It came right down to the wire, but in the end, it was the right wing PP party that convinced socialist PxE councillor, Joan Torres, to defect from the left and join them in governing San Antonio for the next four years. With the support of PxE and Ciudadanos, the fresh new face of the PP party in San Antonio, Marcos Serra, was sworn in as Mayor last Saturday. While the PP party hemorrhaged 50% of its seats in recent national elections, in Ibiza, they bucked the national trend by securing three of the islands five municipality mayorships along with the important island council, underlining the eccentricity of Ibiza politics.
The socialist PSOE party, who govern Spain under its Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, hold the majority of Mayorships in the autonomous province of the Balearic islands, with 25 Mayorships compared to PP’s 17. The relationship between Ibiza and its administrative capital Palma, which remains under PSOE control, has always been an estranged one ever since the Spanish administrative reform of 1977 – a real Springfield vs Shelbyville type synergy that encouraged Ibiza to protect its own interests and not to rely so much on outside help. That same parochial resilience which is ingrained in the islands culture, was evident this week in San Antonio, where an unlikely alliance of one left and ten right wing candidates, is now in Government. So what will the political change mean for the town of San Antonio?
One of the big issues campaigned on during the election was the highly contentious West End situation, which suffered severe restrictions and sound protection orders under its previous socialist government. Local businessman, Martin Makepeace, a British born PP member, led the ex-pat brigade that was highly critical of the damage it was doing to their businesses and campaigned to oust the socialist coalition that introduced the tough laws – Joan Torres being a member of that coalition. Torres has publically reaffirmed his commitment to the contentious sound protection order that surrounds a number of streets in the West End, while Marcos Serra has stated he wants a more relaxed licencing agenda with extended terrace opening hours past the current restrictive midnight closure, which has resulted in a dramatic decline of tourists in the West End.
While the PP party in Ibiza has its faults, its well known for getting things done and has some well connected allies in big business – the Matutes family being one of its traditional supporters in Ibiza. At this stage in San Antonio, everybody is aware that the resort requires a new image with increased inward investment and flexible laws that encourage development and progress – something the previous socialist government were slow to implement due to infighting and some shady licencing deals around Cala Gracio. While some of his voters may not forgive him, Joan Torres in the end sided with the fresh impetus and drive Serra displayed during his campaign to deliver a new dawn for the people of San Antonio. With the networking business connections of his party on the island, it’s a result that promises much for San Antonio and we wish him and his new government all the best of luck during the next four years.