Business Over Tapas 6 October 2016 Nº 180

06 Octubre 2016  Sección; Especiales 1108 votos


As the dean of Spanish socialism Josep Borrell says on a TV program, if the two left-wing parties can’t sit down and talk together, the right will always govern (video here). This follows the defenestration of Pedro Sánchez last Saturday. Another voice in the party, Emiliano García-Page, has a different opinion about unity: ‘the PSOE knows how to stick together and to field a truly strong candidate’ he told the media on Monday. As things stand, not many people believe this.

But perhaps the PSOE deserves some time in the wilderness. Their palace revolution against Sánchez is not supported by the militants. El Huff Post found 87% public backing for Sánchez against the leading rebel Susana Diaz at just 13% (here). There’s certainly an opportunity for Podemos to pick up added support, if they can themselves unite.

But, to practicalities. Javier Fernández, the caretaker leader, currently feels that his party wouldn’t support Mariano Rajoy in his bid for president, but also admits that it doesn’t want third elections either. On the other hand, as some deputies within the party say while washing their hands of any responsibility, ‘abstaining is not the same as supporting the PP’. So, on the whole, the PSOE inclines towards letting Rajoy become President, but, until they say so emphatically, the Partido Popular says they will wait; indeed, Rajoy now says he wants more from the PSOE than a strategic vote, and he will gladly wait until a Christmas election (where he would doubtless gather more votes and would face off against Podemos). What a mess. A pointed editorial in El Español sums things up: Rajoy has safely surfed the corruption scandal currently going through the courts thanks in no small measure to the artless collapse of the PSOE.



From Realty Biz, ‘How Spain’s Economic Woes continue to Impact in the Construction Industry’. An excerpt: ‘...So while the Spanish economy is showing signs of recovery, its construction sector remains mired in debt and long-term decline. The same can be said for the property sector, where home-ownership rates remain low (although higher than they were in the immediate aftermath of the crisis during 2013) and citizens continue to repay existing debts rather than take out new mortgages...’. According to Trading Economics, however, home ownership rates in Spain are high. ‘Home Ownership Rate in Spain decreased to 78.20 percent in 2015 from 78.80 percent in 2014. Home Ownership Rate in Spain averaged 79.28 percent from 2007 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 80.60 percent in 2007 and a record low of 77.70 percent in 2013...’.

A ‘Golden Visa’ scheme in the US has been a big hit, whilst the Spanish version continues to disappoint. A recent article in the FT shows how popular the US ‘Golden Visa’ scheme has been with foreign investors, in particular the Chinese. The American EB-5 visa attracted almost 10,000 investors last year, most of them for real estate, whilst the Spanish scheme has attracted just 1,189 property investors in two years, according to the Spanish property portal’. Found at Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight.

Another article from Mark Stücklin: ‘A recent article in the Spanish daily El Mundo reported that two out of every ten foreign tourists visiting Spain plan to buy a holiday-home here. Sounds like wishful thinking to me. The claim is based on a publicity-seeking survey carried out by a real estate company “in the principal spots of the Spanish coast” during July and August, which reportedly found that two in ten foreign visitors plan to buy a second-home in Spain one day...’.

From Axarquía Plus comes news of a recent SOHA meeting. ‘The Save Our Homes Axarquia association (SOHA) recently celebrated with its partners and supporters the modification in the LOUA and the changes in the Civil and Penal Code to regularize the situation of illegalities found in the homes of many of their members and others. SOHA President Philip Smalley said that "the next step in our struggle must be to work for the complete legalization of homes built under the authority of permits issued by the local council."...’. Around 200 people were present at the meeting in La Viñuela (Eastern Málaga) earlier this week, including the local mayor José Juan Jiménez López; the Ciudadanos parliamentarian Irene Rivera, the President of the Mancomunidad de la Axarquía Gregorio Campos and the provincial Delegate for Planning and the Environment Adolfo Moreno.

A few legal myths involving property, found at The Olive Press here.



It turns out the Government was right – the IMF has now raised its estimation of growth in Spain for this year by half a decimal point from its July estimation. The likely result is now estimated at 3.1% growth for 2016. Indeed, the IMF’s new figure is higher than the Spanish government prognosis of 2.9%. For 2017, the IMF estimates a slowdown to 2.2% growth for Spain. El Mundo reports here.

The number of unemployed people registered with the Spanish unemployment office rose by 22,801 (+0.6%) in September. Even so, the total number of jobless people remained at the lowest level for the last seven years at 3.720.297, according to a statement from the Employment Ministry on Tuesday...’. Story at The Corner here.

Wolf Street writes of a ‘bailout of two of Spain’s franken-banks: mostly state-owned Bankia and wholly state-owned Banco Mare Nostrum (BMN). The news was released so quietly that even in Spain barely a living soul is aware it’s happening. The two banks, each the product of two madcap mergers of Spain’s most insolvent savings banks, will be merged into one giant entity that is expected to become Spain’s fourth biggest bank by assets...’.

Social Security recorded a deficit of € 6,098 million (less recognized rights obligations) during the first eight months of this year, equivalent to 0.55% of GDP, a figure which is 14.5% higher than the same period from last year...’. Report at Gurusblog here.



Pedro Sánchez lost support of his party last Saturday. ‘Hopes for an end to Spain’s nine-month political deadlock have risen after the shattered Socialist Workers’ party deposed its leader over his point-blank refusal to allow the acting prime minister to form a government.

Pedro Sánchez, who had fought to retain the leadership of the PSOE since a coup against him erupted this week, stepped down after a long and bitter meeting of the party’s federal executive committee on Saturday...’. From The Guardian here. Sánchez meanwhile says he will continue as a deputy in the back-benches. Pedro Sánchez blames his fall, says Vozpópuli, on a combination of the efforts of Susana Díaz and the Ibex 30 (the largest companies in Spain, who would prefer to see another Rajoy government).

As seems likely, the PSOE will allow Rajoy to govern. This would mean that they would accept the PP budget plans. The story here. The leader of the Ciudadanos, Albert Rivera, says he will gladly intercede between the PP and the PSOE to get some sort of a deal, says El Español. ‘The PSOE commits suicide’, says an opinion piece here.

An interesting editorial from Vilaweb in English discusses the (now inevitable) passing of the PSOE ‘...But this historic shift has another aspect that strikes me as particularly relevant: the disappearance of the PSOE is the disappearance of the party that created Spain. It is the disappearance of the party that made the Spanish transition possible. Of the party-as-state. And that is why this disappearance will inevitably lead to the demise of a particular model of the Spanish state...’.

...Spanish politicians on the right and left have until the end of October to overcome their divisions and form a government after two previous ballots in December and June delivered hung parliaments...’. From Reuters. It is curious how a party in crisis, divided, shrinking in membership and votes, can still be the unwilling protagonist between either a PP government or another (no doubt doomed) election to be held in December.

Pacma, the eccentric animalist party, is doing well in the polls. El País reports that the party (which bleeds votes away from rather more important issues), has grown in support from 44,795 votes in the general elections of 2008 to a whopping 284,848 in last June’s elections – not enough, however, to gain a seat in the parliament. The party has no manifesto beyond animal rights and banning bullfights.



Is ruining a comfortable, middle-class life a price worth paying, if it means bringing rich and powerful people to justice on alleged corruption charges? Ana Garrido thinks it is. The 50-year-old former civil servant's personal investigation played a key role in exposing a massive corruption network linked to Spain's ruling Popular Party...’. BBC News has the human interest story (and the background) behind the Gürtel Inquiry here.



Spain proposes ‘co-sovereignty’ with Gibraltar after the Brexit to ‘avoid any problems’. The story is at 20 Minutos. The proposal would allow Gibraltar to remain in the EU and would allow ‘the fullest self-government possible’. ‘Spain considers this proposal to be beneficial to all sides’, said the Spanish ambassador to the United Nations, Román Oyarzun, while adding ‘The non-application of treaties in Gibraltar will mean a radical change in its relations with Spain, which, above all, would generate a major problem for the Rock’. As Spain faces the prospect of losing Catalonia, it spends huge efforts on taking Gibraltar.



The trial of 37 former high-ranking officials and lawmakers from Spain’s Partido Popular began in Tuesday. Kickbacks, fake invoices and Swiss bank accounts are all features of the so-called Gürtel affair – which allegedly saw PP politicians across Spain receive bribes. The

Spanish media have labelled it the ‘trial of the year’ as three former party treasurers are among the accused...’. The item comes from The Olive Press. From the same news source comes another report, this time of the ongoing trial of the ‘black credit cards’: ‘The former head of the International Monetary Fund has told a court he thought his use of a company credit card was legal. Spain’s Rodrigo Rato claimed he believed his corporate card during his tenure at Bankia bank formed a part of his salary. The 67-year-old was answering prosecutor’s questions in the first day of a trial in which 64 others are accused of using company credit cards while working at Bankia to buy luxury, non-work related items worth millions of euros...’. These two trials would be more than enough in most modern countries to be the end of the political party that spawned them.

An ex-mayoress gets 17 years jail and a nine million euro fine for fraud, urban corruption and dereliction. María Victoria Pinilla from La Muela in Aragón comes from a local party, the Partido Aragonés. A number of family members have also been handed down jail sentences. The story here.



Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed Britain will trigger article 50 by March 2017.

Once triggered, a two-year countdown to Britain leaving the EU will be set in motion, Story at The Olive Press here.

The Spanish government intends to broker a deal with the United Kingdom under which the outgoing EU member state would cover the healthcare costs of the British diaspora living in Spain. At an event in Alicante Thursday (30 September), focused on what effect Brexit could have on local business, Spain’s foreign affairs minister said that an agreement between Madrid and London would have to be made on healthcare provision...’. The report comes from EurActiv here.

The United Kingdom plans to force companies to list all foreign workers. We have seen this revolting piece of bigotry trumpeted on the cover of the Daily Telegraph and it has been amply covered by the Spanish press. El Mundo for example. Naturally, the comments make for painful reading. The first one we find says ‘I hope the rest of Europe do the same to the British and ask for the same (or more) requirements. Reciprocity is essential in these cases lest we return to be seen as the Quixotes of always’. Want to read some more?

A union of 21 town halls in Almería have signed a joint statement saying that they want to offer all support to their British residents, post Brexit. The story is at Spanish Shilling here.



The Gürtel might be important, but, for the four largest newspapers in Spain... not so much. They seem to prefer for their main headline on Tuesday other stories of lesser importance. So, who controls these newspapers? Their editors? El Boletín has the story here.



If you believe your little darlings will speak English by the time they get to college, then you can think again. ‘Bilingualism’ is the great swindle of the Andalusian educational system. I have 20 years in this and, except for children of mixed families connected to the Perfidious Albion or coming from a very high cultural level, I have never met anyone able to hold a conversation in English with any skill. If you go into a supposedly bilingual class of Baccalaureate and you say too quickly something like "Hello", you will have lost them already, and this is the daily educational reality...’. Opinion at Huelva Información.

Spain is patriarchal, fawning (‘zalamera’), unpunctual and partial to a good siesta, or so the foreigners think: says El País here. The study comes from the HSBC which probably has other goals from the rest of us.

A story much in the news involves the disappearance of a young woman called Diana Quer. To put things into perspective, an average of five Spaniards disappear every day. A charity called SOS Desaparecidos lists 380 disappearances in 2016 up to the end of last week. Of these, 244 were later found alive and 86 dead. The remaining 50 continue to be lost. The report from Antena 3 with video here.

In Almería, as we patiently wait (and wait) for the AVE, the tunnels through the mountains built at huge expense were bricked up over two years ago to stop the shepherds using them. Now, it seems, thieves have been getting in and stealing large amounts of equipment, particularly copper cable. A local gang has now been arrested. Story here.

According to a long article in El Español, Spain’s network of brothels is practically run by Romanian businessmen (the report prefers the word ‘mafia’). It makes for terrible reading.

For world-travellers, here are all the Wifi passwords for the major airports. El País has the list here.

Fears that Spain had become irreparably divided following two inconclusive general elections and almost 10 months of ceaseless political bickering were allayed on Tuesday morning after Jamie Oliver united the nation by tweeting his own twist on paella.

Unfortunately for the Naked Chef, philanthropist, and scourge of pushers of Turkey Twizzlers, it was against him that Spaniards united... The story at The Guardian here. The story is also in Spanish at Así Va España here.


See Spain:

A tour of 15 Spanish cities through their most typical dishes. From hearty stews to refreshing soups, here is what to look for and where to eat it’. From El País in English. Meanwhile, The Guardian takes us around the ten best restaurants in San Sebastián here.



I strongly recommend reading BoT. As long as you can take unsweetened news. I find it very useful. Andy

Brexit is a worry indeed. The vote appears (to this Spanish resident) as being largely inspired by racism and bigotry: something we who love Spain find hard to understand.

The United Kingdom was never a leading champion of a truly 'United' Europe, so perhaps one should look on the bright side and, with the British out, maybe the rest of the EU can now improve and coalesce.

For the much-maligned and usually ignored ex-pats, Brexit is almost certainly going to be a bother. If the UK puts limits on EU citizens by demanding visas or work-permits, why then the Spanish authorities will do the same thing to us. We have no champions, no spokesmen and no representation to protect us or argue our case. The Spanish think we are just 270,000 (not 800,000), so will not be unduly swayed by economic arguments. If the UK inconveniences Spanish migrants as Mre May is now threatening to do, there will be a tit-for-tat and worse still, the British Government wouldn't say a word to defend us.

We have a few groups here created by the foreign residents. One is 'Brexpats in Spain' based in Mijas. I work with another which seeks help from Brussels rather than from London or Madrid. It's called 'Europats'.

We Britons living in Spain could easily lose our privileges - health cover, the right to vote, annual pension increases... maybe in an extreme case, our right to residence. Sticking one's head in the sand won't cut it. Lenox



Here they are – 23 WTF stories that could only happen in Spain. Buzzfeed provides the whimsy with pictures here.


Business Over Tapas 6 October 2016 Nº 180

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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