Pedro Sánchez has done it – he has somehow climbed from the abyss of de-selection just eighteen months ago, to a party with just 20% approval only last week and now to the very top of Spanish politics, leaving – notably – Susana Díaz, Mariano Rajoy and Albert Rivera to lick their wounds as they consider their own ‘what ifs’ and mistakes in the Game of Thrones. On Saturday, Pedro Sánchez became the prime minister of Spain.
His enemies are everywhere – with the Partido Popular passing around a press-kit to editors and commentators, including the charge of a ‘Frankenstein Government’, due to the make-up of his support (180 deputies from the PSOE, Union Podemos, ERC, PDeCAT, PNV, Bildum and Nueva Canarias – all with their own agendas). The PSOE itself, indeed, has fifty less deputies than the PP, the leading opposition party.
The debate and vote went through smoothly enough last Thursday and Friday, with Mariano Rajoy – perhaps oddly – refusing to resign his post, preferring to go down in flames instead (probably due in part to future cases of corruption on the books). The Senado however is unaffected and remains in PP hands. What could they do there to salvage their loss (even at the cost of Spain’s reputation and the Spanish people)? Perhaps start by voting down the very national budget that they, as a government, had approved just a week ago.
Pedro Sánchez was born in Madrid in 1972, speaks excellent English and French (here he is speaking against Brexit), he’s a committed atheist and he owns an apartment in Mojácar (heh!). His wife is Begoña Gómez (here).
And what of Rajoy? ‘The Former PM Mariano Rajoy and his team await a cushy future. Members of the defeated Popular Party government can return to their civil servant positions, and most also retain their MP status’, says El País in English here. But who will take over from Don Mariano following a slightly surprising resignation as party leader on Tuesday? The two leading choices – Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and María Dolores de Cospedal, are at daggers drawn, says El Diario here. A third possibility is Alberto Núñez Feijóo (here). Rajoy has apparently not chosen any favourite (here).
As part of the fallout with Sánchez preparing to move to his new home at La Moncloa, the shredders there were hard at work apparently. We were also treated to the news that 1,300 (no doubt rather surprised) advisors of the outgoing government would also be out of a job.
But, even in Spain, life goes on...
From ABC: ‘The Junta de Andalucía has only regularized 25,000 illegal homes in the last fifteen years. Town planning regulations have changed 12 times since 2002 in response to a problem affecting 250,000 houses’.
Sad news – one of the few non-British foreign local politicians has resigned from their town hall. Maura Hillen, the president of the AUAN, has left her seat (she was a senior councillor in Albox) through disagreement with her party – the PSOE-A – and its mismanagement of the ‘illegal housing’ crisis. The title from the local paper: ‘The president of AUAN resigns as councillor in Albox giving thanks to the PP for their vote in favour of the motion that was approved this Friday in the Provincial Council while reproaching the Socialists for their abstention’. The PP had agreed to a change in the planning laws (POUA).
According to Tecnohotel, quoting Trivago, the prime destinations for foreign visitors this summer are Barcelona, Benidorm and Madrid. Spaniards are considering Benidorm, Madrid and Peñiscola apparently. These figures are based on a minimum of three days in a hotel and the rest of the Top Ten appear to be Salou, Roquetas de Mar, Barcelona, Torremolinos, Costa Adeje, Benalmádena and Mojácar.
The Thai-owned Minor Chain takes 26.5% of NH hotels and will launch a takeover bid for the rest of the company says El Mundo here.
As the political debate and no-confidence vote was held in the Cortes last week, the electric companies fell sharply on the stock exchange. Bolsamanía explains: ‘The Ibex 35 electricity companies listed on the stock exchange recorded losses on Thursday after Pédro Sánchez announced his objective of abolishing the so-called 'tax on the sun'. This ‘impuesto al sol' defended by the Partido Popular consists of a backup toll paid by auto-consumers with more than 10 kw contracted to stay connected to the electricity grid. At the beginning of May, PSOE, Unidos Podemos-En Comú Podem-En Marea, ERC, PDeCAT, PNV, Compromís, EH-Bildu and Nueva Canarias registered a new bill to promote energy self-consumption and repeal this toll...’.
‘The number of jobless people registered in the public employment services’ offices fell by 83,738 in May compared to the previous month (-2.5%). This was less than the decline in the months of May in the period 2013-2017, but more than it dropped by between 2009 and 2012, the caretaker Ministry for Labour and Social Security said on Monday. The total number of unemployed stood at 3.252.130 at end-May, the lowest level since December 2008, according to the caretaker Ministry. From the highs of February 2018, the number of jobless people has fallen by nearly 1.8 million people...’. From The Corner here.
By the middle of the week, most of the ministerial places had been announced. These are Carmen Calvo as Vice-president and Minister for Equality (here), Teresa Ribera as Minister for Climate Change, Energy and the Environment (here) and José Borrell as Foreign Minister (here). Borrell is firmly against Catalonian independence (here). The new Minister for Hacienda is a ‘susanísta’ called María Jesús Montero and Nadia Calviño becomes Minister for the Economy (here), the Minister for Regional Administrations is Meritxell Batet and the Ministry of Development goes to José Luis Ábalos (here). Carmen Monton takes Sanidad (here). Minister of Science and Innovation goes to Spain’s astronaut Pedro Duque (here). Isabel Celaá takes Education (here) and Dolores Delgado becomes the Minister for Justice (here). The Minister for Employment is Magdalena Valerio (here) and Margarita Robles takes Defence (here). The Ministry of Culture and Sport goes to Màxim Huerta and Luis Planas becomes Minister for Agriculture, Fish and Food (here). Reyes Maroto takes the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism (here) and the important post of Minister of the Interior goes to Fernando Grande-Marlaska (here). Seventeen ministers in all, of which eleven are women. The full list at La Ser here.
Pedro Sánchez’ ‘Ten Point Plan’, was issued in January, here. These concentrate on pensions, education, science and reindustrialization, wages agreements, gender equality, ‘the rescue of young people’, water policy and a minimum living income...
‘The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, spoke on Monday with Pedro Sánchez to congratulate him on his promotion to the Presidency of the Spanish Government, while reiterating the British interest in maintaining bilateral contacts on Gibraltar. "The Prime Minister congratulated Sánchez on his new role, stressing that Spain is a close ally and that we share a long history of friendship and cooperation and that she hopes to continue working together on all issues of common interest and objectives, including close cooperation on security and trade links", said a spokesman for Downing Street in a statement. May emphasised that "the UK is leaving the EU but not Europe". "Our relationship with the EU and its member states will always be extremely important to us," she reiterated. In this regard, the two leaders agreed on the importance of protecting the rights of Spaniards in the United Kingdom and of the British in Spain after the Brexit...’. From Teleprensa here.
The Senado could be a large thorn in Sánchez’ side, as it is controlled by the Partido Popular, but a little-known clause in the Constitucíon allows the Presidente to dissolve the Senado when he sees fit! How about them onions?
The Partido Popular is to hold a congress – probably in the latter half of July – to choose a new leader says El Mundo here. The Local adds: ‘..."My intention is to definitely abandon politics, there are other things to do in life than dedicate oneself to politics," Rajoy said during an interview with Cadena Cope. "I had an enormously intense political life and I think it makes no sense to stay longer here," the 63-year-old said, adding he would not attend an emergency party congress in July to elect his successor...’.
An editorial in the once-upon-a-time progressive El País in English last week: ‘Time to Listen to the People’. The paper is in favour of early elections.
20 Minutos looks at the reverse for Albert Rivera and his Ciudadanos here: ‘The PSOE's motion of censure which takes Pedro Sánchez to the Moncloa leaves a clear victim: Ciudadanos. The Socialists have finally achieved their goal of overthrowing the government of Mariano Rajoy. The Populares are leaving but are counting on a very possible return in the next general elections, trusting in the loyalty of their voters (sic.). But Rivera stays in the middle, facing both tyrants and Trojans, and with everyone waiting for the Orange Party to deflate...’. La Vanguardia says the PP blame Albert Rivera for their fall, by pushing the PNV towards supporting the no-confidence vote.
The Basque public TV EiTB has made a 12 minute exposé of Ciudadanos called ‘'Operación Ciudadanos: qué hay detrás?'. Is the party closely linked to Big Business? Find out here.
How to keep Susana Díaz in line – ‘Five gestures that Pedro Sánchez can make with Andalucía to maintain the non-aggression pact with Díaz’. These are discussed at El Diario here.
Tim Parfitt discusses the current duplicity in Spanish politics. He’s hard to disagree with...
Giles Tremlett writing in The Guardian: ‘Rajoy is gone. Can Pedro Sánchez tackle the corruption plaguing Spain? After years of conservative-led scandal and turmoil, the new prime minister must show social democracy still has teeth’.
From El Diario: ‘Corruption isn’t over with the passing of Rajoy’. Here. And from VozPópuli comes ‘The sentence of the first part of the Gürtel Inquiry, which has led to the motion of censure and the departure of Mariano Rajoy from the presidency of the Government, is by no means the last of the judicial calvaries that the PP will have to face in the coming months. With three separate pieces convicted and a fourth pending, seven other cases are still under investigation in which, directly or indirectly, the irregular financing of the conservative formation with Gürtel, although there are also indications in other inquiries like the Lezo and Punica...’.
‘Madrid’s direct rule has ended in Catalunya after the new regional government was sworn in over the weekend. Catalunyan nationalists have regained control following the ceremony on Saturday, with Quim Torra leading the government. The region’s autonomy was frozen in October following the pro-independence referendum, which was declared illegal by Spanish courts...’. From The Olive Press here.
Might. Maybe. Doubt. Wouldn't it be nice if somebody put us straight? Let's compare Brits in the EU (the UK now claims 900,000) to other groups. We are twice as many as the population of Malta. Or Manchester. We are 250 times the population of the Falklands. We are 30 times the population of Gibraltar. In Norfolk UK, which has a similar population of 900,000 souls, there are nine MPs - while we have no voice at all (and no information about our future).
(We couldn’t resist this one) ‘As the reality of Brexit sinks in, members of Britain’s cabinet and leading Brexiteers have turned on one another, while attempting to cast blame on everyone but themselves. The UK must plunge ahead, they insist, because that was “the will of the people," while they prepare their excuses for the impending debacle...’. An article titled ‘The Appalling failure of Brexit’ by Chris Patten is at Project Syndicate here.
As the Census Board sends out its instruction to the town halls, it seems clear now that the British residents in Spain will lose their right to vote. More at Spanish Shilling here.
Maldita.es is Spain’s answer to Snopes. The website exposes fake news. Media-tics takes a look at the site here. To check Maldita.es home page go here.
Not the usual 100 days ‘wait and see’ from the TVE news (here and here).
There are over 3,000 digital media in Spain, says Media-tics here. Most of these are commercial, living from advertising. Some few others are financed by political or social groups. Only 363 live (vaguely) from subscriptions. Business over Tapas is one of these.
The Argentinean Cotorra, a large and screechy green parrot, has accustomed itself so well to Madrid’s public parks, that escaped examples of this bird have formed large colonies and are becoming a serious pest. El Español reaches for its bird-gun here.
A judge from Lugo has been making some extra pin-money as a clairvoyant. The Keeper of the Law-books, when not reading the Tarot, is now in some trouble says El País here.
The new Minister for Culture, journalist Màxim Huerta, has an agreeably low opinion of television. Interviewed on LaSexta, he says: "watching the TV doesn't turn you you a jackass, it only illuminates the person who already is one".
Just when we thought we had Spanish place-names down pat, Castellón has changed its official name to Castelló.
In Córdoba, a company is not paying its three female workers in back-pay because the contract says ‘empleados’ (queue the explanation that the masculine collective includes both sexes). More at La Ser here.
‘After a decade’s absence, popular alternative circus Cirque du Soleil returns to Málaga this month with its new acrobatic spectacular, Totem. Expected to attract a Big Top crowd of 2,500 spectators on opening night alone, the show is in town for the entire month of June. Popular with all ages for its theatrical, character-driven approach and absence of performing animals, each show is a synthesis of circus styles from around the world, with its own central theme and storyline...’. From The Olive Press here.
The list of the world’s most useful visa-free passports is here. Singapore is the best, apparently.
Mike Arkus and his blog series on ‘Andalusia, the road less travelled’, today travels on to the magnificent cliff-top Ronda and its iconic bridge here.
‘La Albufera was declared a Nature Reserve in 1986, and since 1989 it is recognised as “Wetland of International Importance”. It is the largest lake in Spain and one of the most important wetlands in the Iberian Peninsula. It’s a place of great ecological interest in which unique species of aquatic birds hibernate. Its rich waters have traditionally served as a support for fishermen and rice farmers, giving rise to a rich gastronomic culture...’. From ‘A Must when Visiting Valencia’ at Eye on Spain here.
Another good one on the complex political side since Gürtel, and the info on Brexit and free movement....bit of a worry!
A basic problem with the political system is also to blame. No “MPs” here, nor for that matter any politician that actually represents a constituency or even a region. In effect their only responsibility and loyalty is to the party and its leader. Those outside the cabinet don’t have much party clout and as “deputies”, not “representatives”, they don’t have to play the usual baby kissing, meet the people, support local initiatives, etc. efforts to get re-elected. Thus they are not only out of contact, but often have distain for the electorate. So they don’t have to or want to stand up in public and take personal criticism, or advice. Same thing at the town hall level, also for the European Parliament as far as the Spanish electoral lists are concerned – it’s all done by the parties.
Pedro Sánchez wins the no-confidence vote in Los Cortes here on YouTube.