2nd Mar 2023 @ 12:10 pm

Local elections take place throughout Spain on 28th May, and will dictate how Lanzarote is governed for the next four years. Over the next months, we’ll be talking to key figures from the three main parties on the island, starting with Jacobo Medina, the PP’s candidate for Cabildo President.

At 35 years of age, Jacobo Medina will be one of the youngest candidates on the island, but his youth hasn’t stopped him reaching the highest level of island politics. He’s the Secretary General of Lanzarote’s branch of the Partido Popular (PP), Spain’s closest equivalent to the British Conservatives, and held the title of Public Works Minister and Cabildo Vice President during the first years of the current legislature. We met him at the Gran Hotel in Arrecife.

What have the PP achieved on Lanzarote in the last four years?

Currently we’re in opposition in the Cabildo, but until November 2021 we were part of the ruling group and, of course, much of that time was spent under the pandemic. We helped develop Lanzarote Covid Safe, which was an innovative project that helped the island recuperate valuable tourism.

As Minister for Public Works I worked on a lot on the improvements that we’re seeing the results of now, such as the new and renovated roads all over the island, including those in Nazaret and Tabayesco. When the PP are in power, you notice.

What are the obstacles holding Lanzarote back?

The main problem is the lack of a viable Island Plan. We’re still working with a plan dating from 1991 that is more than 30 years old. The Cabildo President has thrown another proposed plan in the bin, but winning an absolute majority would free us to push a new plan through.

What about the current tourism strategy?

On that we’re in agreement that the island should pursue quality over quantity. But claiming that the island is “saturated” at a tourism fair, as the Cabildo’s President did recently, is damaging.

How about renewable energies?

Opportunities have not been taken. We could be pioneers in this area and be moving towards an island that is 100% renewable, but we should have started that 20 years ago.

We’d make it easier for wind farms and solar energy parks to establish themselves on the island, and we’d also like to change the public transport contracts on the island, which have not been updated for years.

Why did the PP form a pact with the Socialists to govern the Cabildo and Arrecife in 2019? Was it part of a strategy to remove the Coalición Canaria (CC) from power?

No. We’ve worked with the CC in the past, but they have also tended to treat the PP like a junior partners. In 2019 we sought an agreement with the Socialists that would work in the general interest, and this resulted in the breaking of a hegemony.

How successfully do you think the pandemic was managed on Lanzarote and the Canaries?

That was mostly out of our hands, although we were involved in security aspects such as the evacuation of tourists following the lockdown. What was necessary was to use the opportunity that the lockdown provided to improve the island with public works.

We’ve criticized the failure to reactivate the economy immediately after the pandemic. We demanded easier hiring conditions, which have been rejected. For the PP, the best social policy is jobs.

No British or EU foreign national will be able to vote for you, as they are only allowed to vote at municipal level. What are your views on that?

Of course people who live here and contribute should be allowed to vote, but that’s a decision at national level, and unfortunately there’s been no movement for years.

How will the fortunes of the PP at a national level affect your chances in the elections?

Favourably, I believe. The PP is polling well at a national level, and a lot of that is due to the party’s leader, Alberto Nuñez Feijóo, who has brought two important qualities: First, experience – he’s ruled Galicia for four terms; and second, confidence. He looks like a leader and is seen as a safe pair of hands.

Lanzarote politics can seem bitter and partisan. What are relations really like between representatives of different parties?

Respectful, usually. Campaigning is one thing, but at the end of the day we all know we have to sit down and talk with each other.

In summary, why should voters place the PP slip in the ballot box?

Because we’re the party of good management, as has been shown by the work of Astrid Pérez in Arrecife and Pancho Hernández in Tías.

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