How much do our governments represent the citizenry rather than the corporations? Not much, evidently. We all know about the ‘Sun Tax’, designed in the interest of the power companies, even though solar is now cheaper than fossil. We (a peaceful nation), know of our alarming arms sales, which provides jobs and wealth (and, evidently, suffering elsewhere in the world). We know how the banks make a profit from us, and if for some reason they don’t, how the taxpayer must save them.
Now, we read that we, the People, must save a number of toll roads, since they didn’t create enough (or perhaps any) profit for the always hungry investors: large corporations with interesting people in the board-rooms, and friends in High Places.
A major study, in pdf, comes from the Observatorio Europeo de Gerontomigraciones titled ‘España como Lugar Europeo de Retiro’: Spain as a retirement destination.
‘Costa little more: Spain questions its tourism strategy. Its sun and beaches attract millions, but what they spend is falling, prompting a push for wealthier visitors attracted by its food and culture’. Headline from The Guardian. More tourists than ever in 2016, notes the article, but around 10% are thought to have chosen Spain over another Mediterranean destination because of terrorism fears, and – worse still – the average spend is slightly down.
It’s no secret that the hotels don’t like private rentals. Here’s an article from Sur in English titled: ‘Holiday rentals now represent 30 per cent of tourist accommodation in Malaga. There are about 30,000 beds available and in municipalities such as Nerja, Rincón de la Victoria and Casares there is more availability than in local hotels’. An excerpt: ‘...As the proportion of rental accommodation in the province grows (at present the number of places available in registered rental properties is just over 30 per cent of that in hotels), greater vigilance is needed regarding properties which are rented to tourists...’. Quite.
As banks tighten their belts, the Banco Sabadell has announced that it will close 250 offices across Spain in 2017, with a loss of around 800 jobs. Story at El País here.
The AVE between Valencia and Madrid claims to have carried thirteen million passengers in the last six years, says Hosteltur.
‘Measures have been unveiled to make it easier for businesses to move from England to Spain. The Spanish government’s plans include an ability to submit paperwork in English, gain fast-track authorisation for financial companies looking to relocate and not imposing any more rules than already exist within the EU...’. From The Olive Press.
‘Podemos was born to fight for changes, not to look at our navel’, says Pablo Iglesias on a video aimed at his supporters. He apologises for the current rifirafi between himself and his second Iñigo Errejón. He says: ‘..."To all who trust in us, please forgive me, I know that we are shaming you. To all of you who were encouraged, those who thought we were different and now doubt your senses, to those who can’t make it to the end of the month and yet donated 50 or 100 euros to make an election campaign without asking a euro to the banks and now must see us like this ... forgive me for having to endure this shame" says Iglesias...’. Ideal has the story and the video here.
What news of Pedro Sánchez? He should be the leader of a new, reformed PSOE according to his supporters following a recent meeting in Madrid. A bland report at El Huff Post here. The Olive Press also covers the story: ‘Sixty eight politicians from across Spain rallied in Madrid to plead with the former PSOE general secretary to stand for re-election to the top job at the party’s 2017 congress...’. Sanchez himself gives his thanks but, for the time being, he stays quiet.
Joan Coma, from the anti-capitalist CUP party in Catalonia, becomes the first politician in the region to be arrested for sedition. He can be imprisoned with between ten and fifteen years in found guilty. Story at El Mundo here. The story receives indignant attention from Vilaweb in English: ‘Councilman’s arrest shows Francoism is alive and well in Spanish institutions. «Call it what you may, but you would never witness this sequence of events in any other democracy in the world»’.
El Diario studies ‘Brexit faces the Article 50: there’s a lot to do’. There’s not much information for the EU immigrants to the UK, according to Marea Granate Londres, which has started a new campaign of awareness and rights for the Spaniards living there. The group also wants to help advise the British expats living in Spain over what may be in store. Their webpage here, their Facebook page here. Marea Granate Londres is a member of Another Europe is Possible (webpage).
The number of Britons seeking another European nationality is growing, Express News reports here. The still modest numbers across Europe are up by 250% over 2015... The article notes that the Spanish interior ministry has nevertheless declined to release any details on the subject for the situation here in Spain.
A Spaniard who has spent five years in Bristol says he is now home in Spain. Commenting on the UKIP racist party he says ‘..."It's false! It's false what they say about foreign workers. There is a contradiction in their speeches: they say that foreigners come to steal work and collect social aid, but the profile of a foreigner looking to work in the United Kingdom is that of a healthy young man, a person with education ... they won’t be taking much out of the Social Security. In addition, these people help to sustain the economy, because they have high salaries and they pay taxes"...’. El País relishes the story here.
Who do we angle our news stories towards, asks El Diario. Apparently, a consumer known by the acronym BBVA - Burgués Blanco, Varón y Adulto – a white adult male. The article explores the painfully slow rise of feminism in news reporting.
‘The 2016 edition of the traditional televised Christmas message recorded by Spain’s king appears to have fallen somewhat flat, as it achieved the lowest ratings for the slot in 18 years. Almost six million (5.82 million) Spaniards watched King Felipe VI’s broadcast on Christmas Eve, 844,000 fewer than last year. Its 57.6 percent audience share was 7.5 points lower than 2015, meanwhile...’. Found at The Local.
The smallest selling newspapers in Spain are ‘El Día de Córdoba’ at 1.065 copies and the ‘Diario de Almería’ at 1,556 copies daily. Four others in Spanish together with the ‘Mallorca Daily Bulletin’ in English all manage under 2,000 copies daily. The largest newspaper continues to be El País at 185,084 copies, followed by La Vanguardia beating out El Mundo into third place (all according to the OJD). Media-tics says that advertisers are leaving the traditional press, following the downward slope in sales (El País and El Mundo, for example, have both fallen 20% just in 2016). Advertising revenues for all print newspapers in 2007 was 2,027 million euros, and this year, the expected figure is just 561 million...
More on the Recent Populist Trend
by Andrew Brociner
The old left – right divide has now given way to a populist approach which has a broad-based appeal and can connect with voters across party lines. The disconnection from traditional political colours also admits leaders with no political experience, as is the case in the US, Italy, and Spain. Moreover, this is even seen as an advantage, as branding oneself as an outsider against the establishment appeals to those voters who felt they were not being heard.
In France, Marine Le Pen, to distance herself from her father's xenophobic and anti-Semitic stance, had to change the party's image to become more mainstream, in an attempt to gain wider appeal. Anyone running against her, such as Fillon, has had to, conversely, radicalize their approach, discarding establishment ties and presenting a programme with which ordinary citizens and the marginalised can connect. For decades, both left and right wing parties threw away much of their ideological differences to conquer the centre where most of the votes lay, with both espousing much the same neoliberal approach – which shows just how much the left threw away its ideology. Blair was a case in point, but there are numerous others. It looks like to gain territory with voters, you now not only have to be anti-establishment, but you have to gain the ground on the far right as well. If the far right is trying to move mainstream, the mainstream is moving far right. Many far right elements are now accepted – something which took hold during the US elections, with its KKK affiliations, anti-immigration stance, isolationist politics, incendiary rhetoric, intolerance, etc, etc. Fillon has had to include anti-immigration plans in his campaign, as well as a smaller government. Some of the proposals of the FN were once looked upon with shame in France, and yet, we now have a situation in which the final run off will probably be between two parties offering some common elements.
Italy's Five Star Movement offers a hotchpotch of incongruent proposals. It therefore is different from its counterparts in Greece and Spain, which are radical left, in that it does not place itself on the left or the right. What it does have in common, however, is that it is anti-establishment. In this sense, it hopes to appeal to voters who were left out. It too is populist and fighting against political corruption. It does, however, in its potpourri of proposals, have some far right elements, such as anti-immigration and euro-scepticism. And now that the premier has resigned, this party, which has incorporated these elements, will seek elections.
In the Netherlands too, the popularity gained by the Party for Freedom, with its anti-immigration and anti-European stances, is having some effect on the incumbent left wing party. The recent burqa ban is seen as a move further to the right, to take voters away from the Freedom Party. Thus, here too, the appeal of the far right is moving the mainstream in its direction.
So, it appears that while populist parties are gaining much territory recently, providing a voice for the people who have felt left out by the establishment which has been out of touch with its electorate and mired in corruption, at the same time, far right proposals are gaining appeal, profiting from some of the causes of the day, such as immigration, protectionism, and the European Union.
The Global Peace Index measures the level of peace and the absence of violence in a country or region. By country, Spain, at 25th out of 163, is of course, a secure and peaceful country (although it has dropped four places since 2015). All the rest... at Expansión here.
‘Spain’s two main parties reach deal in fight against fuel poverty. The agreement would guarantee electricity supply to country’s poorest households all-year round’. A headline found at El País in English.
Twenty-one Spanish films released in 2016 were seen by less than 100 spectators, says Europa Press here. The smallest viewing numbers, at just four for a modest take of fourteen euros, were recorded by ‘Manolo Tena, un extraño en el paraíso', a film released in October this year.
‘Eighty years after Federico García Lorca was murdered in the early days of the Spanish civil war, an unfinished play by the poet and dramatist has finally been completed and given a title. Lorca had written only the first section of the three-act work, known until now as Comedia sin título, or Play Without a Title, when he was killed by a fascist death squad near Granada in August 1936. Eight decades on, another Spanish playwright and poet, Alberto Conejero, has taken up where Lorca left off, adding two acts to the play now known as El sueño de la vida, or The Dream of Life...’. Found at The Guardian here.
‘European public television networks are facing a double challenge: financial sustainability and adaptation to the digital ecosystem. Every country has its own model, and while the Spanish version is not the most expensive, it has faced the most severe funding cuts. A study headed up by the University of Santiago de Compostela has revealed that the cost of the public audiovisual service – both on a state and regional level – is below the European Union average. Public network RTVE and its regional equivalents cost €38.90 per inhabitant, compared to the EU average of €66.90...’. From El País in English.
‘Yo no soy esa’: a good ‘feminist’ video/song comes from La Coruna, from March this year on YouTube.
Business Over Tapas 29 December 2016 Nº 189
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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