Politics is sometimes more about a thirst for power (or ‘opportunity’) than the will to serve the people. Well, as Spain dismally considers a third General Election, this is hardly a revelation. In Madrid, if Mariano Rajoy were to resign as head of the PP and candidate for President, perhaps the country could begin to operate normally once again. If not, we could always listen to Felipe Gonzalez, who, like El País, appears to have moved firmly to the Right. In Barcelona , the politics are far more worrisome, as the region plans to split off from Spain in a political move that can only bring tears. Down in a small Almerían town, they may have learned a lesson in local politics this week, with yet another mayor, from another party, for Albox.
The Alicante diputación (county council’) is to create a new department to support and promote what is euphemistically known in Spain as ‘Residential Tourism’. El Mundoreports that the new office will be projected for the south of the province and will help collate information about the phenomenon of long-term foreign-owners and residents. Will they employ any foreigners as advisers? The article doesn’t say.
The Diario de Cádizsays that ‘The British owners of ‘irregular’ homes in Chiclana feel “deceived and defrauded”’. The Town Hall has managed to get the paperwork initially sorted to legalise these homes within the framework of the LOUA (the Andalusian planning laws), but the costs per house – to include hook-ups to the water and electricity – will be something like 25,000 euros each.
‘Will Brexit force British expats to return to the UK? We meet the Costa pensioners determined not to let the EU vote ruin their retirement’. Article from The Mail Online.
How to make tourism ‘sustainable’. A political party called ‘Equo’ has the seven solutions to the mess left in Spain by the estimated 72 million tourists who will choose this country in 2016. They are all very ecological proposals, which the good people of Equo would be glad to spearhead (if the funding were available). The report is at El Boletín.
It is said that, back in 1950, the mayor of Benidom, Pedro Zaragoza Orts, got on his Vespa and tootled off to Madrid to see the Caudillo. Managing an audience with General Franco, he came quickly to the point. ‘Exelentísimo’, he said, ‘we need tourism and we need to make ’em happy. Now the Church doesn’t approve of bikinis, but they are what the foreign tourists like. They will bring lots of money if they are looked after properly in Benidorm’. Franco answered: ‘From now on, Zaragoza, if you have any problem, then you don’t waste time with the Civil Governor; you come straight to me. Now, you go back to Benidorm and do what you have to do there’. A good story, because Benidorm knows how to keep its visitors happy. Now there’s a short film of this story: ‘Bikini’, the video (introduction), here.
‘Unemployment falls by 83,993 people, the biggest drop in July since 1997. New figures are in line with seasonal trends, and show that more than 84,000 new contributors signed up to the Social Security in June’. Story at El País in Englishhere.
Brussels may have forgiven Spain for its continued deficit, but there’s a sting – the products that are taxed with a lower rate of IVA need to be examined, and as much as possible, have their rate increased to the usual 21%. El Confidencial reports here.
Arms sales have never been better for Spain than this year, with 10,000 million euros in sales authorised by the Government. Saudi Arabia is the largest customer. More atEl País.
Could the massive construction company OHL hit the wall? Wolf Street reports here.
‘Costa Blanca expats feel Brexit pinch as exchange rate dives. Healthcare access and shifting incomes are making people feel very insecure in Spain’. Report at The Irish Times. ‘...But it’s not just the expats who are dismayed anxious about possible repercussions. With British citizens making up about 10 per cent of Torrevieja’s permanent residents, and more spending time here in the winter, their presence and spending have a substantial impact on the local economy. In his office in the small central square of Torrevieja, mayor José Manuel Dolón of the Green party admits an exodus of British residents from Spain would be bad for towns all along the Spanish coast. “If such an important, influential community were to leave, it would affect everything,” he says...’.
FromBBC News: ‘Voters in Spain could face a third trip to the polls in less than a year, the prime minister has warned. The two parties with the biggest share of the latest vote have been in talks for seven months but have not agreed on forming a government. The Socialists (PSOE) refuse to back the largest party, the Popular Party (PP). Elections in December and June gave no clear majority to any party....’. On Wednesday, saysIdeal, the smallest of the four main parties, Ciudadanos, announced that they would support the PP candidature if the PSOE agreed to allow a minority government by abstaining in the second round of voting.
Two political stories from EMG. Felipe Gonzalez is pushing PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez to give his tacit support to a Conservative government by abstaining and thus allowing Mariano Rajoy to be sworn in with a minority government. Sánchez is, so far, not giving in to this tactic (it would mean the end of his career in politics) (Here). Mariano Rajoy says that there is now every likelihood of a third General Election (November 27th seems likely) and he blames Pedro Sánchez for his intransigence (Here). El País has meanwhile made a strong attack against Pedro Sánchez in an editorial for not supporting the candidacy of Rajoy (a report in La Informaciónhere).
John Carlin, here writing in El País in English, speaks of Spain’s remarkable political tolerance. ‘...“How sad, the result of the referendum, such madness. But of course, we are worse here in Spain, because our politicians...well, you know,” the locals always tell me. “What?” is my reply. “Don’t you realize that compared with what we are seeing today in the US election campaign, compared with what we saw in the Brexit campaign, compared with the demagoguery that is sinking so deep in the populations of France, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, the political climate in Spain is a shining model of tolerance, respect, civilized manners and temperance? Please!”...’.
A microcosm of Spanish politics. We journey to Albox in Almería, where Maura Hillen (known to readers as the President of the AUAN) is a councillor for the PSOE: Maura writes last week in her blog ‘Albox town council is under siege. No heroes have emerged so far but there are a number of alleged villains, a beleaguered group of councillors who have not been indicated for any crime (unlike their predecessors from all parties) and a town growing increasingly weary...’. In brief, the PP loses to the PSOE in the 2007 elections after the scandal of the illegal houses hits the town (there were 500 in plain sight, all owned of course by foreigners). The socialist mayor is indicted for various building offences in 2013 and, in mid-term, is replaced by another, who, in turn, is also indicted. To survive, the local PSOE abandons the Party and forms another group called Socialistas Albojenses, with the same ex-PSOE mayor to continue as mayor (with the regional support of... the PSOE!). In 2016, this SA mayor is finally barred from office by the courts. A new mayor is sought, and the corporation, now with sixteen votes (the paperwork to introduce the replacement for the out-going mayor hadn’t arrived) has a tie. So, counting on a voters majority for the PSOE (or rather, the SA), the new mayor is a woman called Sonia Cerdán. But, says the PP lawyer in a court appeal, Sonia is not PSOE, which the voters chose, but rather SA. The Supreme Court of the Junta de Andalucía agrees. Now, with 17 councillors once again, a fresh election shouldn’t be a problem, but wait, the new incoming councillor of the PSOE (or perhaps we should stick with the SA) has been seen with a brand new car and some brand new friends...
So, yesterday was the vote. PSOE (or rather SA) with nine... or maybe eight. PP with seven plus the one independent from a local party called Cilus (‘Ciudadanos Libres y Unidos’). Then there’s the councillor with the new car...
It turned out that the new mayor, now tied to the PSOE (as it has now returned to calling itself in Albox), is the councillor from Cilus, an erstwhile supporter of the Partido Popular, the very independent Francisco Torrecillas. He got nine votes. The PP candidate got seven. The councillor with the brand new car abstained. All in all, he sounds like a good choice.
The Guardia Civil have discovered yet another fraud within the AVE system, this time in Murcia, for a value of eighteen million euros. Story and video at Cadena Serhere.
La Verdad says that the PSOE has 1,320 current or former officials investigated for corruption with 120 convictions so far (the Spanish legal term ‘investigado’ is now used instead of ‘imputado’). The story and video here.
Following the Catalonian Government’s announcement last week that it intends to declare Independence from Spain in the coming months or years, we find this from Aljazeera: ‘Spain seeks criminal charges against Catalan leader. Spanish government moves to nullify text by Catalonia's parliament urging the region to push ahead for independence’. The article says ‘...The text passed by the Catalan parliament outlines the steps Catalonia - a region of 7.5 million people which represents nearly a fifth of Spain's economic output - needs to take to defend its right to self-determination. It argues the "only way possible" for Catalans to exercise their right to decide on their future is if the region "disconnects" from the Spanish state and disobeys Spanish institutions...’.
Spain’s victims of Thalidomide have now lost their final appeal for compensation as the Constitutional Court refuses to hear a fresh appeal. Around 3,000 Spaniards are thought to be affected by the drug, although only 24 of them are officially recognised by the courts. Story at Facua.
Lenox Napier together with some companions has started a group called The Europats. This is in reaction to the results of the referendum in the UK in late June. Europats are defined as all Europeans who live in another EU country and are therefore without proper representation in Brussels. There are around twenty million of us. Europats is looking for a presence in Brussels and an interior European Passport (a European ID). The webpage is here. Why not join us for regular news-updates?
There are other useful links against the ‘Brexit’ debacle here.
FromEl Diario: A hundred academics from the UK and Ireland have sent a letter to the Spanish Government to say that many Britons, particularly the young, benefit enormously from their membership in the European Union. They say that their future rights should be protected following a departure by London from the EU. Demands for an acceleration of Article 50, says the letter, go in contradiction of the very notion of European solidarity.
A double-page spread in El País catches the eye. It’s an article supporting ‘a progressive government’ for Spain – a union between the PSOE, Podemos and Ciudadanos. The article is signed by 450 personalities from the worlds of politics, education and culture. However, since the proposal goes against the editorial policy of El País (!), the double page spread was paid for, with each signatory coughing up fifteen euros. Better that way maybe...? The story at El Confidencial Digitalhere.
A step forward... ‘Paramount Pictures has agreed to stop seeking geoblocking restrictions “when licensing its film output for Pay-TV to a broadcaster” within the European Economic Area (EEA), according to a European Commission press release. Additionally, Paramount Pictures agrees not to enforce any existing contract clauses involving geoblocking. Geoblocking, a form of internet censorship, is the act of restricting access to something based on the consumer’s geographical location – and it is now considered anti-competitive...’. FromPrivate Internet Acess. One of the issues of a single Europe must be the end of ‘geoblocking’: broadcasting material through country and language limits.
Ideal has published a full-page story about Jon Clarke, the editor of The Olive Press. Jon talks in an interview about the newspaper and about his worries on the fallout for Britons living in Spain following the Brexit. There’s no link to the ‘Tu Ideal’ (2 August), but a brief story appears on the subject in The Olive Press itself here.
‘...According to the Spanish state employment agency’s website “Empléate”, the two most common jobs found across the nation in May 2016 were “salespeople in shops and warehouses” (75,192 job positions with a job stability of 16.76%) and “kitchen assistants” (44,108 job positions with a job stability of 8.54%). Trabajo de calidad. Really? Can you imagine that? I can. I have had to see it personally in friends, and in the children of my friends...’. From David Jacksonhere, writing about the failures of the European Union.
‘A group of Conservative MPs have warned the Secretary General of NATO of Spain’s behaviour towards Gibraltar. In a letter, the group label Spain’s recent conduct as a threat to British security, and warn that it could lead to a ‘serious’ incident at sea. They point to the more than 210 ‘unlawful incursions’ of Spanish vessels into Gib waters, labelling the Iberian state’s conduct as a NATO ally as ‘increasingly unreliable’...’. From a report found at The Olive Press. Indeed, we read a panicky ‘Send the navy to protect Gib from Spain during Brexit', from The Leader here.
FromThe Guardian: What we owe to Cervantes: the man who invented fiction. ‘As William Egginton shows, Don Quixote – the first modern novel – broke all the rules, ushering in a literary form full of subjectivity and ambivalence...’.
Ah, the beautiful city of Valencia. Now officially called Vàlencia... Huh? ABCexplains...
American blogger Maria Jenell Nicholas gives us ‘The five Greatest Gifts of Being an Expat in Spain’. Find them here.
More ridiculous fines from Tráfico. The co-pilot has his feet on the dashboard will cost 80€. The driver picking his nose – 200€... Ideal has a few more here.
The Xunta de Galicia has been denounced by the official body of ‘El Foro do Camiño’ for altering the route of the Camino de Santiago to take in a few tourist attractions en route.
The astonishing Roman aqueduct that passes through the centre of Segovia is in a bad state, and an engineer is on record as saying that some of the stones are so weak that the whole construction could collapse at any time. Story at VozPópuli.
Was Walt Disney born in Mojácar, or was he the son of a local Mojácar doctor, as is often claimed? The Entertainer Online begs to doubt the story in an article called ‘Mickey Mousse’.
‘Spain has an impressive 45 locations listed as Unesco World Heritage sites for their cultural significance or natural beauty, including some that are entire towns. Here's a look at some of the most stunning...’. A list at The Reader.
‘The Museum of Bees in Poyales del Hoyo, Ávila, provides a unique opportunity for visitors to safely watch these hardworking insects in action. The museum has six gigantic hives hanging from the ceiling and enclosed in glass, allowing visitors to get close to the bees without the risk of getting stung...’. From Amusing Planethere.
‘Activists from 22 groups collectively representing women’s, children’s and animal rights are calling for an end to the ‘barbaric’ Pamplona bull run. They have sent a letter to Pamplona Mayor Joseba Asirón asking him to edit out the highlight of the annual San Fermín festivities, when human runners dodge the horns of bulls let loose in the streets while onlookers taunt and prod the animals...’. The article is from The Olive Press and reminds us that the British still haven’t quite got to grips with reality in Spain.
As I see it, the C's leader, Rivera, has effectively painted himself into a corner in his effort to prove he is not a clone of the Popular Party. Meanwhile the socialist leader is between the proverbial rock and a hard place, because, as Sánchez is not a Gallego like Rajoy, he has no choice but to say yes or no to abstention, and neither choice works well for him. Rajoy probably wants to show how reasonable and statesmanlike he is, but at the end of the day, I can't imagine how this deplorable situation is going to bring any joy to políticos, partidos, or PATRIA.
Today we don't even have smoke-filled rooms any more, where these things used to be settled, in the days of my youth!
Simple answer: Because UK politicians couldn't give a flying whatsit about their expats!!!! Neither could the UK's own residents. We've been called 'traitors' for 'abandoning our country', told 'you chose to live abroad, we didn't force you - you made your bed, so lie in it', and 'why should we care about you living the high life sunning yourselves on a beach in Spain instead of working [even directed at the working-age in Spain, and we put in far more hours for less money, as in spending power, than they do in the UK, and appreciate the chance of being able to do so more than the UK's grumbling, under-qualified, over-promoted workforce with its 21-year-old managers]' and even some saying retirees who have 'defected' by leaving the UK shouldn't be entitled to claim their pension. And, 'you left the UK, so you shouldn't be allowed a vote on its future in or out of the EU'. There was even a petition to the House of Commons to ban all postal votes.
So...we really have little hope of anything being done to protect our rights in the EU post-Brexit. Some Spanish town councils and regional governments are making the right noises, but if the PP gets back in by act or omission of the PSOE and C's, they don't care about the country's foreigners, either.
As for those arrogant Brits who believe Spain will be on its bended knees to stop us leaving 'because we bring money into the country' - no. Why, when the UK would happily see all its young, fit, hard-working, taxpaying Polish immigrants, who rarely need the health service, contribute to the economy, speak the language, and will probably leave before they need a pension or old-age-related extra medical care, go 'back home' en masse and/or stop 'coming in', would Spain be concerned about keeping British pensioners, who need the health service more, don't speak (or even try to learn) the language, don't work, don't set up businesses to employ other people, aren't employed in schools and hospitals, and pay a large chunk of their taxes to the UK? Of course, we know that British pensioners are an asset as much as any foreign resident, and they do a lot for charity, but then, the Poles know they prop up the British economy - and Spain doesn't know the former and the UK doesn't know the latter, or both choose to ignore. But I'm sure if Spain had a choice, it'd swap monolingual Brit pensioners for willing-to-learn-the-language working young Poles in a heartbeat.
It's only Brits who think Spain 'needs us' because we 'bring money into the country' and 'they'd still be riding around on donkeys if it wasn't for us'. Most of the progress made in Spain since the donkey-riding era has been thanks to...drum roll...EU funding!
Business Over Tapas4 August 2016 Nº 172
A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners:
With Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner. Consultant: José Antonio Sierra
For subscriptions and other information about this site, go to businessovertapas.com
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