The Andalusian elections of December 2nd are interesting both for Andalucía and indeed for the rest of Spain. It’s assumed that Susana Díaz (generally known as La Susanita) will win – after all, the PSOE always does in Andalucía – but she will certainly need to join with one of the other three parties – led by Juan Manuel Moreno (PP), Teresa Rodríguez (Adelante Andalucía) or Juan Marín (Ciudadanos) – to form a government. These four candidates (who met in a televised debate on Monday) are, in national terms, only the second best, and thus the four leaders from Madrid are doing all they can to help support their party comrades, especially as a national election begins to appear possible in May next year.
Pablo Casado, for example, is in Fines (an obscure Almería pueblo) on Friday with his new and original motto ‘Guarantía de Cambio’. There are hopes from the AUAN (now extended to ‘Abusos Urbanísticos Andalucía - ¡No!’) that he will save the ‘illegal homes’ in the nearby communities (Facebook link). Note to politicians – we need to check in the thesaurus for a new and different word for ‘cambio’. One of his ideas for change, as he told them in Algeciras, was for a Gibraltar Español.
Albert Rivera from Ciudadanos (or ‘Albert Primo de Rivera’ as the Podemos are calling him) was saying in Cádiz this past Sunday that the Madrid PSOE hasn’t time for the old socialists in Andalucía, who would be better off supporting his candidate. ‘We are the cambio’, he said to the adoring crowd.
Teresa Rodríguez from the IU-Podemos clone Adelante Andalucía, is asking – oh, here we go – for ‘la alternacia’- she wants a switch rather than just a change.
Talking of change, pocket change that is, Susana Díaz, rather overdoing the ‘we’re all common folk’ card, this week declares her current account at the local bank to stand at just 81€, plus a few bits and bobs she has stashed elsewhere. El Mundo says, poor woman, that she is ‘condemned to hug her worst enemy Pedro Sánchez who beat her in the primaries’. All for the sake of the Party.
El País asks here, ‘why does the PSOE always win in Andalucía?’ The answers seem to be a mixture of tradition, a historical dislike of the right, innumerable obligations to those in power, and a couple of historic socialist champions from Seville (Felipe Gónzalez and his wing-man Alfonso Guerra). As one politician admits in the article – Andalucía has been at the tail of Europe for forty years, but the people still support the same party...
Besides the four contenders, we have two small parties that will skim a few votes: PACMA, the eccentric animalist party (Bizcocho for president), and the sinister-sounding far-right Vox which could even take one seat in the San Telmo parliament in Seville (see them here).
From El País in English: ‘Mortgage interest rates in Spain no longer among Europe’s cheapest. Analysts are now waiting to see if lenders will raise them further to offset new cost of a controversial tax’. The story here.
From the Goop Catalogue: ‘...for $172,910 (£134,837) you can buy an abandoned village near Lugo in Galicia in north-west Spain. One 360 sq metre house has a new roof and has mains water and electricity. According to the estate agent, Aldeas Abandonadas (Abandoned Villages), it doesn’t require much work. There is also a 22 sq metre bread oven, a cellar, a hay barn and an hórreo – a typical Galician stone building used for drying maize...’. The story comes from The Guardian here.
Lenox joins the ‘Seniors’ on Monday when he reaches the grand old age of 65! A bus pass, a modest pension? Maybe not the second of those two...
The Government can’t get a majority in most cases through parliament, but they can still issue decrees. ElDiario.es looks at what could be coming soon, including the Minimum Wage (increased to 900€), increases in company tax, increases in pensions and better rent protection.
‘In new blow to blocked budget, Brussels slams Spain’s plan. The EU thinks the Spanish economy will deviate significantly from medium-term goals, and warns about the need for new structural reforms’. Headline from El País in English here.
Wolf Street always has the goods: ‘Resurrected Abengoa & Construction Giant OHL Flirt with Collapse. The past five days have been brutal for two once-emblematic Spanish companies, Abengoa and OHL. Four years ago, the two firms were among the 35 largest listed companies in Spain. Abengoa was a world leader in the renewable energy sector, with operations across the globe. OHL was a global construction colossus that was involved in one of the world’s most ambitious and costly infrastructure projects, the high-speed railway line between the Saudi Arabian cities of Mecca and Medina...’.
El País assures its readers that ‘Hacienda is keeping an eye on 15,000 taxpayers who operate with crypto-currencies and says they will investigate the capital gains of operations with these currencies and also see if they are used to launder money.
All praise to the mayoress of Madrid Manuela Carmena who has halved the city’s debt from 5,600 million euros in four years. ElDiario.es has the story here.
‘Shameful’, a ‘grave error’, ‘an embarrassment’ or ‘an imprudence’ were the comments heard by the PP after the publication of some WhatsApp messages by Ignacio Cosidó, the party spokesman (and ex-director of the police) in the Senate regarding the deal to divvy up the CGPJ. The reference to "controlling the Second Chamber from behind" has outraged the Judiciary and left not only the PP but also the forces with which they agreed to renew the Judicial Power in an unsustainable situation. The consequences were not long in coming: Judge Manuel Marchena, the conservative magistrate whom the PP had elevated to the presidency of the Supreme Court in exchange for a slim majority of progressive members, has resigned. All this of course leaves the earlier judge in control of the Supreme Court, the ‘controversial Carlos Lesmes’ (here). The deal (where behind-the-door politics chooses the Supreme Court) is now in pieces. ‘It’s the beginning of the end of a shameful system’, says Vozpópuli here.
The Minister of Economy Nadia Calviño has been fiddling her taxes, according to the three main opposition parties, and they want her sacked, says the ABC here.
Ciudadanos have a bus driving around Madrid through Saturday attacking Pedro Sánchez in a message. This one says ‘No Pardons, Elections Now’.
‘From today, every time you call us Rebels, we will call you Fascists’, Deputy Joan Tardà from ERC tells Ciudadanos off in the Cortes here. Later, the official parliamentary diary was ordered to remove both words (golpista and fascista) from its pages.
‘The rise of the populist Vox may seem like good news for the left because it fragments the vote of the right. But it is terrible news for Spain because it normalises the discourse on racism, which is toxic for the coexistence of society’. Ignacio Escolar here.
The Senate condemned el franquismo on Wednesday (with the abstention of the PP and Ciudadanos).
Two thankfully obscure groups met in Madrid the other day – fascists and femens. The bellicose event was recorded by The Olive Press here.
El País publishes a leader on Almería – a forgotten province.
The Ministry of Industry isn’t above using Google Translate when the feeling takes them. How do we know this? They forgot to check on a document which was lovingly rendered into English leaving their expert Dolores del Campo re-baptised as ‘It is pain of field’.
One in four Europeans now supports ‘populist’ parties says The Guardian here.
Pablo Casado campaigning in Andalucía (with a reference to Franco's exhumation): "Sanchez is very hard on the dead and very cowardly on the living". Indeed, Pablo Casado has twice as many speeches to give in Andalucía as his candidate Juan Manuel Moreno and he ‘is risking his party leadership’ in the Andalusian elections, says El País.
‘Neither 3%, 4% nor even 10%: apparently in Andalucía the party that has been in power even longer than Franco himself, was used to charging a commission of 33%. The former president of the Junta for 19 years, Manuel Chaves, has appeared in the Senate by the commission of inquiry into party funding and has heard him detail the "chilling" 115,000 million pesetas (680 million euros) that had been defrauded in the ERE through a system described in his prosecution anti-corruption case to be designed specifically as "opaque" and "arbitrary"...’. The source is the rightist Digital Sevilla here.
Following some electioneering from the Partido Popular (‘Casado accuses Sánchez of treason in not insisting on a Spanish Gibraltar’), the Government is now hardening its stance. From El País in Spain comes ‘Spain demands greater “clarity” on Gibraltar in Brexit deal. Government wants to change the agreement to make it clear that future negotiations on The Rock are not included in the pact’. More here. On Wednesday evening, news came from The Gibraltar Chronicle to say that a deal had been reached between Spain and the UK, concentrating on ‘...a framework for cooperation with Spain on issues including citizens’ rights, tobacco, the environment, police and customs matters, and taxation...’.
A warning about Independent Financial Advisors (generally speaking, wouldn’t you prepare your portfolio and investments before you left your home country?). The article is about Continental Wealth Management, based on the Costa Blanca, which closed down a year ago.
From The Guardian here: ‘As Britain agonises over its destiny, I’ve been in Brussels discovering what other Europeans think about Brexit – and therefore what real options Britain still has. Essentially, there are just two. Europe’s door is still open for Britain to stay, if we vote to do so in a second referendum, preferably before the European elections in late May. Otherwise, most of our fellow Europeans would rather we left on 29 March, leaving everything else to be sorted out later and allowing them to get on with confronting their own big challenges...’.
From an opinion piece in The Guardian: ‘...Populist promises such as the one she made this morning to stop EU migrants “jumping the queue” spread resentment towards European citizens like me. Not only did we play no part in this mess, but we work here legally and contribute to the country in many different ways. We did not “jump the queue” but exercised the same general right of freedom of movement that allows British people to work in Berlin and Paris, or retire in Spain. Even so, our reward seems to be an increasingly hostile atmosphere, and infinite red tape when we attempt to apply for permanent residency to set our minds at rest...’. And if the EU27 plays as basely as the British...?
‘Spain's foreign minister said Tuesday that an independent Scotland could rejoin the European Union after Brexit -- and warned of the United Kingdom's "weakness". Previously, Madrid has been seen as an obstacle to Scotland joining Europe, as it faces its own Catalan separatists' demands. But, with Britain to leave the EU on March 29th, Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said that if Scotland follows a legal path to leave the UK it could come back. "Why not, if they leave Britain in accordance with their internal regulations?" Borrell asked, in an interview with the Politico EU news site...’. The Local has the story here.
From Reuters here: ‘Expatriates not protected enough by draft Brexit deal - rights groups. Rights groups representing expatriates in the European Union and Britain warned on Thursday the draft Brexit deal did not ensure that the more than four million people concerned would be able to go on living their lives as now...’.
‘British residents lament their loss of movement over Brexit’, says Levante here. ‘Michael Harris, President of Eurocitizens, considers that the Brussels-London agreement restricts freedoms for expatriate and working Britons’.
Opinion from The New Yorker: ‘The Brexit Fantasy Goes Down in Tears’. Heh. Here.
Following the change in national politics last summer, one of the affected public agencies was the Spanish TV, the RTVE. Several politically-appointed journalists were fired or demoted. Three of them are now suing the Government for loss of earnings ‘over ideological grounds’ says ElDiario.es here.
From PV Magazine two months ago, but it’s such a good story: ‘Farewell to Spain’s solar tax. The Spanish Cabinet has approved a royal decree, which introduces a package of urgent measures to boost the country’s energy transition. It includes the already announced elimination of the “sun tax”, and other important measures, such as compliance with renewable energy objectives, electric vehicle adoption, reduced electricity prices, a social bonus for heating, consumer protection measures, and the extension of an electric social bond’.
‘Andalusian beekeepers warn ‘fake’ Chinese products are ruining Cordoba honey industry
The amount of honey produced in the province is down 40% to 50% percent compared to last year’. Item from The Olive Press here.
‘The Health Ministry will not include homeopathy and acupuncture in the list of pseudo-therapies until they have both undergone a "rigorous" analysis’ says 20 Minutos here. The Ministry has also decided not to label olive oil with the new NutriScore labelling system after it was, uh, found to score worse than Coca-Cola! (Indeed, the whole NutriScore deal has since been ‘pulled’ after Coca-Cola, Mondelez, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever all left the program).
Brico Depot is closing its 31 stores in Spain, say the owners, Kingfisher. The story here.
From the ABC here: ‘This is Amancio Ortega's great real estate empire. The interactive map shows the main properties that the founder of Inditex owns around the world...’. His real-estate division, Pontegadea, is worth some 7,000 million euros.
A mother and daughter were killed by their dogs this Wednesday in Madrid. So far this year, five people have died in Spain from dog attacks. El País has the report here.
A silly story about Spanish customs from Lenox’ Blog here.
El País visits Albarracín (Teruel), the ‘most beautiful pueblo in Spain’ here.
Discovering Local Wines + Raisins at the Málaga Wine Museum with Molly at Piccavey here.
Visit the popular resort of Sitges with Catalonia Today here.
I think it is very childish of certain people in Los Angeles to claim that Columbus was genocidal. If they do not like the statue any more let them ship it over to Spain, the Spaniards will certainly find a suitable place for him.
Shakira and Maluma – Clandestino. A bit racy, but a nice song. YouTube here.