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Tuesday February 9, 2010

Another one bites the dust in Mallorcan corruption scandal

As if the corruption scandals engulfing Majorca just couldn’t get any worse, a series of fresh allegations and arrests have been made. Rather like a Brian Rix farce it’s becoming hard to remember who’s who in the regional government as new characters embrace the spotlight only to be booed and booted off stage, more often than not in handcuffs.

In the last two years the Balearic Islands have had no fewer than three tourism ministers –yes, I did say three- and this is a regional government for whom 85 percent of the economy is dependent on tourism. Two of these ministers left office with their tails firmly between their legs due to corruption allegations of one kind or another. As of today the third, the newly installed tourism minister, Miguel Ferrer, who has barely had time to locate his own office, has summarily been dismissed due to the misdemeanours of his political colleagues within the UM nationalist party.

The former tourism minister, Miquel Nadal, a UM implant in the left wing coalition, has just been arrested in Palma, accused of embezzling public funds, and two further UM ministers representing sport and the environment, have been arrested on corruption charges and sacked.

In despair, socialist Francesc Antich, president of the Balearic government,
has declared that he is now axing all UM ministers from the government and will shortly announce a new team. The Red Queen and Henry VIII combined couldn’t keep up with this level of head chopping. With the removal of team UM, the socialists no longer have a majority, and yet are calling the shots despite the conservative PP being the largest political party, gaining 47 percent of the vote at the last election.

With more than 100,000 unemployed and escalating economic problems, the last thing the Balearic government needs now is to lose its grip on tourism without which the islands will cease to function. The coalition has predictably proven to be an unmitigated disaster with a Pandora’s box of small left wing parties that have little in common.

Calling an election might be the only hope left, although whether the electorate will play ball is another matter. After all, the former president of the Balearic government, Jaume Matas of the Conservative PP party is still under police investigation on corruption charges. Who, in truth, is there left to trust?

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