“A week is a long time in politics“ – this phrase is attributed to former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Due to the fast changing pace of the political landscape, the fortunes of a politician or political group can change drastically just in the course of a single week and this is very true when you look at the goings on at San Antonio town hall over the last 7 days.
For those who find Ibiza local politics confusing or unintelligible let me try and break it down in a simple and (hopefully) balanced way.
First let’s start with Aida Alcaraz from the socialist PSOE party who is the current councillor for town security, responsible for police and trying to tackle crime on the streets of San Antonio.
Upon assuming office in June 2015 Sra Alcaraz installed Angeles Gallardo as ‘head of security’ at the local police force to try and shake things up. Sra Gallardo took over the day to day running of the local police, using the police chiefs office to do so. Javier Verdugo, the chief of police then accused Sra Alcaraz of undermining him and took her to court claiming workplace harassment saying he was frozen out of important meetings and wasn’t invited to special events.
Sr Verdugo won the subsequent court case and now Aida Alcaraz has personally been charged with the crime under employment law with prosecutors seeking a year in prison, although even if she was found guilty she wouldn’t serve any time under Spain’s complicated legal system.
The current PSOE code of ethics states that if a councillor is charged with a crime then they must resign immediately and fight to clear their name. Aida Alcaraz has refused to resign and has been strongly supported by her coalition council colleagues and her political party at Balearic level who argue that the resignation rule refers to corruption whereas this case is a straightforward power struggle between a police chief stuck in his ways and a councillor wanting to shake things up to achieve results. The court case continues and Sra Alcaraz has stated that she will not run for council in the next elections.
Now let’s turn to Cristiana Ribas who was elected as a councillor representing the ‘Propesta per las Illes’ (PI) party.
Spanish municipal elections use a proportional representational model, the electorate vote for a specific party who put forward a list of names, 21 names in the case of San Antonio. The votes are counted and then if you have enough votes you assume a seat on the council.
In 2015 (in which I ran as PP councillor) the right wing PP won 8 seats, the socialist PSOE won 6 seats and the left wing Reinicia party surprised a lot of people and won 4 seats. In San Antonio you require a majority of 11 seats to assume control of the council.
The centre right PI party won 3 seats in 2015 thus becoming the power broker and it was down to them to decide which coalition would run San Antonio town hall for the next 4 years. Their historic animosity with the PP party saw them choose to join forces with PSOE/Reinicia forming San Antonio’s first ever 3-way coalition government.
Last week the hard-working Cristina Ribas announced that after a lot of soul-searching she had decided to leave the PI party and become an independent councillor staying within the government team to complete the full term but because she was voted for as a PI party candidate this has caused a dilemma. The San Antonio coalition was a signed pact based on 13 unified councillors from 3 different unified parties.
The PI party has now given the Mayor until the end of January to resolve the impasse saying that as Sra Ribas isn’t a member of the party that was voted into office then she should resign so they can install another one of their members on to the council.
San Antonio Mayor Jose Tur Cires has hit back in the press saying “he doesn’t respond well to threats” and it doesn’t make sense to install a new councillor with only 4 months to go before elections.
Adding fuel to the fire is the pact that exists between all parties (which is delightfully called ‘anti-transfuguismo’) not allowing council members to join other parties whilst sitting on the council. Ribas insists that she will remain independent although it has been reported that she has been offered a place on the PSOE list for the May elections.
There are no winners in this story but it’s a good snapshot of what’s been happening over the last week and today’s monthly council meeting promises to be a tasty affair with the opposition poised to jump on all the negative headlines.