We are approaching a couple of key events – the British referendum on the European Union, and the Spanish General Election. The first of these, on Thursday 23rd June, will be (we are told) ‘tight’. If the British do decide to leave, there will be endless stories to report about the fate of the ex-pats in Spain. There will probably be calls from other European countries to hold similar referenda – it could even be, as the melodramas have it – ‘the beginning of the end’ of the EU. If the UK leaves, then we can expect the Spanish (and their European partners) to be a little harsh with us, unforgiving and ungenerous. Are your papers in order?
But perhaps the ‘stay’ vote will win the day. At least, there would be fewer surprises for those of us who plan to continue living in Spain.
Just three days after the shock or otherwise of the British poll, the Spanish will be asked to kill another Sunday with fresh parliamentary elections. There are similar choices to the December ballot, with the exception of the union between Podemos and the Izquierda Unida – a partnership which has seen the new ‘Unión Podemos’ move into second place among the pollsters. Nevertheless, there still remains four main parties to choose from (plus the regional ones and a few eccentric and slightly pointless tiddlers). No one party will make it alone – and the ill-felt negotiations of December might be repeated once again: to no one’s benefit. Unfortunately, rather than watch the debates, Spain is once again romanced by the far more compelling (if utterly pointless) Copa de Europa.
The BoT forecast: a coalition government made of Unión Podemos with the PSOE: Pedro Sánchez for president.
‘Off-plan buying returns to Spain as the surplus housing stock runs out. As inroads are made into the excess supply of unsold residential properties which remained when the market collapsed in late 2007 and 2008, in some areas of Spain, the need for new housing is such that off-plan buying is at last making a comeback in order to meet increasing demand...’. An article found at Spanish News Today. We have seen more than a few frauds with off-plan property in recent times...
A property-owners association called ‘la Confederación Andaluza por la Legalización Urbanística’ has met with the main political groups in Andalucía to try and resolve the issue of homes built on what were later found to be illegally divided plots (‘parcelas’ in Spanish). They hope that a modification in the law will allow these homes to become legal – so at the very least, the residents will be able to obtain water and electricity. More here.
‘The Civil Guard have arrested a British couple who ran an unregistered retirement home in Santa Pola on the Costa Blanca, charging residents €3,000 per month and allegedly persuading them to hand over their assets. The husband and wife, who have not been named but are both said to be 59, and their 25-year-old daughter, are being investigated for fraud, operating without a licence and engaging in criminal activity...’. FromThe Local.
‘Spain’s tourism sector braces itself for a sixth record year. Likely arrival of 70 million people this summer will boost growth across many areas of the economy’. As someone working in the business says: ‘The outlook is spectacular. Failing a catastrophe or some major security issue, we’ll beat last year’s record easily’. The story at El País in English.
Mallorca has an astonishing 306 hotel beds for every one thousand residents, and if you throw in all the apartments and rooms, legal and otherwise, it’s around 488. Story here.
‘Experts warn of a jellyfish boom across Spain's beaches. Holidaymakers have been warned to watch out for jellyfish this summer, as the numbers of the stinging sea creatures are on the rise along the country’s Mediterranean coast...’. FromThe Local.
Unemployment has fallen to under four million for the first time in six years, at a little under 3,900,000. The report is at Nueva Tribuna.
The Banco Popular has a capital of 1,096 million euros and it currently has a hole of over 5,300 million euros. The famous ladrillo - speculation in housing - has brought the Popular to the edge, and another massive cash injection from the State into the banks in not an option. Private bank accounts these days are guaranteed up to 100,000 euros by the Banco de España. The full story at Ataque al Poderhere. More on the troubles with the Popular here at Wolf Street, which adds in an aside: ‘...In the last five years Spanish banks have been able to bend or break just about every rule in the book with not so much as a slap on the wrist from Spain’s two biggest financial regulators, the CNMV and Banco de España, both of whom have been accused of a raft of oversight failures...’.
‘Costa investment projects stuck in the pipeline. Disagreements between institutions, financial restrictions, tensions between different political forces in town halls and five months of a caretaker government have halted a number of major projects’. The report is at Sur in Englishhere.
General Elections June 26:
The four-way televised debate between Rajoy, Sánchez, Iglesias and Rivera will be held on Monday night (June 13th) on at least three different channels. The time has not been announced so far. More here(Spain plays the Czech Republic on the same day).
‘Communist symbols jar with Podemos’s message of moderation. Coalition with United Left runs risk of alienating centre-ground voters, say some in leadership...’. Version of the story here at El País in English. The newspaper has certainly come in for its share of criticism recently over its lack of impartiality. Here’s El Ventano: ‘the latest surveys oblige El País to publish an (obscene) editorial against Unidos Podemos’, adding, ‘The latest opinion polls published in various media reflect a sustained rise in support for the UP coalition together with a fall in support for the PSOE. This situation has reignited still further all the alarms over at El Pais, which published an editorial on Sunday qualifying the coalition as a "great deception"...’ (original El Páiseditorial ‘The great imposture. The centre-left in retreat from the twin evils of populism and catastrophism’).
It seems that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not allowed by their faith to vote. El Español gets to the bottom of this here.
President Obama will be visiting Spain from the 9th to the 11th of July. He will meet the King and the acting president Mariano Rajoy. Obama will be here following a NATO meeting in Poland on July 7th. This is the first visit by an American president to Spain in fifteen years. The story at El Mundohere.
The disgraced ex-Minister of Industry José Manuel Soria (best remembered for his work against clean energy in Spain and, more tellingly, his appearance in ‘the Panama Papers’) has been offered a job in the World Bank in Washington by the Spanish acting Government.
The Partido Popular has now paid the bond of 1,200,000€ in the inquiry over ‘illegal donations’ and the repair work on its headquarters which were paid in ‘black’, says the Diario Surhere.
‘Horses, hams and hair transplants – corrupt gifts in Spain. The corrupt political and businesses activities have exchanged presents and backhanders to ‘grease’ their fraudulent relations, gagged public representatives, civil servants and individuals...’. Report at Typically Spanishhere.
‘The first European Commissar to be investigated over corruption charges – and he’s from the PP’, saysBlasting News, citing the Commissar of Energy and the Environment Arias Cañete. According to the report, the politician must answer to accusations regarding both ‘the Panama Papers’ and the Acuamed issue (but, after the Spanish elections have passed).
FromThe Guardian (Friday June 3rd): ‘Police search Santander's Madrid HQ in money-laundering inquiry. Case arises from continuing investigation into Falciani list of accounts from HSBC’s Geneva arm, which includes 659 Spanish names...’.
There was never any doubt but that the anarchist CUP – junior partner in the Catalonian government – were sooner or later going to cause a problem, which they have now duly done by refusing to back the budget. On Wednesday, the President of the Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont, announced that the pact between JxSí and the CUP ‘was broken’.
‘I believe in their honesty and that they will soon be shown to be innocent...’, a video clip from LaSexta shows Susana Díaz in full support of her predecessors Chaves and Griñán. It’s certainly bad timing for the PSOE. The background to the case at Sur in Englishhere.
A young man from Granada began a five-year prison sentence on Tuesday for using a fake credit card to pay a bill of 79€ back in 2010. 20 Minutos has the story.
‘Brexit vote could affect Brits' right to live in Spain, says Spanish PM. Mariano Rajoy warns that a UK withdrawal from the EU would have negative consequences for everyone’. Report at The Guardian. ‘...UK citizens, he said, would forfeit crucial rights to live and work across the continent. “Leaving the European Union would mean that British citizens would lose their right to move freely, work and do business within the largest economic area, the largest market in the world,” he said...’. Rajoy also considers that a ‘Brexit’ would be bad for the 100,000 Spaniards working in the United Kingdom (saysEstrella Digital).
From The Economistarticle ‘Pity the Brexpats - Britain’s diaspora could pay a high price for a vote to leave the European Union on June 23rd’, we read ‘...Overlooked and poorly represented, perhaps Britain’s expats can blame their image problem. In the popular imagination at home they are the bacon-and-eggs brigade: witness “Benidorm”, a cheesy television comedy about ageing, lobster-skinned dipsomaniacs on the Spanish Costas. Yet why should such Britons, many of whom have paid into the welfare state for decades before moving abroad, be treated as second-class citizens?...’.
‘Unión Podemos were in Britain this past weekend to campaign against Brexit. The Podemos delegate for International Relations has spent the weekend to support a series of events arranged by the stay campaign...’. FromTypically Spanish.
The condescending article in El País about the British living in San Fulgencio is now available in El País in Englishhere.
The Madrid public water company Canal de Isabel II, while under the control of the regional PP, spent 55 million euros in advertising in the ten years between 2006 and 2015. The chosen media were... sympathetic to the conservatives, saysEl Diario. While some were large – ABC, La Razón and El Mundo were obvious choices, some were remarkably small, with un-audited print runs and so on. The conservative local TV Telemadrid did very well too (almost 11 million euros in ten years). Why does ‘publicicad institucional’ exist? Because who is going to bite the hand that feeds it! (Thanks to J-Antonio)
The story of ‘the Basque Children’ – ‘...the nearly 4.000 children brought to Britain as refugees from the Spanish Civil War following the Nationalist attack on Guernica in April 1937. Public opinion was outraged by the bombing of Guernica, the first ever saturation bombing of a civilian population. The Basque government appealed to foreign nations to give temporary asylum to the children, but the British government adhered to its policy of non-intervention...’. From the website of The Basque Children of ’37 Association UK.
Spain’s best beer? ‘After putting 31 of Spain’s beers to the test, the country’s OCU consumer watchdog has decided that El Corte Inglés department store’s Hipercor brand lager offers the best value among classic beers, while Ambar and Estrella Galicia come top in the specialty range. The OCU says that Hipercor’s 33-centiliter tin is not only tastier than its better-known rivals, such as Mahou and Heineken, but that at 36 cents a can, it’s significantly cheaper...’. FromEl País in English (BoT likes Mahou).
‘King Felipe of Spain has for the first time allowed independent auditors to analyse the royal family’s books. The move is an attempt to restore confidence in the monarchy following the scandal-hit reign of his father. The accounts show the King earns €236,544 a year, and that he has taken a 20% pay cut since assuming the throne in 2014...’. The story comes from The Olive Press. Another story, this time from The Local, may nevertheless contribute towards reversing the Royal reputation as ‘...Four relatives of the Spanish king benefitted from an amnesty on tax evasion to ‘regularize’ previously undeclared assets worth over €4million, it has emerged. An elderly relative of the King, her son and two of her grandchildren, paid less than two percent to Spain’s treasury in order to make their previously hidden income official, according to a report...’.
Around 100,000 hunters, fishermen and their supporters were in Madrid on Sunday to demonstrate against the ecologists and their control over at the Ministry of Agriculture as to what animals are to be considered as ‘invasive’. There was nevertheless no television coverage, and practically nothing in the press. ‘Invasive species’ of course can’t be bred in fish factories, or hunted – putting many jobs at risk and (according to the protestors) some 3,000 million euros a year in peril. The organisers see themselves as a Spanish version of the ‘Country Alliance’ – the country-folk defending themselves against the ignorance of the city-folk on country-matters. The authorities, stimulated by the ecologists, are particularly against the commercialisation of the American crayfish (a sort of small lobster called ‘cangrejo americano’ in Spanish), which was introduced into Spanish rivers some 40 years ago. Story at El Confidencialhere.
There’s an interesting right-wing scandal-site (en castellano) called Spain Newshere. Just the thing for dodgy Facebook stories! No information on who they are or who funds them.
‘Spain's Olympic Committee says 3,000 bottles of insect repellent will be available to its athletes to help them avoid the Zika virus during the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. At a meeting to inform the local sports federations about the virus on Monday, the committee said it recently reached a deal with the laboratory Omega Pharma to provide its strongest repellent to the hundreds of Spaniard athletes going to Rio in August...’. FromABC News.
‘In 1799, Spanish artist Francisco Goya, published a series of 80 prints in aquatint and etching, known as Los Caprichos, which translates as something like The Caprices or The Follies...’. Matthew Pritchard is going through the drawings, one by one. Join him here.
Altea: The cultural capital of the Community of Valencia. ‘The domes of the churches make one of the most beautiful panoramas in the Costa Blanca. The aim of many Berber pirates in the 16th century, the blue and white colours on the hill inspired many artists in the last decades, multiplying the number of art galleries and cultural centres in this town...’. Google-translate appears to have helped contribute to the text, but an interesting page of things to see and do in Altea.
The RAI, The Royal Language Academy, is fed up with using English words when Spanish ones would do better. Here’s their video on YouTube.
Business Over TapasJune 9 2016 Nº 164
A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners:
with Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner
For subscriptions and other information about this site, go to businessovertapas.com
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