovation and research. Given the overriding importance of tourism and the attention given to touristic matters that this government has demanded, it is easy to overlook this dual responsibility. It has appeared at times as if Barceló has himself overlooked it. There again, his combined ministry for tourism and innovation and research has an in-built bias towards tourism - innovation and research account for around a tenth of the budget.

This amounts to some five million euros or so per annum, a tiny sum relative to the overall government budget. Whatever investment there therefore might be from the ministry will also be tiny, though there are other sources for innovation investment, not least Iago Negueruela's trade and industry ministry. Which does perhaps beg a question as to why innovation and research aren't with Negueruela. Other sources are state funds (if the government could ever lay its hands on them) and European funds, on which regular demands are made or planned. Palma town hall, also wedded through its Més deputy mayor Antoni Noguera to the notion of democratisation through technology, is one of the first to hold its cap out. In addition to ParcBIT, the town hall wants to establish a "creative economy" centred on the old Gesa building. Europe will help, it hopes.

The level of institutional investment in innovation and technology is pitiful, and it has been for years. Crisis wiped out much of what the Partido Popular under Jaume Matas had devoted to it, yet the decline in investment was much greater than in other regions of the country. The second Antich government saw to that. So much for democratisation through technology.

Barceló is clearly intent on reviving this. An announcement this week regarding ParcBIT might have hinted at something significant. What we got instead was a government plan to reduce costs for businesses located on the technology park. Every bit helps of course, but this hardly constituted a major initiative for new business development.

ParcBIT has its successes and it has its failures. It is, it is fair to say on the government's behalf, managed by a company in which the government holds 100% of the capital. But how much of its successes are attributable to the government is questionable. Habitissimo, for example, an online service for the building industry, grew on the back of ingenuity and some venture finance. A mark of it as a business was that it was founded and grew during the crisis - that took some doing. It isn't, however, a product of Mallorcan innovation.

It is the failures, though, which capture the headlines. Low Cost Travel has been the most notable, but there was the fiasco with the Microsoft Centre that preceded it. In terms of kudos, the decision by Trivago to up sticks and find more spacious facilities on the Paseo Marítimo was not the best of news.

The idea for ParcBIT, with its business incubation and its technology clusters for the likes of marine technologies, nautical, audiovisual and of course tourism, is sound, yet perversely it can be subject to the vagaries of governmental policies or inaction: the audiovisual sector is a prime example. It is a vital means of boosting economic diversification but if government hampers it, then the chances of real "killer" innovations breaking through which could provide a quantum leap for this diversification are lessened.

Ambitions for a creative economy, a minister for innovation and research. All fine, but ParcBIT and Mallorcan innovation require rather more than saving costs for waste management.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 25 August 2016

Morning high (7.05am): 21.3C
Forecast high: 29C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 26 August - Sun, 29C; 27 August - Sun, cloud, 28C; 28 August - Sun, 29C.

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

Bits of cloud around first thing, but nothing to fear, sunny days are here.

Police Failure And Failing The Police

When is a policeman not a policeman? The answer is when a judge has slapped a restraining order on him entering police facilities. This is the situation as it applies to three (former) senior police officers - Palma's Joan Mut and Antonio Morey and Calvia's José Antonio Navarro. The judge investigating police corruption allegations - Manuel Penalva - has issued orders against the three. In the case of Mut, the restraining order also prevents him going within 300 metres of the "honest" cop who blew the whistle on him. Neither Mut nor Morey, furthermore, can go near the offices of Palma's councillor for public safety.

The cases of these three officers are not necessarily linked. There have been suggestions that alleged police corruption centred on Palma's and Calvia's nightlife districts do have some links, but no evidence has been revealed to indicate collusion. Only suggestions. This is, nonetheless, all part of the investigation that has been taking months and which shows little sign of being resolved in the short term, thus continuing to damage both forces.

The circumstances differ. Where Navarro is concerned, he was arrested and held in custody for some forty days and charged with corruption. The allegations centre on favours shown to certain businesses in Magalluf and harassment of rival businesses. He was released in October 2014 and has been replaced as head of Calvia's police force.

Mut faces charges of malfeasance and coercion. He was taped by another officer, the "honest" one, Antonio Ramis. That recording included an admission of altering evidence but also one of having done so under pressure from political superiors. He was eventually dismissed by the current town hall administration for "disobedience". He was succeeded by Morey who, a few months into his post, launched an astonishing attack on the judge, the anti-corruption prosecutor and the councillor for public safety, Angelica Pastor. While he appeared to offer a defence of certain officers who had been charged, he also brought into question the investigation, implying political motivations, and indeed the competence of officials, such as Pastor. His position was obviously untenable.

The cases go beyond allegations against police officers. Politicians are involved as well. Pastor's predecessor, Guillem Navarro, has been implicated, as have the former deputy mayor, Alvaro Gijón, and the president of the Partido Popular in Palma, José María Rodríguez. The latter is scheduled to appear before Judge Penalva tomorrow. Of evidence against him that has been leaking out are statements from members of the elite GAP (preventive action) unit in Palma which allege that he was instrumental in drafting in officers from Manacor who were to form a unit dedicated to the PP.

The charges against police officers in Palma - currently in custody or at liberty - include some extremely serious ones. Against the backdrop of arrests and the Penalva/anti-corruption prosecutor investigation, the town hall is remodelling the police force, just as it is being overhauled in Calvia. The belief is that restructuring and strengthened lines of reporting will prevent the types of allegations that have occurred from being repeated. They may well do, but in terms of practical application on the ground, how well are the police forces performing? There are complaints in Magalluf and Playa de Palma about a continuation of ineffective policing. Is restructuring merely political window-dressing that doesn't help the police because of lack of resources?

The political dimension cannot be ignored, whether it is the competence of political officials or their own corrupt practices (allegedly). In the case of Joan Mut, he himself took over from Antonio Vera, who was forced to resign because of involvement in the rigging of police promotion exams. (This was what in fact started the whole police corruption ball rolling.) While Mut does face charges, what does one make of his suggestion of there having been pressure from political superiors? Should there be some sympathy, if this were proved to be the case? No, you might say, he should have resigned. But a resignation has to be approved by political superiors.

There have unquestionably been major police failures in both Palma and Calvia. That these may have involved only a relatively limited number of officers does not eradicate feelings of a lack of confidence. The time that the investigations are dragging on do not help either. Where Calvia is concerned, we only now hear of Navarro's suspension. Are the police being failed, therefore, by a slow-moving judicial process and by politicians both past and present? Calvia (and Palma) have made repeated statements about improvements to forces, and yet the complaints persist, though in Calvia's defence, it should be noted that criticisms from the PP opposition have the distinct flavour of pot calling the kettle black. Above all, though, there is the suggestion of political involvement in police corruption. If so, were the police failed by politicians? Who were the instigators? Judge Penalva, albeit slowly, is finding out.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 24 August 2016

Morning high (5.50am): 20.5C
Forecast high: 29C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 25 August - Sun, 29C; 26 August - Sun, 28C; 27 August - Sun, 28C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East-Northeast 3 to 4.

Sun. Light breezes. Need anything else?

Evening update (20.15): High of 31.9C.

The "Sport" Of Holiday Compensation Claims

How many of you reading this are either at an all-inclusive hotel or have been to one? And by all-inclusive, I'm tending towards excluding those which display four or even five stars. Why would I do this? Principally, and do please excuse the generalisation, the three-star all-inclusive might typically house a clientele that is most interested in the pursuit of compensation.

If you are and have been at an all-inclusive, and it does seem to apply mostly to all-inclusives, you may have been aware of some of the individuals who seem to hang around. They can be found inside hotel grounds and on hotel property as well as outside. Security in many a hotel is lax to the point of non-existent.

These individuals can include, inter alia, illegal street sellers. They move in from the streets and inhabit poolside and other areas. How on earth is this allowed to happen? Reasons, one in particular, have been offered to me. I'm not, it has to be said, convinced by allegations that "incentives" are offered to turn a blind eye. The street sellers just don't have that kind of wherewithal, albeit their masters may have. Even then, I frankly doubt it.

There are sellers of a different sort. They don't come armed with fake products (or drugs). They don't want any money as such. They are armed instead with claims' forms, either actual ones or available from websites. They are representatives of one of the most miserable, ethically reprehensible and morally bankrupt lines of business that exists in the holiday market. They come from law firms lining up to press compensation claims. The legal profession ethical? Most of it is, but there are also elements of it who - as the old gag would have it - would fail to distinguish between ethics and a county in eastern England.

The claiming of compensation, often for minor matters or perhaps even trumped up, is nothing new of course, but as a "business" it has more tools at its disposal - social networks - than were generally the case over five years ago when I previously looked into it. The circumstances as they were then have not altered, save for the seemingly greater determination to seek to extract compensation. They are principally of British making, involve British law firms and tour operators and British tourists from a culture that has been consumed by the pernicious influence of what was once mainly promoted at appropriate times on UK television and radio but which has now spread to social media.

The hotels are almost invariably the victims. Hard though it may be for some to feel sorry for them - and there are examples of their being their own worst enemies - the hotels are caught by contractual arrangements with tour operators and by the massive costs of challenging claims, which themselves will typically be greatly in excess of what a Spanish court might permit: there are caps under Spanish law but aren't under UK law. And it is UK law and UK courts which decide. It simply isn't worth hotels making challenges. Instead, they find that arrangements with tour operators are such that claims levelled against tour operators are deducted from the invoices the hotels send to the tour operators.

Hotels complain that tour operators are far too compliant in accepting claims. They are, after all, in a better position to fight claims in court, but generally tend not to, challenging only the obviously fraudulent attempts, such as trying to claim for something at a hotel that the holidaymaker had not been staying at.

This is an issue which doesn't affect only Mallorca. It is one that is evident in all the sun-and-beach regions where there is a mass of British tourism - Benidorm, Tenerife and elsewhere. Hosteltur magazine online reports that Ashotel, which is the association for hoteliers in Tenerife as well as in La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro, has sent out a communication to its members in which it identifies one particular firm in north-west England as allegedly encouraging British tourists to press claims for the likes of food poisoning. Hosteltur also reports that Tui and Jet2 are making hotels aware of individuals who are knocking around hotels looking for likely claimants, with law firms operating on a no win, no fee basis.

There are, of course, genuine cases and very serious ones, such as claims against Thomson by holidaymakers who contracted cryptosporidium at a hotel in Can Picafort in June 2003 and which took until January 2011 to be settled. But many are anything but reasonable; they are what the tourism industry in Mallorca refers to as the "sport" of the holiday compensation claim, and one played principally by the British.

Coming back to those loitering around hotels, perhaps some holidaymakers will claim for the annoyance caused by illegal sellers. As I say, some hotels are their own worst enemies.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 23 August 2016

Morning high (5.46am): 21.2C
Forecast high: 29C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 24 August - Sun, 29C; 25 August - Sun, 28C; 26 August - Sun, 29C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 3 to 4 easing East 3 by the afternoon.

Just looking like it's sun all the way today and for the rest of the week, I'm afraid.

Evening update (20.15): High of 31.8C.

And The Sustainable Tourism Winner Will Be?

The night of 26 September will be "la Noche del Turismo". Yes, the night of tourism. For one night only. It'll be on the eve of World Tourism Day. One day only. They quite like celebrating World Tourism Day in Mallorca. One day only, albeit Alcudia has its own not-the-world tourist day this Thursday (it's a half day in fact).

At least a World Tourism Day at the end of September gives Cala Millor the opportunity to have its tourist fiesta week, a rather longer celebration of tourism than anywhere else indulges in. One day only normally. Oh well, so much for lengthening the tourist season, let's just reduce it to one day (and the preceding night).

This night of tourism is an innovation - yes, there is one - by the tourism ministry. It was being mentioned last week when minister Barceló was making one of his now regular proclamations about sustainability and saturation. Alongside him was the director of the Balearic Tourism Agency, Pere Muñoz, an old mate but also political sparring partner of Barceló's and about whom a certain degree of surprise was expressed when he was given the job. There was something about him having run the car park at Lluc Monastery.

We haven't heard a great deal from Pere since he was appointed in February when the previous incumbent, Miquel Àngel Roig, quit because he was offered something better. Recently, however, Pere has emerged, a brother-in-arms to the sustainable tourism minister. Ostensibly, the agency is the wing of the ministry devoted to promoting the Balearics. This it does by, among other things, flying off to Rutland in order to explain to the twitcher community how a whole load of crappy water ended up covering a vast part of one of the islands' principal birdlife locations, thus rendering it - if only temporarily - unsustainable. Otherwise, it hasn't yet been acquainted with the other part of the sustainable tourism minister's portfolio - innovation and research. We might have expected that another mate of Barceló's having been made director for this would have been able to marry innovation of, say, a social network variety to the promotion of the islands. As yet, nada, but oddly no one seems to be asking what this director is doing.

Pere, meanwhile, seems to have been hard at it developing promotion of an inward variety. Thus, the citizenry is being informed about sustainable tourism. On the principle that you state the word often enough, the public will go along with it, even if the public hasn't a clue what it means. Or rather, it gets to understand what the sustainable tourism minister wants sustainability to mean.

And now we have another type of inward promotion. The glittering night of stars that is to be the night of tourism is designed to cover a multitude of virtues. Here are the five categories of award: knowledge and research applied to tourism; the best social responsibility initiative; the best sustainable tourism initiative; tourism work, effort and professional dedication; the tourist "experience".

These are all to be in recognition of ways in which Balearic tourism and its tourism services are being improved within a framework of corporate social responsibility (both public and private), of innovation in creating new experiences, and of the sustainability of the tourism product in the Balearics. In a nutshell, the awards encapsulate Barceló's brief as minister. The night of tourism could equally be called the Biel night of tourism.

So, who might be among the runners and riders? Nominations close today, suggesting that we will shortly be informed, offering Biel (and Pere) a further opportunity to go public with the incessant sustainability (saturation) theme. Who, one wonders, are on the judging panel (have Podemos been consulted)? Perhaps they will be revealed as well, but whoever they are, one can possibly guess at the type of winner to eventually be announced and at the type of winner that most certainly won't be announced.

Of the latter, we can anticipate that innovators such as Airbnb won't be getting anywhere near an award let alone be invited. But among the winners? Might they, for instance, include Palma 365 or Calvia town hall? Palma 365 would be worthy. Calvia wouldn't be. Where else might get a look-in beyond the political expedience which decrees that Palma and Calvia head the lists? Menorca with its biosphere, roundly criticised for never having been effectively promoted? The Tramuntana, likewise criticised for promotional failure? 

How about the regulatory councils for wine, oil and food products? All sustainable and all supposedly part of the wider concept of gastronomy that will extend the season. Gongs for sobrassada and ensaimadas maybe? The tourism agency seems incapable of seeing beyond a type of sausage and a pastry when it comes to gastronomy promotion, so quite possibly.

We are about to find out.

Monday, August 22, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 22 August 2016

Morning high (6.34am): 20.6C
Forecast high: 28C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 23 August - Sun, 29C; 24 August - Sun, 28C; 25 August - Sun, cloud, 28C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North 4 to 5 occasionally 6. Swells to two metres.

May be a bit blowy from the north today. Otherwise fine and sunny. Week ahead looking good.

Evening update (20.00): High of 31C.

Mariano In The Clouds

By my calculation and at the rate of one every six months, there will have been a total of eight pointless general elections by the time things get round to what should be the general election to decide the next general election. Confused? You have every right to be. As the current legislature (non-functioning, acting, caretaking, call it what you want) should extend until the end of 2019, there is ample time for them to have had eight elections in all. I can only but hope that this is what transpires. What a fabulous achievement it would be to go through the entire period of a legislature without a result. I feel we should all be cheering them on. Come on fellas (and ladies), you can do it. Do it for Spain. Bravo! Olé! There goes another failed election. Only another five to go.

This is what you get in an era of "new politics" in Spain, characterised by the emergence of a couple of upstarts like Churches and the little C of the C's (respectively Pablo and Albert). The new politics in fact mean no politics; or none that involve actually forming a government that is. As a consequence, Super Mariano can have his wish granted to continue ad infinitum: Honorary Life Prime Minister (President) forever.

I know it would spoil the fun of there being an election every six months, but why doesn't Mazza put a stop to the whole thing by decreeing that all political parties apart from the PP are to be banned? That way there wouldn't need to be the inconvenience of elections. As he's already confirming himself as PM (president) for life, just announce he's going to be a dictator. I mean, it's not as though there haven't been precedents, and Mazza's the only one of the Four Great Leaders who is ancient enough to remember the good old days of political assassination and packing dissidents off to labour camps. Plus, he does of course come from Galicia. And we all know who else came from Galicia.

On balance it's probably unlikely that Super would take such a bold step, meaning - with any luck - that we can indeed have our eight elections to be followed by a ninth with a similar outcome. Mazza, meanwhile, has signalled that there may be some innovation to come with these elections. The next one, he has suggested, could be held on Christmas Day. Why not opt for Christmas Eve and shift the polling booths to churches? There wouldn't be any Podemos sorts voting if they were expected to enter a church that wasn't one of their glorious leader. It would be a PP landslide. Mind you, a Christmas Eve or even a Christmas Day election would cause havoc with the King's address to the nation, to say nothing of his family holidays. Again.

While the royal jollies in Majorca were disrupted because the King was forced to have go through the motions related to the last failed election, someone who was having his own jollies was Mariano. As an alternative to last year's photo opp of swimming in some river in Galicia, Super took himself off to a place called Babia in León. "Here I feel at home," he told reporters. "Being in Babia is one of the things I like most."

Which would be all well and good if it weren't for the fact that the phrase "estar en Babia" is an idiom to mean having one's head in the clouds. So what fantasies was Mazza dreaming up in Babia? Who can possibly tell? Was his arrival in Babia evidence of a divorcing from reality? PSOE's Antonio Pradas insisted that Mariano should get his head out of the clouds forthwith as the little C of the C's had a proposal on the table. It was, by the way, reassuring to note that Pradas didn't have his head in the clouds and was speaking in Benalmadena, so down with the general tourist hordes and avoiding any Irish hitmen who happened to be on the loose.

When Mariano finally re-emerged, Albert's proposal of some form of governmental marriage seemed possible and then not possible. Which has been the story ever since the first election. On it goes. Here's to all those further elections.