Wednesday, July 26, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 26 July 2017

Morning high (6.29am): 22.5C
Forecast high: 29C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 27 July - Sun, 31C; 28 July - Sun, 32C; 29 July - Sun, 31C

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

Quite heavy cloud early giving way to a mostly sunny day. The slightly unsettled pattern of the past three days coming to an end.

Evening update (20.15): High of 29.1C. More cloud around than had been forecast. A couple of light showers.

Magalluf Gets A Bad Rap

Rap. It's been around long enough for, one would think, older members of society to remember their youth and remain aficionados of the art. But as time marches on, so musical tastes change. Rap, more than most genres, is youth music, especially given some of the posturing, the lyrics and the attitude.

In its ability to cross cultures, rap, I have always felt, has the capacity to appear ridiculous when white boys are performing it. Essentially a product of black, urban, American culture, it doesn't fit with other cultures. But such an analysis takes no account of how other genres crossed cultures. In the 1960s, the Americans rediscovered the blues and R&B courtesy of British groups. An American record label, Atlantic, was to have major worldwide hits with a white soul group - the Average White Band.

There has always been a cultural intermingling. And rap is no different. It is another form along the continuum of popular music globalisation. And global is how it is. There was no global in the days of rock 'n' roll or The Beatles. Communications technology transformed everything.

Mallorca has its rap. Famously, there is Valtonyc, still awaiting the outcome of the Supreme Court's sentence for insulting the crown, wishing harm on the King and various others, and apparently supporting ETA terrorism. Meanwhile, he turns up at different events, one of which will be in Arta this weekend as part of the town's fiestas.

The fiestas have their mix of music parties. There are those for the more mature members of the local community, which typically feature "orchestras" or "trios". Such groups carry an ominous threat. Not of course because they are in any way dangerous or edgy in a rap style, but because they are so depressingly middle of the road. Other parties, usually categorised as "jove", reflect the word in providing more youthful styles - punk, indie, metal, electronica, rap. Some of it can be quite good; some of it can be absolutely dire.

But such is the way with musical democratisation. Punk is said to have been the first expression of this, though the early skiffle groups were really the first. Musical ability wasn't a priority. With electronica, anyone with a creative flair, a good imagination and the right kit (generally speaking not expensive) can make music. Likewise rap doesn't demand an intimate knowledge of instrumentation. Quite the contrary. Sampling provides all that's needed. Plus a stream of lyrical consciousness conveyed with the appropriate gestures, postures and vocal.

The essence of rap is the lyric. The message is all important. Or at least, in its purest form, this is the case. In Calvia, there is a rap group who recently won the Musicalvia contest. They're called Tabú and are a duo - Yerroh and Nilo - embellished by a DJ/electronica producer who is somewhat older than them and goes by the name of Franbass. 

Tabú have released a short video on YouTube. Its title is Punta Ballena. The video includes clips of fights, of balconing, sex and medics attending to victims. According to the group, they are "street people" taking their rap to the street in highlighting the problems of their neighbours. They will be undertaking musical projects of protest, denunciation and social message.

The rap includes lines such as (with modified translation): "This Molotov cocktail is composed of sex, drugs, alcohol. As they have been for many years, no solution. Punta Ballena is outside the system."

The timing of the video - it was published on YouTube at the weekend - might seem somewhat curious. Just a short time after winning an award with the support of Calvia town hall, Tabú have stung this very administration in suggesting that no solution has been applied to the problems of Magalluf (and Punta Ballena in particular). There again, it isn't so curious. For all the efforts being made, there is evidence of backtracking with the likes of bar crawls and little intervention to prevent them, contrary to town hall bylaws.

At the weekend there was a report of yet another Friday night. Of tourists (British possibly) having passed out because of excessive drinking. Yet here we are in late July, a time when the tourist profile supposedly changes. It is persistent, just as it is in Playa de Palma.

Tabú are criticising this type of tourism, but they are also criticising the permissiveness of administrations. No one, they say, has dared to get a grip, because the interests of a few are more important than those of the people who live there and suffer from the problems.

Rap. The message is all important. And in this instance so are the images. Punta Ballena is not especially remarkable in terms of its musical quality, but it packs a powerful message. It deserves to be seen and heard.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 25 July 2017

Morning high (7.02am): 23.7C
Forecast high: 28C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 26 July - Cloud, sun, 28C; 27 July - Sun, 29C; 28 July - Sun, 31C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 4 to 5 easing East 3 in the afternoon. Swells at times to two metres.

Some fairly heavy cloud first thing. Should break up, with only a low risk of any rain. Overnight there could be showers, but they'll be hoping in Alcudia that these aren't at midnight for the pyromusical spectacular climax to the Sant Jaume fiestas.

Evening update (20.45): High of 28.8C. Cloud stayed around in the morning. A few spots of dirty rain. Sunny spells as well.

Japanese In Sixteenth Century Alcudia

The Portuguese are credited with having been the first Europeans to have genuine contact with Japan. In 1543, Portuguese ships arrived at the island of Tanegashima. It would seem that the Japanese were somewhat taken aback by these Europeans. They ate with their fingers rather than with chopsticks and they couldn't understand written characters. The culture clash was immense. The Portuguese were to come to be known as "nanban": southern barbarians. It wasn't long before all Europeans were given this title.

By that time in the sixteenth century, there was intense rivalry among the Spanish, Portuguese, English and Dutch to take control of trade routes. In the Far East, the Spanish were in a rather better position to do so than others. The Philippines were to prove to be an important base for trade with China and other Far-Eastern countries, albeit that the Portuguese dominated China-Japan trade for a time. As important as trade was religion. In 1549, a Jesuit missionary, Francisco Xavier, arrived in Japan. He was already experienced in spreading the Catholic faith. He had done so in Portuguese occupied India. He was responsible for Goa having the Inquisition.

The Spanish, with trade as much as religion and global power in mind, for a brief while contemplated armed invasion of Japan. Felipe II was to heed advice (from Francisco Xavier) that this might not be such a great idea. The Japanese, he was informed, were very warlike. Defeat was all that Spain could expect. The advice was very sensible.

So the Spanish settled instead on a strategy of trying to foster good relations, exploiting their pivotal Manila System of trade. The advance of Catholicism, though it did advance, wasn't to be as successful in Japan as it had been in Portuguese territories. For one thing, the Japanese struggled with the notion of equality of all men before God; their caste system simply didn't fit such a philosophy. To try and get round this, a comparison was made between hierarchies. The emperor and the shogun were equated to the pope and the king in terms of, respectively, divine roots and earthly justice.

Another Jesuit, Alessandro Valignano of Naples, arrived in Japan on this day (25 July) in 1579. It may have been a coincidence, but the significance would have been recognised: the feast of Saint James - Santiago, whose remains lay in Compostela. Valignano was the Jesuit inspector (or visitor) of all Jesuit missions stretching from Goa to Japan. He hit on the idea of bringing Japanese boys, taught by the Jesuits, to Europe. His reasoning was twofold. It would raise awareness of Japan among European elites and it would impress upon the Japanese the glory of Christian religion.

This has been described as a Tensho Embassy (Tensho referring to the Japanese era of that time). It wasn't in fact a formal embassy, though the Europeans took it to be. There was, however, some official element. Two of the four boys, all aged around fourteen when they left Japan, were representatives of Christian feudal lords. The boys, each with a European Christian name - Mancio, Michael, Julian and Martin - left Nagasaki in 1582. They finally arrived in Lisbon in 1584 and returned to Nagasaki in 1590.

This Thursday (27 July) in Alcudia, the Via Fora performance of scenes from the town's history (the second of this summer's series) includes one about the Tensho Embassy. In 1585, while travelling from Alicante to Rome, the boys and their delegation stopped off in Alcudia. Quite what the boys made of Alcudia is anyone's guess. Compared with other places they went to in Spain, Portugal and Italy, Alcudia would have been somewhat less representative of the glory of Christian religion than others. Nevertheless, it was at that time something of a bastion of the Holy Roman Empire in Mallorca, having been made a city - only the second one after Palma. Carlos I of Spain, also Carlos V, the Holy Roman Emperor, had granted Alcudia the title of "most faithful city of the emperor" because of the defiance of the Germanies uprising of 1521.

As to what happened to the boys, well on this day (25 July) in 1591, this time not a coincidence, they were fully admitted to the Jesuit society. But their fates were not to be entirely blessed. Mancio died in 1612, Martin left Japan in 1614, Michael quit the Jesuit order and may well have joined a Buddhist sect. Julian suffered the worst fate. He defied the 1614 order for all Christians to leave Japan. There was repression because of alarm at the influence of Christianity. He was eventually arrested, tortured and martyred.

* Photo: Via Fora, credit Ajuntament de Alcudia Facebook.

Monday, July 24, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 24 July 2017

Morning high (7.00am): 23.1C
Forecast high: 31C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 25 July - Cloud, 28C; 26 July - Cloud, sun, 28C; 27 July - Sun, 29C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East 2 to 3 veering South around midday.

Expect things to be similar to yesterday, i.e. fairly cloudy at times. Tomorrow is forecast to be solidly cloudy with possible showers.

Evening update (20.15): High of 32.7C. Some cloud, especially this morning, but ok.

Out Of Africa: Balearic Environmental Protection

There is no more environmentally correct politician in the Balearics than the government's jolly Enviro Man, Vince Vidal. Vince, who has spent a large part of his time as minister figuring out how to fit car parks into the Es Trenc nature park, has somewhat amplified the Balearic environmental brief. Unbeknownst to other ministers and the citizens, Vince had decided to extend fraternal environmental concern to parts of Kenya and Ethiopia and a good chunk of the Indian Ocean.

All of this - it was revealed - is included in the Es Trenc park, which will doubtless come as a surprise to beachgoers who are more concerned with the desperate hunt for a refreshing chiringuito beach bar. (Their refreshment needs are, it needs pointing out, being satisfied by altruistic illegal sellers, who have spied an opportunity.)

What had happened was that Vince, or someone at the ministry, had got the latitudes and longitudes wrong. Hence, the draft of the nature park's law included part of Africa. Fortunately, someone else at a different ministry - the presidency - spotted the fact that Es Trenc had mysteriously been relocated several thousand kilometres south. This was just as well, because the nature park law was on the cusp of being posted to the Official Bulletin, which means that it comes into force. It would have become legal reality, but in the wrong place and indeed wrong continent.

In the spirit of the holiday rentals' legislation fiasco, the government would still have been able to rectify the error by, for instance, issuing a decree re-establishing Es Trenc as part of Mallorca. But the cock-up hardly inspired confidence. As was commented - this is a government that wants to manage the airport? Yes, this is the same government, with Palma airport where Palma airport shouldn't be and renamed Jomo Kenyatta de Mallorca.

But was it really an error? With administrations such as Palma and Calvia town halls having demonstrated their inabilities to deal with certain matters of law and order, can we look forward to other legislation acknowledging these inabilities and fraternally embracing Senegal and Nigeria?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 23 July 2017

Morning high (7.18am): 24.1C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 24 July - Sun, cloud, 31C; 25 July - Cloud, 27C; 26 July - Cloud, 28C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East 2 to 4.

Fine today, possible showers currently forecast for tomorrow through to Wednesday.

Evening update (20.00): Well, not so fine in that it was mostly cloudy all day. High of 31.4C.

The Drunken Meltdown Of Tourism

While millions of tourists were last week enjoying themselves in saturating every available last piece of beach, pool area and road, tourism itself was undergoing a form of meltdown. The vast majority of these massifying millions were in blissful ignorance of the fact that their apartments - some say the source of saturation - would no longer be there when they returned: they had been airbrushed into legalistic oblivion. This was probably due to most of them being drunk. Those who had some awareness were forming the queues of refugee hordes being processed for repatriation, more normally referred to as getting the flight home after the jollies.

Passport control collapsed (as it has been collapsing for some weeks) and tourists themselves collapsed as a consequence of 24/7 binges at all-inclusives. Nothing was said about beaches and roads collapsing as such, but we have by now come to accept that their collapses are givens: the politicians and the environmentalists keep telling us so.

Drunken tourism was at its most drunken inside Palma town hall. Drunk on his newly acquired powers, Noggin the Més Nog was wielding the mayoral wand in hot and determined pursuit of tourist miscreants. Can we expect him to join police patrols and slap a few Germans on their calves with his wand? Maybe, but given the size of some German tourists, the wand might come off second best.

Drinking was firmly on the agenda as he summonsed all manner of officialdom for a Noggy-style dressing-down. Hoteliers came and went, the national government's delegate was invited in for a chat, and they were preceded by the German consul, closely followed by the British vice-consul. Quite why Lucy was there was a bit of a mystery. It isn't unknown for Brits to avail themselves of the occasional alcoholic beverage in Playa de Palma, but let's be honest, when it comes to Palma drunken tourism the Germans are European champions - and by some considerable distance. It is they, rather than the Brits, who form vast Panzer divisions of Germanic youth armed to the teeth with colossal buckets of Jägermeister mixed with Rushkinoff as they re-introduce lebensraum, only this time at the Ballermann.

Maria Salom was Noguera''s final guest for the week (the tour operators are in for their wanding this coming week, which should be fun). As national government delegate, she's hardly the sort to be cowed by an upstart, new-to-the-post mayor.

So Maria was not about to be browbeaten by the wand. Instead, she somewhat surprisingly confessed that there is a security issue in Playa de Palma, i.e. it's overrun by drunken tourists. But, she was able to announce, this lack of security is being tackled by her having requested (and received) a month's extension to the National Police summer reinforcements. Which is all well and good, but Noguera was probably hoping to hear that there would be significantly greater numbers arriving - like now - in order to stop drunken tourists vomiting into Arenal residents' letterboxes.

Meanwhile, the meltdown - aided and abetted by tropical temperatures - was taking place in the air-conditioned debating hall of the Balearic parliament. Such was the drama of the occasion that some chose to dress for the occasion. Salvador Aguilera of Podemos, normally attired in an array of agitprop t-shirts, wore a tie (either borrowed or acquired from the charity shop). Prior to the meltdown debate, Salvi had tweeted that the government's holiday rentals' legislation was set to be blasted into the far blue yonder of the Mediterranean. Podemos were not for voting.

And once they didn't vote for a crucial article in the bill, no one, especially the government, had a clue what was going on. It was only when the lawyers pointed out that the government would be unable to collect the millions in fines' revenues from Airbnb and others that there was the shattering realisation of what had been done. Apart from apartments having been consigned to a Kafka-esque non-existence of neither authorisation nor prohibition, the revenue from the fines to have been earmarked for establishing illegal street sellers' cooperatives would evaporate. Complete meltdown. There was really only one thing to do: go and get drunk.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 22 July 2017

Morning high (7.02am): 22.7C
Forecast high: 33C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 23 July - Sun, cloud, 29C; 24 July - Sun, cloud, 29C; 25 July - Cloud, 28C

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

Steamy feel to the morning. Steamy day ahead.

Evening update (20.30): High of 34.4C.

The Absence Of Tourism Strategy

“I think it’s better to have those drinking ghettoes, Playa de Palma and Magalluf, where people go, rather than these intellectual types of tourists who tramp over everything in their search for the untouched bit, the original Mallorcan, and the residential tourists, who buy up property, buy a car, usually two, swimming pools, and want gardens with plants and grass like at home but that need water.”

Who said this? It might surprise you to learn that it was a spokesperson for the environmentalists GOB. These are the words of Gerard Hau, quoted from an article in The Guardian in May last year. They are words which encapsulate themes of recent days and weeks and point to different extremes of Mallorca's tourism. At one end of the spectrum is the low-grade drunken tourism and its vandalistic in-resort tendencies. At the other is the high-spending luxury class and its own vandalism of the countryside. Within the context of the furore over the holiday rentals' legislation, residential tourism in the countryside has been largely ignored, and by residential tourism one means second homes that are both for rent and just for use by owners.

Among their objections to the legislation, Podemos were determined to put an end to a savaging of the countryside in the pursuit of the up-market rental. Ideologically, one would expect them to, but otherwise they are on the same page as Gerard Hau. He, however, was going at the issue from a different perspective. At the time he was quoted, Mallorca was in the grip of drought (or at least near-drought). His concern was resources: water, in this instance.

The Hau thesis, coloured by an unnecessarily all-embracing pejorative attitude towards tourists of the mass who go to the principal resorts (only some of these tourists are drunks; the vast majority are not), echoes the philosophy enshrined in the so-called Benidorm Effect. Establish areas of high-density tourism and they are very much more efficient in terms of resource use. Spread tourism with little control into low-density or virtually uninhabited areas, and the resource use is highly inefficient.

For Podemos, there is an obsession with eliminating provisions in law that the Partido Popular introduced in 2012. The Delgado Law (the 2012 tourism act) facilitated touristic development on rustic land: the territory which doesn't have a satisfactory translation in English. Rural is inadequate. But whether from a politically ideological perspective or from economic or environmental perspectives, the arguments about countryside tourism, about drunken tourism, about holiday rentals in general all arrive at the same point. What does Mallorca want from its tourism? And what overall strategy is there for this?

The simple answer to the first question is the vague notion of quality. The word is so loose and woolly as to be meaningless. And who, let's face it, ever advocates tourism without quality?

There are degrees and grades of quality. It has long been known that in Mallorca there is a type of tourism I have described in the past as social-services tourism. This isn't anything to do with the winter, sometimes subsidised tourism for senior citizens. It has to do with the tourism that is provided with a social service by the island. It commonly pitches up in an all-inclusive, extracts the social service benefits on offer, and then disappears, quite probably clutching a false claim form. The net result for Mallorca is a loss.

The evidence of this type of tourism has existed in rigorous academic research for almost thirty years. The drunken tourism of today's headlines is the inheritor of the past. All that time - thirty years at least - and it still has the capacity to shock politicians (and others) out of their complacency.

The degrees of quality are such that the principal tourism market sector - the family - can be stigmatised for being insufficiently wealthy. This is not a social-services or drunken category, it is a normal, regular segment of the market which might choose an all-inclusive on economic grounds. If the offer is there, then why on Earth shouldn't it? There may not be enormous splashing of cash, but there are none of the behavioural negatives that are dogging Gerard Hau's "drinking ghettoes".

More than ever, the current arguments reinforce the fact that there is so little coherence in terms of a strategic approach. The rentals' legislation highlights this. There should of course be some greater liberalisation. Not a free-for-all but regulation that recognises market dynamics and, yes, can generally permit a tourism of "quality".

But political flip-flopping, competing ideologies and competing favouritism (be it to hoteliers, the environment, whatever) erect constant barriers while at the same time shifting the sands of regulation without adequate regard for joined-up strategy. The arguments, one fears, will be the same thirty years from now.

Friday, July 21, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 July 2017

Morning high (7.20am): 23.5C
Forecast high: 29C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 22 July - Sun, 33C; 23 July - Sun, cloud, 28C; 24 July - Sun, cloud, 29C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 2 to 4.

No sign of any rain overnight, and the morning is bright and sunny.

Evening update (20.30): A cloud and sun mix; high of 31.6C.

Mass Versus Quality: Hotel Jobs

Now here's an interesting point. Workers in the food and beverage sector - chefs, waiters and others - are willing to take jobs for lower salaries if the conditions are more to their liking. In other words, if a hotel (this mainly applies to hotels, but not exclusively) provides a working environment with a commitment to training, to high standards and good professional relations, it will attract talented personnel prepared to accept less money than they would receive at an establishment without these attributes.

The point is made by Antonio de Juan, who is the CEO of Talent Chef, a company which specialises in recruitment for the food and beverage sector. His words have been quoted in an article in Hosteltur magazine. It is a particularly interesting point, given the Balearic government's insistence on employment quality and salaries to match. In certain instances, it seems that workers will forego the quality salaries in preference to the quality employment: the government appears to have its work cut out in pairing the two.

De Juan's conclusion is that a tourism of the masses without quality has repercussions for the quality of personnel and for their availability. The matching of higher salaries and higher standards of employment can be found in some overseas countries. There is therefore a drain of talent from Mallorcan and Spanish hotels because of this.

A problem is, and it is another one that the government would like to deal with, creating tourism of the masses with quality. The notion can seem mutually exclusive. How do you retain mass and also ensure quality? It depends on how mass is defined, but in Mallorca the mass is increasing without a discernible impact on quality. This is the evidence, for instance, of hotels in Magalluf chucking out more badly behaved tourists than ever before. So long as tour operators and hotels operate according to principles of mass and volume, the situation is unlikely to change. The mayor of Calvia might plead with the providers of tourists, but he can't mandate what type of client is brought. This is the very point that the mayor of Alcudia has made regarding spring-break students, the cause - so it is said - of much of the Magalluf malaise this year. Town halls, regional governments have no power over this type of business decision.

One feels for people who work in some hotels in Mallorca. Chefs, who might earn decent money, churn out stuff for the masses. Their talent goes to waste. Their professional abilities are not reflected in their output. The same applies in the bar/restaurant sector.

Clearly, though, this doesn't apply across the board and also doesn't apply solely to the kitchens. One goes to somewhere like the Meliá Palma Bay Hotel and can witness the fine attention to detail and scrutiny in preparing tables. The quality of personnel extends to management. This same attention was evident in a tour of the five-star Palace de Muro Hotel. It was from the now director who, once upon a time, had been on the management at Bellevue in Alcudia. A very different place, during a tour there much time was spent picking up litter. A forlorn task, but at least there was a constant attempt at dealing with the downsides of mass all-inclusive tourism.

Mallorca has the means of developing talent. The university's Hotel and Catering School, to give one example, is where certain Michelin-starred chefs in Mallorca trained and received instruction. Some hotel chains have their own in-house training set-ups. Their commitment to quality has been exported. A reason for high standards elsewhere is the insistence on quality that characterises the likes of Iberostar.

But in Mallorca there is a vast gulf, which is the consequence of the diversity of hotels. In order to satisfy the masses, this is inevitable. So, one wonders if the mutually exclusive notion of mass and quality can ever be harmonised. One very much doubts it, and so there will be an enduring mismatch between the quality of salaries and employment.

The government, of course, is more concerned with an employment quality in terms of contracts: full-time, well-paid, adherence to strict working hours would be ideal. But it also concerned with the nature of jobs, given that they reflect the overall quality (or not) of the tourism offer. The hoteliers' federation is on the same page in this regard. It advocates quality without a loss of quantity. But what quality do they put first? The job or the pay? Is it both? In some cases, yes, but not all. The federation is set for a major scrap over pay negotiations next year. Unions are demanding that their profits go towards significant pay increases. If these are forced through, are passed on to already high hotel prices, have ever more tourist tax added, the mass part of the problem might well be solved.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 July 2017

Morning high (7.27am): 22.9C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 21 July - Sun, cloud, 29C; 22 July - Sun, cloud, 30C; 23 July - Sun, cloud, 29C

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

Bright start but expected to cloud over with the possibility of some rain, especially this evening.

Evening update (19.45): High of 32.1C. Fairly cloudy now.

Holiday Rentals: The Charade Exposed

So, after all the build-up to the holiday rentals' legislation, we remain - or rather, apartments remain - more or less where they were: in legal no man's land. One of the government's key legislative initiatives is a greater shambles than it had appeared that it would be. It was never going to be easy to cobble together satisfactory legislation, but the result is ever further from satisfaction. Apartments, as far as tourism law is concerned, only now exist in the form of an "habitual dwelling". Otherwise, technically they have been airbrushed from the real-estate landscape.

For all the talk of fines, the level of which are hardly any surprise and mirror penalties elsewhere in Spain, of the age of property eligible to be holiday lets, of the zoning of these lets, etc., the core of this legislation was apartments. While the 2012 tourism law keeps being quoted, apartments have been on the legal periphery for very much longer. The time had come for there to be a more definitive status. The time has come and all that is definite is that nothing is definite.

The government (PSOE and Més) is mightily angered. It will, as it typically does, place a political sheen over events in defending the pact with Podemos. But it has suffered a major assault and for a "stellar" piece of legislation, to boot. Podemos bared their teeth and, unlike with previous last-minute wobbles, they were prepared to be wolves. There was no pretence this time.

Podemos had always wanted to prevent the possibility of opening up holiday rentals in apartments. Their ploy of the call for "emergency housing" in Palma and Ibiza was a strategic move to disguise the real intention: the prevention of apartment touristic letting. The government's anger is made that much greater because this legislation has been so complex and so long in the making. When it came to the time to vote, Podemos cuddled up to the Partido Popular. While Podemos were citing citizen rights to housing, the PP were remembering their friends at the hoteliers' federation.

It is said that the government had attempted to persuade Podemos to stay onside by agreeing that the forthcoming housing law would complement the rentals' legislation. Podemos were having none of that, although there is obvious sense in joining up these two legislative strands. But to do so in a totally coherent fashion would demand a different legislative approach. As it is, housing is housing; tourist accommodation is tourist accommodation, even if it is housing. Toni Reus of Més pointed this out to Podemos. The rentals' legislation was neither a housing bill nor an urban planning act.

Out of the mess we nevertheless have a curious situation whereby apartments can be eligible for licensed authorisation. This is if they are owners' "habitual dwellings". This is if these dwellings are in the right zones (which will now take a year to determine). This is if residents' communities give a majority favourable vote (Podemos are still agitating for a unanimous vote). This is if these dwellings are up to the required standards. This is if they are at least five years old (and Podemos want to make this ten).

Agreement for habitual dwellings is apparently a nod in the direction of the reality of the collaborative economy at its most basic level. A family - they always refer to families in a somewhat mystical style - that needs to add some income will be able to do so. But only for a maximum of sixty days a year.

What is it with these habitual dwellings? Will families uproot themselves for the whole of July and August? Presumably they will. Or would. Where do they go? Rent out someone else's habitual dwelling? Or do they go to one of their other dwellings? How many other dwellings do they have?

The legislative process, you may or may not be surprised to learn, has not finished. There will now be "developments" of the legislative detail. Tourism minister Biel Barceló referred to these in hinting that apartments could be salvaged, i.e. be specifically subject to the same rules as other properties for holiday rental. But so long as Podemos have anything to do with the legislation, his muted optimism appears misplaced.

All this does is exacerbate the confusion and uncertainties. These developments could also entail, if Podemos get their way, the likes of properties having to be a minimum of ten years old.

Laws, one always hopes, are designed to create certainties. This legislation does not. It is a dreadful mess. Ultimately, though, the mess has only so much to do with holiday rentals. There are the politics which hover above. Podemos have claimed victory, one to be milked for all it's worth in appealing to the housing-deprived citizenry. It is a victory which finally and transparently exposes the charade of the Armengol pact.