Porto Cristo has had different spellings and names. | Archive


In 1989, the University of the Balearic Islands' department of Catalan philology and general linguistics published a list of toponyms in the Balearics - place names. For those who continue to insist that a part of the Calvia municipality should be two words, sorry but the university confirmed 34 years ago that Palma Nova was Palmanova. And it still is.

But it's not as if the university, considered to be the keeper of all things of a toponymic nature, cannot change its mind. Take Portocristo, for example. In 1989, it was one word or it was alternatively known (officially) as Port de Manacor. Setting aside the claims of Port de Manacor and also of Cala Manacor and Colònia de Nostra Senyora de Carme, the debate (heated arguments) that followed this publication centred on Portocristo one word or Porto Cristo two words. In addition, there was the hyphenated Porto-Cristo. But let's not overcomplicate an already complicated place name scenario.

It wasn't so much that the university changed its mind as had its mind changed for it. Toponymic separatism reared its angry head and marched on the Balearic High Court. Manacor town hall insisted that this part of its municipality was two words. Our learned friends mulled this over and in 1990 decided that it wasn't. Portocristo was linguistically united, but this wasn't to prevent determined groups from defeating unity.

Into the story stepped the Agrupación Independiente de Porto Cristo (note the two words), a political entity that was established in 1995. The AIPC had more in mind than just securing a Portocristo name separatism, but this was nevertheless a cri de coeur. And so there was to be an appeal against the high court's ruling. This meant the Supreme Court in Madrid, a far cry and distance from a university Catalan philology department. The greatest judicial minds in Spain examined the claims. Some ten years after the AIPC had been founded, victory was theirs. Porto and Cristo were separated.

It did take the university a while to revise its official list of toponyms, but revision there was. The list as it is today makes clear that Porto Cristo is the name. There is no longer any alternative, i.e. the Port de Manacor of 1989, and nor is there any hint of a hyphen. There is a gap between Porto and Cristo and that's that.

While there may be those who hanker for the days when it wasn't necessary to reach for the space bar on a keyboard when typing the name, the separated Porto Cristo has since advanced its claims even further. There had been some talk of Porto Cristo becoming a Minor Local Entity, akin therefore to Palmanyola within Bunyola, but such talk was not ambitious enough. It is 41 years since Mallorca acquired its 53rd municipality - Ariany split from Petra - and Porto Cristo wants to become municipality number 54.

This bid for independence from Manacor was given a boost four years ago by the law on popular consultations. For the AIPC and two other parties, Més and Podemos, this law was seen as the framework for a referendum on independence. This said, the AIPC didn't appear to be as bothered about independence as they had been when they had been founded. They didn't think it was the time. But the mayor, Miquel Oliver of Més, had proposed a referendum, and the AIPC weren't about to place an obstacle in the way.

Having been put on a pandemic back burner, the independence drive has now recovered its momentum. Miquel Oliver, still the mayor of Manacor, believes that it is a matter that has to be decided, though he does wonder if a decision in favour would be legally binding. Creating a new municipality isn't as simple as just holding elections and designing a municipal shield.

What basis is there for Porto Cristo becoming an independent municipality? Plenty it would seem. The conditions are the same as they were in 2019 when the mayor made his original proposal. More than 6,000 people live in Porto Cristo, it is more than five kilometres from its 'mother pueblo' (Manacor itself), it is believed that it would be financially sustainable.

There are various options for proceeding with a referendum, not all of them requiring the say-so of the state and the Constitutional Court. But Mayor Oliver, conscious of legal viability, will not wish there to be a Catalonia-style unregulated public consultation. Why would there be? Is there a real clamour for independence?

Maybe there is, but I'm not aware of mass protests demanding it. And might it open a can of worms and inspire other independence movements? That would depend on meeting conditions. It's said that Porto Cristo is the only place in Mallorca that does. Debatable. Puerto Pollensa, for example? However, there's also a thing about the municipality of origin not being left with fewer than a determined number of inhabitants.

Municipality number 54 it may become, so let's hope for its sake that if the day comes for the inauguration, a court doesn't turn round and say that they've got the name wrong after all.