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Editorial:

The PSOE is in serious difficulties. Their slogan, ‘la fuerza que nos une’ – ‘the force that unites us’ – is clearly not doing its job. While the caretaker leader says that his party will abstain later this month, allowing the PP to take the presidency, ‘but with an active opposition at all times’, the reality is that the party has broken trust with its supporters, many of whom are no doubt considering abandoning the PSOE altogether. Meanwhile, a survey of supporters shows that just one in three favours an abstention (a device which will give the presidency to Mariano Rajoy). Another poll says that 71% of militants would prefer another election over any deal with the Partido Popular.

The effective Opposition, says Pablo Iglesias from Podemos, now lies with us.

Meanwhile, a proposal by the PSOE mayor of Jun (Granada) is seeking to gather support from party-members to call for an emergency congress to reinstate Pedro Sánchez.

The pressure from the PP, Big Business and the Media (see El País in English from two weeks ago here), is to re-instate Rajoy, but at the cost of a traditional and once-powerful political party. The PSOE after a run of 137 years can currently be described, at the very least, as a sad shadow of its former self.

...

Housing:

A Spanish second home website has signed an agreement with the Spanish Land Registrars Association to increase housing market transparency. The recently-launched Second-Home & Resort Industry Observatory (SHARIO), has teamed up with the Spanish Land and Business Registrars Association in the move to improve the transparency of a market that sustains an important industry for Spain. SHARIO, which aims to be the eyes, ears and voice of the Spanish second home and resort sector, has been set up by Professor José Luis Suárez and Spanish property journalist Mark Stücklin. Under the agreement, the Registrars Association will provide SHARIO with quarterly figures on home sales to foreign buyers for expert analysis in market reports for the second-home and resort industry in Spain. A better understanding of foreign demand for property in Spain will help an industry that, despite its size and strategic importance to Spain, has never been organised or well understood, says SHARIO Director, Mark Stücklin...’. Story at Opp.Today here.

Sareb (the ‘bad bank’) has put 700 homes for sale from as little as 32,000 up to 390,000 euros. For all tastes.... The story is at Expansión here. The Sareb property portal is here.

The value of payments outstanding to Communities of Owners around Spain has declined for the first time since the financial crisis of 2008, reveals a new report. Most homes in Spain are part of a Community of Owners, or Comunidad de Propietarios, in which owners all contribute to the upkeep of communal areas, similar to a condominium in the US. During the crisis more and more owners have been falling behind on their payments, leading to a sum total of €1.86 billion in outstanding payments in 2015, according to Spain’s Association of Estate Administrators (CGCAFE)...’. From Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight.

A Spanish real estate agency's half-year report shows that property prices and transactions have increased in the country's key cities and coastal locations. Lucas Fox International Properties calculates that in the 12 months to June 2016 prices in Barcelona's Eixample district increased by around 10%...’. Found at Property Investor Today here.

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Tourism:

Domestic passengers are using flights in preference to the AVE by two to one, says Hosteltur with a number of different transport figures here.

Agenttravel quotes Ministry figures and says that an estimated 74 million foreign tourists will have visited Spain by the end of the year: almost 9% up on 2015.

...

Finance:

The incoming government will have to make the largest adjustments to the economy ever seen. ‘ “There will be major cuts in public spending and higher taxes” ’, says a respected economist called Santiago Niño Becerra. The story at Yo Me Tiro al Monte.

Fracking is a bust says El Confidencial: ‘Four years ago they came with great fanfare and now they are creeping away on tiptoe. So radical is the change experienced by the fracking sector in Spain. By now, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong for the hydraulic fragmentation of shale and slate program from the gas and oil mining industry. Prices have collapsed hampering profitability, the Administration has been tight over issuing permissions to operate, and above all, the environmentalists have opposed all surveys, while gaining important political battles, especially at the regional level...’.

It looks like some of those unprofitable toll roads are being returned to public ownership - ‘...Two of the roads in question, the R-3 and R-5, were due to be closed indefinitely on Saturday Oct 1. But then a judge in Madrid intervened at the last minute demanding that the state take full control of them while compensating the concessionaires for their losses...’. The story at Wolf Street.

...

Politics:

The Prime Minister of the UK, Theresa May, is visiting Acting President Mariano Rajoy in Madrid today Thursday. An earlier phone conversation between them agreed that no Spaniard or British immigrant would be adversely affected by the Brexit. Story at the ABC.

A remarkable story comes from Diario16. It seems that Pedro Sánchez’ plan – before he was forced to resign – was to propose himself as president of Spain with the support of Podemos and the independence groups of Catalonia and elsewhere. The proposal was to turn Spain into a federal republic by removing the King as head of state. The Catalonian socialists PSC supported this scheme. This plan was reported to the PP hierarchy by the Spanish secret service, the CIS, and in turn, the PP told the ‘barons’ (senior PSOE politicians), including Susana Díaz, who were against Sánchez and were able to stymie his plan at the last moment. Another report – from Vozpópuli, says that it was Felipe Gonzalez who told Rajoy about the plan...

The caretaker president of the PSOE has looked the other way over the PP corruption trials and is spending his venom on Podemos, says Europa Press here. El Mundo has a similar story titled ‘The new PSOE doesn’t attack the PP over its corruption issues’ here.

Susana Díaz says she could handle running both Spain and Andalucía. Ideal has the story.

The Catalonian socialist party, the PSC, says it will break from the PSOE as ‘we won’t be Rajoy’s puppets’. Vozpópuli reports here.

While the various court cases against corruption creak through the Spanish justice system, here’s an interesting scoop from El Mundo: it seems that, at one time, the PP would send out a ‘Powerpoint’ presentation to their mayors on how to engineer illegal party financing. In another article, the newspaper obligingly tells its readers where... and who... and when.

From an editorial by Ignacio Sánchez-Cuenca at El Ventano: ‘...Precisely because what is at stake here is impunity, the opposition parties should have kept with Pedro Sanchez’ "no means no" mantra, to then try to form an alternative government. Unfortunately, they have fallen short. With the collapse of the PSOE at the last minute, the parliamentary crisis will be overcome, but at the cost of allowing one of the most corrupt parties in European history to remain in power. What a victory!’.

The King has called for fresh meetings with party leaders for October 24th and 25th. A debate to formally choose a Government must be held by the end of October... or fresh elections must be called.

...

Corruption:

The first repentant in the Gürtel Case has admitted that a PP mayor gave him 150,000 € in black money. Businessman Jacobo Gordon made a deal with the former Mayor of Majadahonda Guillermo Ortega to launder profits for a real estate investment. The alleged kingpin in Gürtel, Francisco Correa, also participated...’. From Typically Spanish here.

The Xornal de Galicia uncovers a web of high-ranking members of the PPdeG regional party who have benefitted improperly from the disbursement of public funds.

Well, someone has to pay the lawyers representing those of the37 accused in the Gürtel trial who can’t afford a good brief. According to El Confidencial, it’s ultimately the tax payer. Each lawyer will be guaranteed up to 30,000€ by the Ministry of Justice to see that justice prevails. The prosecution is asking for 738 years of prison between the accused.

El Mundo claims that judges, journalists and civil servants are often obliged to turn the other eye in Andalucía, as corruption in various forms flows past them. Pressure, spurious complaints and worse. The subject was treated in a recent meeting called ‘La corrupción en Andalucía' given by the Club de los Viernes in Seville with several guest-speakers, including a senior regional correspondent for the newspaper called Silvia Moreno.

...

Courts

A Dutchman who spent 12 years in jail for an unjust rape conviction is ‘suing Spain for €6m’ after DNA proved it was committed by a Brit’. Story at The Olive Press here.

Those adverts for ready money in an hour, by companies that don’t look for collateral, but do look for a high interest, are a noisome parasite on society. Now the best known of them, Cofidis, has had a court ruling against it with the judge charging it with ‘usury’ for abusive interest claims.

...

Brexit:

The Daily Telegraph reported on Saturday that ‘...EU nationals currently living in the UK are to be allowed to stay in the country after Brexit, as the Home Office has found out that five in six of them could not legally be deported. Home Office research has concluded that, when Britain leaves the EU, just over 80% of EU citizens in the UK will qualify for residency whilst the remainder – more than 600,000 people – will be offered an amnesty. An unnamed Cabinet source said, “They will be allowed to remain in Britain. But it is important that reciprocal agreements are made with the EU to ensure that British people abroad get the same rights.” ’ Story here. (The article, as a bonus, has a video called ‘100 reasons to embrace Brexit’!).

The chances of EU citizens settled in Britain retaining all their rights to live, work and retire in the UK after Brexit have been rated as zero by legal experts’. The Guardian quotes an expert in international law as saying that ‘... this was the price millions of people – including 1.3 million Britons abroad and 3 million non-Britons living in the UK – were likely to pay for Brexit...’, adding ‘...that the British government might have to consider compensation for British citizens abroad if some rights, such as access to Spanish or French healthcare, were lost...’.

El País says that the rest of Europe will be as ‘hard’ as the British Government. The news-site lists various countries and their probable reaction, including the opinion from Spain: ‘Madrid: emphasis on Gibraltar and Scotland. Madrid coincides with Rome in their concern for their 200,000 nationals living (officially) in the UK. And it aligns with Germany in wishing to avoid a disproportionate economic impact: the UK is the fourth largest Spanish trading partner and a key market for tourism. At the same time, Madrid applauds the hard line taken by the French in strictly political issues: for Spain, Gibraltar and Scotland are the leading concerns. The Government claims co-sovereignty in Gib, with some notable belligerence coming from the Foreign Ministry, and warns that there will be no preferential treatment to keep Scotland in the EU (with the Catalan process on the horizon). "France will be harder until they pass their elections for fear of Le Pen, but Germany will be tough, because it wants to take part of the City" say sources consulted. "London will attempt to divide the Europeans," they conclude...'.

...and then there’s The Express (a British right-wing populist newspaper): ‘Spain playing with fire as it threatens to CHARGE ex-pats for healthcare after Brexit. BRITAIN and Spain are bracing for another diplomatic war of words over who should pay for expats' healthcare after Brexit’ (Headline). A sample reader’s comment: ‘Anything they can do We can do better, As soon as One British person is Charged for Hospital care anywhere in the cesspit of the EU, We can Charge the Whole of the EU for theirs, The Lying scumbags have tried the Threats...’.

Tim Parfitt on El Punt-Avui (a local Catalonian Television), with their weekly English programme, discusses the ‘48% v Brexit’ debate and other issues. Video here.

...

Media:

The council that polices the national television has reported that there are a number of news stories being broadcast designed to confuse viewers while the real story is manipulated. Such examples of these, known as ‘la técnica del trabalenguas’ (twisting the meaning) include putting up contrary text. An example given shows the minister Arias Cañete in June being called to the European Parliament to explain his connections to the Acuamed Case (large sums of European money disappear...). The flash underneath the brief item says ‘The European Parliament seeks explanations from the European Community’. The idea, says the Consejo de Informativos de TVE, is to confuse the viewer. More at Vozpópuli here.

Institutional advertising’ is a useful income for the Media. Adverts like ‘Eat Spanish Food’, or ‘Visit Andalucía’, are always welcome (especially in Andalucía). All public agencies spend a fortune on this laudable practice, except that, naturally, they want the Media in question to ease up on the hard-hitting stories as a ‘contraprestación’ (consideration). This is why you never see those adverts in the English-language freebies – they have no political power. A report from Crónica Global (El Español) cites the case of the Barcelona City Hall which spent 14.7 million euros in this type of advertising in 2015, of which a full half went to just two publishers – the Grupo Godó (La Vanguardia) earned itself 4.2m, the Grupo Zeta (El Periódico) took 2.7m, while the rest was shared among everyone else: Grupo Prisa (El Pais) earned just 0.2m euros in advertising. The Generalitat figures for 2015 have also been published, with a similar picture and similar favourite media. So, can you believe what you read, when there’s a large ‘Hooray for the Town Hall’ advert on the opposite page?

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Economics:

Brexit and Europe

by Andrew Brociner

As the initial shock of the referendum results has given way to yet more uncertainty, some perspective on the situation could be considered. The referendum was a clear miscalculation by the then Prime Minister, staking his future, the UK's and indeed possibly Europe's, on a political strategy. The Achilles' heel was immigration, a drum beaten by a few opportunistic leaders and echoed in the press. How much it is fair to let voters be swayed by the politics of the day is an open question, but it is intrinsically different from holding a referendum on a matter of sovereignty, such as, for instance, do the people of Gibraltar feel British? The tabloids too have their responsibility in separating fact from fiction. It would be good if this left the door open for a future referendum or to having article 50 indefinitely postponed, but no such luck is likely. What it does open the door to are other referendums. Scotland, for instance, will now surely want to hold its own referendum, given that its voters wanted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU. Ditto for Northern Ireland, albeit with its different issues. The consequences of the leave vote had many more implications than many people realized when they cast their disgruntled whinge-of-the-day vote.

The implications indeed are far-reaching: the break-up of the UK, the re-negotiation of trade agreements, the British abroad, the EU citizens in the UK, the pound, the markets, a mountain of legal issues to re-work, the economy, etc, etc, etc. Voters were tricked by opportunistic politicians such as Nigel Farage, misleading them into believing that with less immigration, the NHS would be somehow better and how much could be saved, producing fictitious numbers to back up their fallacious claims. Far from what these jokers said, the UK will be worse off. Economic growth thrives on free trade and impediments are a move backwards. The UK economy will shrink as a result. The IMF has, in fact, already lowered its forecast for 2017 to a mere 1.1%. And while it is true that the world economy, and of course, the European economy, does not have a very positive outlook in general, it is also true that as a consequence of leaving the EU, trade will decrease, as most of the UK's trade is with the EU, clearly affecting the UK economy.

Some other economic consequences derive from a decreasing pound. This process had already started in November 2015, in anticipation of the results, among other reasons, when it stood at 1.43 against the euro, as can be seen in the chart below. It has decreased steadily since then and is now around 1.11, and the forecast is for it to continue decreasing to parity by the end of 2017. What this implies for the economy is that the price of imports will increase and so will inflation. There are also, of course, those travelling or living abroad who will see a decrease in purchasing power.

The immigration crisis, an opportunity for Europe to show its solidarity – wasn't that part of what Europe was about? – only served to exacerbate its differences. And that is what fed into the hands of a few opportunistic politicians playing the xenophobic card to sway the vote. That far right-wing parties could gain ground in this context across other European countries is likely, with a weak economy and immigration issues providing an only too propitious backdrop to take advantage of. Far-right parties have gained votes recently in many European countries, such as Austria, Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland. And in many of these countries, such as Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland, the far right gets a very large percentage of votes. In fact, in Austria, the far-right party very narrowly lost in the second round and re-elections are set for later this year. In France, not many people doubt the FN will make it into the second round in the next elections. Some of these parties are not only anti-immigration, but also anti-EU. In this context, the UK vote is only symptomatic of a general problem facing Europe and it looks as though, as we move from one crisis to another, as from the Greek crisis to Brexit, the European project will be navigating in troubled waters.

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Various:

According to a survey by the Centre for Sociological Investigations (CIS), 71.6% of Spaniards see unemployment as one of the three main problems they face; 36.6% believe it is corruption and fraud; and 29.3% point to politics in general. Just 11.6% of Spaniards mentioned the country’s lack of government...’. From The Corner.

Okupas, those who live in someone else’s house, usually abandoned. They are called squatters in the UK. How to get rid of them? Enter a new ‘semi-legal’ service guaranteed to do the trick provided by a group of professional boxers called ‘Desokupa’. Well, it’s quicker than going through the courts... The story is at El Confidencial.

Why ‘Expat?’ - Expatriate is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as ‘A person who lives outside their native country.’ This definition is pretty much the same as immigrant and it is difficult to understand any logical demarcation between the two words...’ an opinion piece at The Olive Press (are you an ex-pat or an immigrant?).

An article at El Mundo about what is now ‘politically correct’ in Spain, or, the things you can’t say any longer.

Beer is good for your health? So say the beer manufacturers, but (sad to say), this is a complete fabrication. The explanation at Vozpópuli.

There’s a story of a child dying from incurable bone cancer who wants to be a bullfighter (just for one day). The bullfighting world has taken him to their heart and is collecting funds to help research the disease They also organised a corrida in Valencia, where the child was taken into the ring. But... to show the ‘passion’ of the anti-taurinos towards their point of view, at least in some extreme cases, Some of the ‘antis’ are ‘trolling’ for the child’s death on the Internet and now they naturally are being sued by the family with the help of the ‘Fundación Toro de Lidia’. El Mundo is appalled. Pacma, the animalist political party, fudges the issue and is unable to condemn the attacks while talking to a journalist from La Gaceta. An improbable plot may have been cooked up by toro supporters to make the anti-taurinos look bad (El País makes the silly suggestion). At any event, the twitter account at the centre of the row has been deactivated as, once again, the old arguments are raised.

Cut-throat bargaining in the vegetable sector, where the large supermarket chains and others can force prices below production costs, will soon be illegal in Andalucía with fines up to 800,000€ as the Junta passes the ‘Ley de Agricultura y Ganadería de Andalucía’.

...

See Spain:

From Marca España: ‘What do Spaniards love? What do they fear? What do they dream about? What do they believe in? ‘Spain in a Day’, the documentary directed by Isabel Coixet which was released last Friday, following its screening at the San Sebastian Film Festival, seeks to answer these questions. It is a special film because it has been put together thanks to the participation of Spanish people. On 24 October 2015, thousands of anonymous people recorded their experiences...’ and sent them in... Spain in a Day – the trailer is here.

The New York Times invites us to a property tour of the Costa del Sol. Well, just the one house – it’s located in the gated development of La Madroñal, Benahavís, and it is for sale at 2.6 million euros... Perhaps they’ll get a commission?

...

Letters:

I joined the Spanish Socialist Workers Party, the PSOE, about 17 years ago. My main goal was to help with my energy to take down the Popular Party government of José María Aznar.

I am not able to understand that now a majority of my party is prepared to even consider giving aid towards the formation of a government of the PP.

Furthermore, that the official head of the PSOE can claim that this is not an ideological issue but rather a "tactical" one leaves me absolutely flabbergasted.

Personally I would prefer that my party remains true to its principles and opposes the conservatives that have governed us so badly rather than this betrayal of its roots by looking away in some tactical fashion.

And please, do not bother to explain, I understand perfectly.

Tomás Elorrieta, General Secretary for the PSOE in El Ejido, Almería.

...

Finally:

In the mid-eighteenth century, the term bureaucracy entered the world by way of French literature. The neologism was originally forged as a nonsense term to describe what its creator, political economist Vincent de Gournay, considered the ridiculous possibility of “rule by office,” or, more literally, “rule by a desk.” Gournay’s model followed the form of more serious governmental terms indicating “rule by the best” (aristocracy) and “rule by the people” (democracy)...’. Fragment from an article by Lucy Ives at Lapham’s Quarterly.

 

Business Over Tapas 13 October 2016 Nº 181

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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