After the (far from unexpected) defeat of the PSOE/Ciudadanos axis in Parliament last week, we are now running out of alternatives for a new government; but there still remain a couple of ideas before the country must return to a (probably equally unsuccessful) second election in the summer, a result which nobody seems to relish. The first would be the departure of Mariano Rajoy (give him a medal and send him to Brussels, or maybe Washington where he could practice his English). A fresh new and decidedly honest face leading the PP might allow for a Government of National Unity (if everyone had a quiet word beforehand). A second and increasingly unlikely alternative is a coalition of the izquierda, but the PSOE seems to be under the impression that it is not a leftist organisation at all, insisting on Ciudadanos being present at all discussions, while senior voices in the party make every effort to smear Podemos – their only way forward. If, following months of frustrated deals, another election is announced (with another 160 million euros down the drain), then – won’t the electorate be wondering which of the parties had proved most obdurate? And when, following from an election on June 26th, would the country finally have a government – after fresh and probably fruitless conversations? Next year maybe!
From Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insightcomes: ‘British buyers stampede into Spain pushing foreign demand to record levels’. He says ‘...foreigners bought 46,000 homes in Spain last year, 12,000 in the last quarter alone. Foreign demand was up 11% last year, and 12% in the last quarter, whilst local demand grew by only 7% in the last quarter...’ Later adding: ‘...The British were once again the biggest group of buyers by a large margin with 9,956 acquisitions last year (21% of foreign demand last year), followed by the French with 4,116 (9%), and the Germans with 3,445 (7%)...’.
Also from Spanish Property Insight: ‘The Junta de Andalucía passed in January, 2012 a Decree to regularise and clarify the legal status of buildings in rural areas on land that is not zoned for building, and legalise them wherever possible in accordance with the Land Use Laws in Andalucía. Rafael Berdaguer, founding partner of Rafael Berdaguer Abogados in Marbella, explains the situation...’.
Hacienda has been flying drones over Menorca, and reports that it has discovered 2,500 unreported – illegal – buildings. The buildings are in six municipalities – Alaior, Es Castell, Ferreries, Sant Lluís, Es Mercadal and Es Migjorn Gran, as the search continues into the rest of the island, which in October 1993, was designated by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve.
That strange, giant, empty city outside Madrid called Seseña, built by Paco el Pocero (Frankie the cess-pit cleaner) is now filling up with inhabitants. El País in Englishreports.
The Olive Pressexplains the new rental law for Andalucía and asks ‘Why is it that the phrase ‘killing the goose that lays the golden eggs’ is so often applied to bureaucrats and business people in Spain?’. The report begins: ‘If you bought to sometimes rent a Spanish property to offset bills and mortgage fees and you don’t have an extra spare céntimo to spend on it, think again. Andalucía has just confirmed its residential property rental licensing scheme, bringing it into line with the majority of other tourist areas throughout Spain...’. Yep, the Big Boys needed a helping hand, even though you’d think there was really enough for everyone.
The Balearic authorities are considering limiting the number of visitors to the islands. The Vice-president of the islands noted on a radio show that ‘...in the eighties, we had the highest GDP in Spain with five million tourists, now, with thirteen million, we are down to seventh position...’. It’s our fault, or something? Unsurprisingly, the ‘Ley del Impuesto del Turismo’, or ‘eco-tax’ – a small tax on all tourists to the Balears, will be approved in their parliament in the next ten days.
‘Absurd and abusive commissions from the banks’, is the title of a piece in a financial blog called El Salmón Contracorriente. The article lists some new charges and a clutch of increases in the old ones. By the way, a study from 2014 finds that all the main Spanish daily newspapers are controlled by various banks. The full list here.
‘Luis de Guindos has revealed a growth of between 0.7% and 0.8% in the first quarter. The acting Economy Minister also believes year end growth this year will match last year around 3%’. Typically Spanish provides a useful update on the economy, Tuesdays, here.
So why, asksXcarrio, did Pedro Sánchez neglect to make any mention of corruption in the PP during his failed investiture debate? Apparently, because of timing – two major PSOE corruption scandals were being uncovered at the same time as the debate: the political inhabilitation of the President of the PSOE in Extremadura (and ex-mayoress of Cáceres) Carmen Heras, and the General Secretary of the PSdeG (Partido Socialista de Galicia), José Ramón Gómez Besteiro, under investigation in Galicia.
‘Irene Montero, Podemos deputy spokesman in Congress and the chief of staff for Pablo Iglesias says that "they won’t let Pedro Sánchez govern with Podemos". In an interview, Montero notes that "if the PSOE were more faithful to their program, an agreement would be possible”...’ FromEl Ventano. Meanwhile, other voices say that the conditions placed on any meeting with the PSOE by Pablo Iglesias make any alliance impossible. From the website El Ventanoagain, ‘Objective: destroy Pablo Iglesias and liquidate Podemos, at whatever the cost’: an article about the intense pressure to remove this party and ‘save’ the PSOE, lead by El País. The story is confirmed in part by El Españolhere.
Mariano Rajoy has a message for the supporters of Ciudadanos, saysEuromundo Global: ‘I wonder if you knew all along that Rivera was going to offer his party support to the PSOE’. An interesting reflection in the event of fresh elections?
In the event that the UK leaves the EU following the referendum on June 23rd, the acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, José Manuel García-Margallo (always known in foreign circles as ‘Motormouth Margallo’) says he will increase his Government’s pressure on Gibraltar ‘...on the following morning...’, since the colony would be, de facto, outside the European Union. The Sun, a British tabloid, makes a scandalous version of the report here. Spain has long claimed sovereignty over the Rock, signed over to the UK in perpetuity in 1713 by Philip of Spain. The ABC also features the story. Note to Margallo: there are 30,000 Gibraltarians living on the Peñon, while between the two Spanish enclaves in Northern Africa, claimed by Morocco, there is a total of 160,000 Melillenses and Ceutís. Spain often produces hollow arguments about these cities being totally different for any number of reasons, but would Spain be stupid enough to want to play a game of Russian roulette?
The Mayoress of Barcelona has ordered the creation of identity papers for all those who are without them. These city-papers will allow holders to receive services from social agencies.
The largest cases of corruption in Spain, reported by Euromundo Globalhere. (The top five cases, between them, have cost the State 10,120,000,000€).
The Guardia Civil have, so far, entered the offices of the Partido Popular in Madrid on three occasions in search of evidence of corruption.
In 2013, we read of a scandal of false invoices and irregular finance in the offices of the UGT in Seville, a case still under investigation by the courts. The UGT is not standing still on this issue, and has denounced the whistleblower involved, and is seeking a prison sentence of four years for their ex-employee. In other news, Cándido Méndez, head of the union for the past 22 years, is retiring this week. He announced his departure at a breakfast in the Hotel Ritz in Madrid (where else would a good unionist go?).
From El País in English come the faintly disappointing results of public opinion: ‘A new survey shows that 47.5% of Spaniards consider corruption to be the country’s second-most-pressing problem, topped only by unemployment. The February poll by the Sociology Research Center (CIS) suggests that citizen concern over corruption and fraud has jumped eight percentage points from the previous month’s survey. The new results, made public on Tuesday, find that 15.4% of respondents feel personally affected by corruption, a four-point rise over January...’ (Thanks Chuck).
FromLa Voz de Almería: ‘The referendum that has just been called by Prime Minister David Cameron for the British to decide whether to remain within the EU or permanently separate from the mainland is seen by many analysts as a leap that involves great risks for everyone, but primarily for the United Kingdom itself. What would happen if the British decided to leave the EU? In the area of the Almanzora Valley, 12,000 British make up half of the population of Albanchez, Arboleas, Albox, Lubrín, Cantoria, Zurgena, Partaloa and Oria; dividing their time between cups of tea, pints of lager and watching the English telly. They fear that the British exit from the EU will leave them without public health, will depreciate the pound and increase the already tangled bureaucracy for business. They also worry about changes in taxes and pensions. Listen to declarations of the president of Urban Abuses in Almanzora No (AUAN), Irishwoman Mauren Hillen, on SER radio’.
Some British residents in Spain complain of ‘scaremongering’. They won’t like this story: From the British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond as reported in The Telegraph: ‘Expat Britons could be forced to come home from Costa del Sol if Britain leaves EU Britain and Spain might have to agree quotas of Britons and Spaniards who can live in their respective countries, the Foreign Secretary said...’. The Telegraph article features this comment, without citing provenance: ‘...An estimated 761,000 Britons live in Spain, many on the Costa del Sol...’. The Spanish INE meanwhile gives the number of Britons living in Spain at a disturbingly exact 283,243. A third figure for Britons in Spain, again from The Telegraph (and published on the same day as the above), says 319,000 (!). In short – no one knows...
With this threat of a Brexit, maybe it’s time to take out Spanish nationality. It won’t be easy, but it’s possible. A guide from the Diputación de Alicante tells you how.
A useful site for hearing the news, delivered in slow Spanish for those who are not fluent!
Controversy in the municipality of Avinyonet de Puigventós (Empordà, Gerona) after the closure of the library and the fate suffered by its contents: the blue recycling bin. The mayor of the municipality says: ‘Until the day it closed, the library just about had no visitors. From 2007 to 2014, I can guarantee that if as many as five people came in that would be an exaggeration’. Story at El Punt Avui (Catalán). More en castellanohere.
A few months down the line, instead of 17,000 refugees settling in Spain, we currently have just eighteen (and only one of them is Syrian). Públicoreports. Earlier this week, Mariano Rajoy offered to accept another 450, but the ugly new arrangement between the EU and Turkey may change the deal – however, Rajoy says he will make ‘an effort’ to secure some refugees who are ‘already processed and awaiting transfer’ (this last item comes from a site called Progressive Spain).
To prove one’s belief in parity and impartiality, why not give skirts to the little red and green figures in the pedestrian crossing lights? Well, don’t laugh, because that’s precisely what they are doing in Valencia...
‘Spain is the world's largest exporter of wine, beating France and Italy hands-down – but its takings are still lower than Europe's former top two, figures reveal. Last year alone, Spain sold almost 2.4 billion litres – or 3.2 billion bottles, based upon the standard 75cc size – abroad, some way ahead of second-largest exporter Italy's two billion litres or just under 2.7 billion bottles...’. FromThink Spain.
‘The world continues immersed in an accelerated concentration of income and wealth, which has generated profound injustice according to the Observatory of Inequality in Andalucía, as presented by Oxfam and twenty other charity associations in the region. The figures show that one in two Andalusians with work still lives below the poverty line: a total of 1,372,442 people...’. From an article titled ‘If you eat meat, you don’t pay the electric bill, and if you pay the electric bill, then you don’t eat meat’ at Andaluces.es which also notes that those in work between 2010 and 2014 saw their wage shrink by an average of 7%.
A feature from The Atlantic: ‘The Death of the Last Veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Del Berg, 100, was one of the Americans who volunteered to fight Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War, and he never stopped fighting for leftist causes’.
A half-hour documentary about the 30,000 hectares of plastic farms in Almería, produced by RTVE national television. It deals with the small margins suffered by the tomato growers in the now-traditional invernaderos, the 4,000 migrant workers who live in shanty huts: chabolas, the contamination of the aquifers, and the research and new marketing strategies within the industry. El País runs an article this week on the plight of the migrant workers.
With thanks to the Citizen Protection Law, la Ley Mordaza, El Diarioreports that thirty people a day are being fined for insulting (or ‘failing to respect’) the security forces. Lenox has a jokey version of this on his blog The Entertainer Onlinehere.
The best cities for tapas, according to El Huff Post, here.
FromThe Culture Trip: ‘The Top 10 Restaurants in Almería. Almería is a beautiful city in Andalucía, a region in southern Spain. In addition to the city’s impressive combination of modern attractions and beautiful historic sites, Almería is also a great town to experience traditional, delicious Spanish and Andalusian cuisine. Here you can find a variety of restaurants, tapas bars, pubs and even Arabic style tea-rooms, with options to satisfy even the most discerning, worldly foodies. Check out our list of the top 10 places to eat in wonderful city of Almería!...’. (Thanks Ric)
Going hunting with Carol M. Byrne. Carol has gone hunting in the Alpujarras – hunting for orchids. She will find a lot of other animals and plants along the way. A nice article about the life we wished we led.
In the old days, a trip to the cinema meant a catch-up on the news as well, with the No-Do series. Here’s a make-up from the year 1972 from YouTube. A full collection of the films are available at RTVE’s historic archives here, together with much other material – films, documentaries and so on. The No-Do (Noticiarios y Documentales) was obligatory in the cinema between 1942 and 1981.
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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Business Over Tapas 10 March 2016 Nº 151