The apparent answer to the political mess in Spain must, they say, come from the PSOE: the centre (that’s to say: with parties to both the right and to the left). But, while the PSOE won’t make a deal with the PP (it would be crazy to do so), nor with Podemos (Podemos wants a fresh Catalonian referendum), or even, with an abstention, allow the PP a minority government, the PSOE ‘barons’ (led by the Andalucian Goddess Susana Díaz) appear to want the leader of the PSOE Pedro Sánchez to fail in any attempt to allow or form a Government, furthermore, they also want his head. Links here, here (and in English here). Does this mean fresh elections in the spring? Maybe, but, would people vote differently then from how they voted in December?
An item on news from the 'VIII Foro de Liderazgo Turístico', a meeting of experts on tourism at a pre-FITUR function in Madrid: An old expert on tourism got to his feet during the lobster course, hit his champagne flute with his fork a number of times, and made the following observation: 'Tourist success is not about the number of visitors, but about the amount of money they leave behind'. A sensible viewpoint!
Spain’s Consumer Price Index has risen in 2015 by 0%, according to figures published by the Instituto Nacional de Estadística and reported in El Huff Post here.
The list of morosos, those owing over a million euros to Hacienda, can be consulted easily here (by name, province, company and so on). Between them, they owe 15,616 million.
Whatever the voters wanted, the Markets want to see a conservative government in Spain. The opinion of Blackrock, Goldman Sachs and other world funds is in favour of a PP/Ciudadanos Government. The acting Minister of the Economy, Luis de Guindos, was in New York last week meeting Spain’s bankers. ‘In a recent visit we made,’ says Juan Rosell, the president of the CEOE, ‘investors told us that, as long as Podemos doesn’t have too much weight, they will be more or less accepting’. ‘...The new Government of Spain needs to attract credits for the public and private sectors of Spain of around 400,000 million in 2016, vital to the functioning of the country; and in 2017, the figure may be about the same again...’. Story at El Mundo.
‘Spain's beleaguered Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Tuesday he would battle on to try and form a government despite categoric refusals by other key parties to back him after inconclusive elections...’. From The Local. In the event of fresh elections in the spring, Rajoy says he will once again be the Party candidate.
The number of Partido Popular deputies has been whittled down in Parliament from 123 to 119 after some political adjustment, as four supporters have moved to the ‘Grupo Mixto’ – the unaligned. These include a deputy from Segovia called Pedro Gómez de la Serna, who is under investigation for taking improper commissions. The other three are from two minor parties which ran in coalition with the PP (UPN and Foro Asturias) who say they insist on their freedom to not support the PP for the time being. Similarly, a deputy supporting the PSOE (as a coalition with Nueva Canarias) has moved to the unaligned desk, leaving the PSOE down to 89 seats. Story at Nueva Tribuna.
‘...The new situation also offers opportunities. One of the ills of the two-party system was the absence of a culture of compromise. Easily won parliamentary majorities made politicians dismissive of pacts. Bipartisanship is as rare in Spanish politics as a unicorn. Voters themselves tend to frown upon coalitions, which they regard as betrayals. That will have to change now, and fast’. A fine summation of Spain’s current situation after the elections, from The New York Times. (Thanks to Ian for the link).
‘Will a brave new Spain rise from the election stalemate? - Weary of austerity and corruption, voters broke the two-party system. Now the challenge is to move ahead’. Interesting article from The Guardian.
How on earth did so many of the Spanish return to vote for their oppressors, asks Francisco Rubiales at Voto en Blanco? He says: ‘...The Spanish voters have missed the election opportunity to force the change that this country needs and they were not even prepared to break the bipartisanship that, while hurt in the polls, still preserves its hegemony. When it was logical to think that the old parties would be severely punished and that the same system, incapable of regeneration, would be defeated with millions of protest or blank votes, or abstentions, that has not happened and, contrary to all expectations, a tide of millions of votes have returned to strengthen a system that has proven to be corrupt and abusive of power; which fails to avoid the separation of power; where the law is not equal for all; where morality is crushed and which is, in short, every day further away from true democracy...’.
With the autonomous elections due for next year, the recent results in the Basque Country, where Podemos became the first power in the region, defeating even the PNV, has caused an upset among those Basques in favour of Independence. ‘..."The people have understood that we are not separatists, but at the same time we have a special sensitivity to the Basque national identity and we respect this," said a Podemos spokesperson...’. Story from Público.
One of the odder parties to take votes – with almost 220,000 (if not enough for a seat in the Parliament) – is something called PACMA, a defender of animal-rights party. Their three claims – animals, social justice and the environment. Just as well they didn’t win!
The police, while searching the home of the parents-in-law of Francisco Granados, the ex-General secretary of the PP for Madrid now in prison facing corruption charges, have found a case with one million euros in cash hidden on top of a cupboard. The family says it must have been left there by a plumber or some delivery person from Ikea ‘since several of them have visited the house recently’. In a (joke) news item, Ikea announces that is will cease to produce its ‘one million euro hidden in a suitcase’ item as it is proving to be something of a loss-maker for the company.
For Artur Mas to become president of Catalonia, the anti-establishment pro-independence CUP must give him their support. After extracting many promises from Mas, the party put its decision to a vote among its supporters, getting an exact tie: 1,515 in favour, and the same number against. Just one more promise maybe...? The eccentric party says it is now to rule on January 2nd. Following the apparent impasse, the Iniciativa per Catalunya and Podemos parties are now pressing for fresh elections in Catalonia.
‘Ex-Catalan premier and wife named as targets of money-laundering inquiry. Jordi Pujol and Marta Ferrusola subpoenaed to appear on February 10 before High Court’. Headline at El País in English. Story here.
‘A franchise for all British Expats in the EU is not rigging the Referendum!’. A call for the British émigrés to have the vote: ‘The consequences of a Brexit for the 2 million or so British citizens living within the rest of the European Union (EU), as well as the impact on the UK should they be forced to return, remain unclear...’. From Vote for Expat Brits Blog.
‘...Forty-three percent of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News said a British departure from the European Union is the biggest threatfacing the U.K. economy next year , while 13 percent chose the build-up to the referendum on membership of the bloc. Thirty-nine percent of respondents picked these as their second-biggest risks... From Bloomberg.
Why didn’t Podemos do better in Andalucía – the traditional home of the izquierda? ‘They are all city folk’, says an old campesino dismissively. Why does the PSOE always do so well there at the expense of the PP? An article from Ciudadano Saborido explains (an excerpt): ‘...Andalucía is a land where the bourgeoisie, the Right, had always been very hard on the working class, especially with the people from the campo, while in the cities there was always a lot of exploitation of the workers, such as in the Jerez wineries, very well portrayed in the 1905 novel by Vicente Blasco Ibañez 'La Bodega'.
The contempt of the Andalucian señorito towards the workers has been passed from generation to generation. I myself remember my grandfather’s story – that they put a gun to his head and made him run like a rabbit in the farmhouse while the señorito fired away. For laughs. For being a Red.
Seriously, this is one of the reasons. In the old days, the Right did a lot of damage.
Maybe they think that that was Before. But those of today are the grandchildren of those from before. We know them by their names. It’s natural to reject them.
Besides, in Andalucía we had a bourgeoisie that were all a bunch of bums. While in Catalonia for example, the bourgeoisie sacrificed, worked and risked their money by starting businesses and the industrial revolution, the Andalucían señoritos (the ‘gentlefolk’) spent their time here horse-back riding and carousing and free from any self-discipline. Myself, I'm a winemaker and viticulturist and I have met descendants of winemaking families who wanted to study viticulture and oenology yet were unable to take the studies through laziness, barring some exception.
That’s what made the family winemaking companies in Jerez end up belonging to multinationals.
The lazy wealthy classes, who held the capital, left Andalucía without industries – at the bottom of Spain.
We had no industries and we were uneducated, because Franco produced a total illiteracy of the working class. My father, for example, began work tending cows in the field when he was just seven years old and only at the age of twenty he learned to read, taught by a fellow-soldier as he did his military service.
So along came la democracia, and the Andalucian people could at last vote...’.
Who were they going to vote for?
Traditional voting patterns, yes; but also, I think, an obligation to the new moneyed masters - Lenox
Madrid is removing a number of ‘francoist’ street names in a gesture towards forgetting the past known here more officially as the ‘Ley de la Memoria Histórica de España’. One such removal, ‘La Calle del General Millán-Astray’, has upset the Legión Española since the General was the founder of this noble unit of the Spanish army and, according to them, ‘was not a francoist’.
The Andalucian Government transferred 138 million euros this week to the ailing RTVA (Canal Sur) broadcaster to keep it in trim, says the ABC.
‘Dubbing foreign films could soon become a thing of the past in Spain. The PP is proposing to end the practice in a bid to improve the country’s standard of English...’. The story comes from The Olive Press.
‘Bullfighting isn't barbaric: What I found in a year on breeding estates. Spain's most controversial sport has been in strife lately. But anthropologist Robin Irvine explains why a year working on a bull-breeding estate made him optimistic for its future’. Headline and introduction from The Local.
Some 375,000 books, never read, are stored in a warehouse belonging to the Valencian Government. These books were published, at public expense, and then boxed and forgotten. Some of the volumes are over thirty years old – many are simply obsolete and must be destroyed. But, why are they there? It appears that most are vanity books, written perhaps by politicians, or friends of those who were in power... One work, with 65,000 copies held in storage, is a cook-book. The story is here.
La Cadena Ser has a story of the companies that advertise quick credits on the TV – and how they charge interest of up to 4,500% per month. So a loan of 300€ can become, in one year, a debt of 14,800€. Oddly, they are legal. FACUA, the consumer agency, says that it is campaigning against these companies – guilty, it says, of usury.
From an essay on Europe at Truthout: ‘...Empires fall, countries collapse, and regimes break when they come under multiple pressures which pile on difficulties of growing complexity. When this complexity outstrips the steering capacity of such entities they tend to crumble and give way to new historical forms. Is the EU now in this position?...’.
‘Spain is a generally a superstitious country and New Year's Eve is probably one of the most superstitious days of the year. Practically everyone participates in one or more superstitious rituals, whether it be eating the twelve grapes or toasting with a ring in your glass of champagne, everyone is wishing for better times or at least for things to not get any worse...’. From Spain’s Top Ten New Year's Eve Superstitions at Eye over Spain here.
The 25 best political videos of 2015 at El Huff Post here.
Business Over Tapas
A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners:
with Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner
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