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Editorial:

Why have we still no Government? It’s been nine months since the last one was dissolved to prepare for fresh elections. Since then, we have had two uncertain general elections and there could even be another one at the end of the year. Even then, there might be no quorum. If Rajoy ‘went’, and a substitute took his place, then maybe things might be resolved. This seems unlikely.

A peculiar suggestion from Ciudadanos, the other rightist party, is to allow the PP to form a minority government (through parliamentary tricks), and then, with the help of the PSOE, to participate in a strong and spirited opposition. The point, says Ciudadanos, is to have a government. The price for this for the Partido Popular would be six written undertakings towards transparency and against corruption. The case is laid out by the El País in English here. The joke is that the ‘leftist’ newspaper (so-called) is unhappy that the PSOE doesn’t want to swallow this poisoned fruit.

...

Housing:

Housing sales in Spain increased by 19.4% year-on-year in June to 36,856 units, the largest figure since January 2013, according to recent data from the Spanish Statistical Office. Housing sales have now risen for five consecutive months on an inter-annual basis. However the growth registered in June was lower than in May, when home sales rose 23.6% year-on-year...’. From The Corner here.

Some scary stuff from The Telegraph: ‘Hundreds of Britons are worried about demolition orders being imposed on homes they bought in Spain, which were subsequently ruled to be illegal. Bulldozers have begun demolishing 214 homes that were illegally built on Spain’s northern coastline of Cantabria. (...) In all, there are 600,000 demolition orders against homes in Spain. Environmentalists and Cantabria’s regional government argued that the illegal buildings, which overlooked the coastline and sand dunes, ruined the landscape. The Supreme Court agreed and ordered their demolition...’. Coverage of the demolitions appears in El País here.

A new and interesting house-hunter is emerging, says El Pais, with affluent Chinese buyers who apparently favour Spain as a permanent destination. The Spanish Visa de Oro offer (anyone who spends over 500,000 is fast-tracked for residence papers) is proving at last to be mildly fruitful. El País in English adds: ‘The relatively low prices of Spain’s still-recovering housing market are proving increasingly attractive to China’s burgeoning middle classes, with the country now the seventh-most popular choice for private investors, according to Chinese property website juwai.com ...’.

A new Spanish second home property website aims to increase the value of the industry to help it grow and thrive. Shario, the Second Home & Resort Industry Observatory, says the goals can be reached through organisation, transparency, business intelligence, influence and public relations. The website, which aims to be the eyes, ears and voice of the industry, has been set up by Professor José Luis Suárez and Spanish property journalist Mark Stücklin, who both have decades of experience in the industry. “Launched in the spring of 2016, Shario.org is an information and networking hub for companies & professionals in the industry in Spain. If you work in the business, then this is for you...’. Puff from Opp.Today.

...

Tourism:

Some Spanish airports are seeing an enormous amount of passengers this year (indeed, a massive 25,670,000 passengers passed through Spanish airports in July), but not all airports are equal. An article in Vozpópuli talks of the ‘zombi airports’ which have less than eighty passengers a day. These include León, Logroño, Albacete, Burgos and Huesca. Indeed the 40 million euro airport of Huesca saw only 88 passengers in the first six months of 2016.

From Typically Spanish: ‘Brexit will not damage tourism but will have an effect on new residents arriving’. A Spanish expert on the Brits says: ‘...the British will continue to search for sun in their holidays and the Costa Blanca will remain one of the most attractive for being cheaper than others, such as the French Riviera, and for having a greater hotel capacity than other tourism destinations, such as Croatia, Corfu and Malta, where there is no more room for growth...’.

The Costa del Sol tourism board has set its sights on dominating the golf tourism market.

President of the board, Elías Bendodo, wants Málaga to attract 20% of all golfers heading to Spain...’. Report at The Olive Press here.

...

Finance:

As we await some political result (is there one?), Wolf Street says that ‘...The task of setting a stringent, Troika-approved budget for 2017 — by far the European Commission’s biggest priority for Spain — will have to be put on ice, just at a time when the country’s public debt remains perilously close to record highs. According to the Bank of Spain’s raw figures, i.e. before “adjustments,” Spain’s total debt surpassed €1.5 trillion euros at the end of the first quarter of 2016. That’s over 140% of GDP, more than triple what it was in 2007...’.

Spain’s banks currently have on their books something close to 213 billion euros in property risks (assets and loans). Is that a lot or not? Judging by the recent reports from the Bank of Spain or Moody’s, the total is rather worrying: and we are not talking about small change but about the fact that our lenders still have an amount of property on their balance sheets equivalent to 20% of GDP...’. From The Corner.

From El País in English: ‘Spain’s public debt rose in June by €18.549 billion (18,549 million in Spanish usage), reaching a total of €1.107 trillion, the highest figure ever in absolute terms. As a percentage of GDP, the ratio of the country’s debt comes in at 100.9%, a record figure that even exceeds the 100.5% seen in March, which was when the ratio broke the 100% barrier for the first time. Such a figure has not been seen since 1909, when, according to records, debt levels reached 102% of GDP...’.

It’s hard to get a job – and therefore to get social security and later on, some reasonable pension. For those aged over forty, things become harder still, as El Mundo reports in an article here. Over two million people are in this difficult position in Spain. The article begins with a business interview: ‘I like your profile, but not your age’...

...

Politics:

Mariano Rajoy appeared in front of the press on Wednesday afternoon to announce that he had nothing really to say. The offer from Ciudadanos to support (by abstention) his candidature still wouldn’t be enough without the PSOE chipping in, and furthermore, he hadn’t agreed to the conditions put down by Ciudadanos (possibly since he would be obliged to hang one or two key party figures out to dry, who might then turn to the press themselves). In all, said Rajoy ingeniously, it’s everyone’s fault that we may have to wait for fresh elections in December. El País reports here.

The curiously named Alfonso Alonso has left his job as Health Minister to run for the PP in the Basque elections for September 25th. His post in the caretaker Government has been picked up by Fátima Báñez, who is also in charge of Employment and Social Security. The story is at Vozpópuli here.

Arnaldo Otegi, inhabilitated or otherwise, is the candidate for lehendakari (president) for the separatist EH Bildu party in the upcoming regional elections in Euskadi (the Basque country). Will this cause a problem? The PP certainly think so, while the PSOE has already publicly accepted Otegi’s right to participate.

...

Corruption:

The electricity companies are finding some large-scale fraud going on with various different large empresas in industrial zones in Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao. Tapping the lines is frowned upon! The fine can be the equivalent of three years full consumption of contracted power! The report at El Confidencial Digital suggests that ‘we’ all pay for these frauds.

...

Brexit:

From a petition to allow representation for all British ex-pats over 18: ‘Create overseas constituencies and extend democracy to disenfranchised expats’. From 38 Degrees.

From The Mail Online: ‘Expats lose voting rights because it's 'too complex': Government shelves plans to give one million Britons their say because civil servants insist it would be too difficult to implement’.

...

Various:

The number of 'foreigners' (we can safely assume they mean South Americans) in the Spanish military has fallen from almost 3,600 in 2012 to just 320 by 2015 - a fall of over 90%.The Military - according to El País - has no qualms about putting them in the front lines.

What to do with Santiago Calatrava? The latest scandal with this acclaimed architect is the 28 million euros over-budget for the startling-looking Palacio de Congresos in Oviedo.

With the end of the rent-controls in Madrid a couple of years ago, came the beginning of the end of some quirky shops. As El País in English reports, ‘Dozens of classic businesses have disappeared from Madrid's city centre, some replaced by franchises or clothing stores, while others are still empty’.

The Virgen del Socorro, patron of a small Guadalahara town called Illana, has been declared ‘mayor in perpetuity’ by the ruling PP. This follows another town in Cácares called Navalmoral declaring their virgen to be given a similar distinction last month. Story here.

The Spanish Olympic medallist Marcus Cooper Walz, a Spaniard with an English dad and a German mother, won the gold medal in the K-1 1000 metres event. A true Europat! Mind, El Mundo claims him here for España: ‘…descartar la idea de que la sexta medalla para España en estos Juegos de Río sea de un guiri…’.

...

See Spain:

American ex-pat blogger Leftbanker lives in Valencia City and he likes to travel with his bike. He says he hasn’t driven a car in over ten years.

Tarragona: ‘North Korea may be isolated in the international community but it now has a modest ally on the Spanish coast -- the Pyongyang Cafe, a small bar founded to support Kim Jong-Un's strongman rule...’. Story from The Local.

...

Finally:

Mallorca by drone’ with Nicholas Stael von Holstein here.

 

Business Over Tapas 18 August 2016 Nº 173

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

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