Spanish politics may not be of huge interest to foreign residents (perhaps because we can’t vote in most elections, and often don’t want to vote in those we can), but they do affect the lives of all who live in Spain (or who invest here) and with the slew of elections coming up, they are certainly worth watching.
Not that we have quite reached the stage of what the various parties have in mind for their country so much as what they happen to think of their rival factions. Or perhaps, to fine-tune the above, what proposals, squabbles or situations the media want to report, discuss or even in some cases create. They might even get a TV leader-debate going.
Which is always fun.
There are the five main (constitutionalist) choices for Spaniards plus, in some regions, the separatists (whereas local village politics having an infinity of parties).
The Big Five, to treat them all fairly, are divided into two groups – the Left and the Right. On the Left, there is the PSOE and Podemos/IU, versus on the Right, the Partido Popular, Ciudadanos and Vox. Thus, attacks and insults against future allies, reported (or created) by the media, are a red herring in that the voters should know that their preferred future government, led by the PSOE or the PP (we can be sure) will inevitably be enlivened by the minority parties of either Unidos Podemos and its allies on the one side, or by Ciudadanos and Vox on the other.
In short, with one thing and another, and short of any post-election surprise (from the slightly unreliable ‘liberal y progresista’ Ciudadanos), we have the PSOE and friends versus the PP and friends. Most Spaniards would be sure that their vote for one of the other three would merely season the mix of the future government at best.
Perhaps the way for many would be to look at it as – which would be worse in the next government – a sprinkle of Podemos or a pinch of Vox?
City rents: ‘Alicante is among the cheapest cities in Spain in which to rent a property, a report has found. Appraisal company TecniTasa found that Alicante, Elche, Castellón de la Plana, Almería and Huelva were the most economic places for renting properties, based on price per square metre. Barcelona was the city with the highest rent, where properties on the central Paseo de Gracia can charge €36 per square metre...’. Found at The Olive Press here.
Also from The Olive Press comes ‘The Brits have not stopped investing in Spanish property with a 12% rise in purchases last year’.
Tourist figures are expected to soften this year, reports El Mundo quoting Exceltur. ‘...The newly elected president of Exceltur, Gabriel Escarrer, vice president and CEO of Meliá Hotels, warned that this change in the cycle that will affect Spanish tourism is mainly influenced by the slowdown of economies in some of the most important issuing markets and by the recovery of competing Mediterranean destinations such as Egypt and Turkey. To this is added "the complicated Spanish political scene" with many elections in sight...’.
From El País in English comes some positive news: ‘The Spanish economy set to keep growing despite global uncertainty. But the Bank of Spain warns about spending measures and says the next government to come out of the general election should prepare for a downturn’.
From El País comes ‘122,000 nominee companies are under study by the tax-office. A new real-owners registry is being created to understand who is behind the control of companies active in Spain to fight against money laundering’. An excerpt. ‘...The registry is taking its first steps, but there is already valuable data: it has detected 122,040 companies in the chain of control of others, which are known as interposed or nominee companies. Of these, 89% are domiciled in Spain while almost 14,000 are in other states. The Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg lead the list, but there are almost 300 companies in countries that the European Union includes in its very restricted list of tax havens (such as Saudi Arabia, with 122). Also listed, Andorra, Panama, Gibraltar or the British Virgin Islands, designated by Tax Justice Network as not very transparent, amount to more than a thousand companies...’.
From The Corner here: ‘One day before the General Shareholders’ Meeting last Friday, the former president of BBVA announced by letter that he is temporarily leaving the positions that bind him to the entity (he is the honorary president of the bank and the Foundation) until the end of the investigation of the Villarejo case, in which the BBVA is related to a supposed espionage of politicians, businessmen and journalists when González occupied the presidency. The spying probe is related to contracts with jailed ex-police chief José Manuel Villarejo, whom the bank allegedly hired in 2004 to spy on top executives of a potential buyer (Sacyr)...’.
General elections: April 28th. European, local and (most) regional elections: May 26th.
Pablo Iglesias has been away from the helm of Unidos Podemos for an extended parental leave, but now returns this Saturday. From ElDiario.es comes ‘Five weeks of campaigning’.
The PP has said that it is worried that the other right-wing parties might steal its chance to govern by splitting the conservative vote. There’s a proposal to get either the PP or Vox to bow out of certain smaller provinces to Save the Day says El Español here. Indeed, “Ciudadanos and Vox need to consider whether they are useful to Spain or not” says Casado in an interview in Telva here.
The PP has proposed allowing pregnant female illegals the right to stay in Spain until their babies are born, if they agree to put them up for adoption. The PP say that Spain needs more births to compensate for the fall in population and that this would guarantee excellent conditions for the pregnancies. ElDiario.es reports here. The PP later attempted to back-peddle on this story here. Some of the PP leaders are worried about Pablo Casado, who appears to be leading the party to defeat, says La Vanguardia here.
Ciudadanos has found itself in a scandal of sorts, as regional candidates, preferred by Party Headquarters, appear to have won their local primaries by fudging the vote. In one case, in Castilla y León, the preferred candidate (an out-of-towner known in politics as ‘a parachutist’) initially won, but the local candidate forced a recount and 81 votes were discovered to have come from the same IP address. Xataca reports here. Now it’s been found to have happened also in Cantabria says El Confidencial and maybe elsewhere too.
Vox has described itself (in a recent meeting in France) as ‘liberal-conservative’ – similar to the Partido Popular and the British Conservative party, says El Confidencial here. Hitherto, Vox has shied away from any label, with its leader Santiago Abascal on record as saying "Vox is not a party of the extreme right; it is a party of an extreme need. Those who put those labels on us do so because they are far away from us; they see us from the extreme left. We have come to win, and that of course means that they award you all kinds of labels". Not that the party is all that tolerant – with a plan, on winning, ‘to outlaw Podemos and other Marxist parties’, says Europa Press here.
From El Mundo comes ‘More than half of Spaniards consider that migrants strengthen the country’.
All things being equal, the Government intends to exhume the remains of General Franco from his grave in the Valley of the Fallen, and remove him to El Pardo on June 10th. El Pardo is a palace owned by the Royal Family and used by Franco as his headquarters after the Civil War (Wiki). It’s located on the edge of Madrid.
El Confidencial discovers how hard it is to reduce the enormous number of funcionarios and agencies within the Junta de Andalucía, as the long-serving PSOE-A government has those jobs sewn-up tight and any sackings would attract the attention of the courts.
Since the first democratic elections of 1979, following the passing of El Caudillo, a handful of mayors have held office continuously, says El País here. Twenty-nine to be precise.
‘Catalan independence march passes through Madrid peacefully. Supporters renew calls for secession and protest at the trial of 12 separatist leaders’. Item from The Guardian here.
The duel between Quim Torra, the President of Catalonia, and the Election Board regarding yellow ribbons affixed to public buildings (to remember the secessionist ‘political prisoners’) was at fever pitch on Wednesday with Torra liable for a fine, or even disbarment from public service for refusing to bow to the election laws. Finally Torra, who claims ‘freedom of speech’, relented and ordered their removal. As ElDiario.es points out – it’s not freedom of speech, it’s giving one side a political advantage over the other at election time.
From Público here: ‘The office of the Money Laundering Group of the UDEF to which Público has had access, maintains that the Popular Party's leadership captained for more than 20 years a political and mafia-like situation in the Balearic Islands: a vast criminal organization dedicated to the enrichment of its leaders that manipulated the public administration, the legislative power, the opposition courts and the local police, causing "a brutal impairment" of the general interest’. While the situation was known to the courts, a local judge is accused of ‘burying’ it says the article.
‘The "joke" fines by the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) to the electricity companies: ten sanctions in a year that represent just 0.003% of their billing’. An item from ElDiario.es here. (That’s 1,620,000€ out of the 44,000 million euros billed by Endesa, Iberdrola and Naturgy in 2018.
From the Spanish Government. What will happen to British residents with a no-deal:
What will happen in the event of Mrs May’s deal:
From Think Spain we read: ‘Brexit uncertainty has created an additional problem for Spaniards living in the UK – the only two Consulates in the country are overwhelmed with work and appointments are nearly impossible to obtain. Registering as a permanent resident, changing driving licences and other bureaucracy means getting an appointment for registering a birth or marriage, replacing a passport and registering to vote in the Spanish general elections is difficult, often given at the last minute and very strict in terms of time. Spaniards living in Britain complain about the amount of bureaucracy they cannot do online or by post, meaning they have to visit the Consulate during working hours, taking annual leave to do so...’.
El Huff Post quotes the Banco de España to say that a Hard Brexit would cost Spain 9,000 million euros in GDP over five years while a negotiated Brexit would be largely irrelevant to the economy.
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From Cadena Ser comes: ‘The silent disappearance of the sparrow. Thirty million of this well-known species (one fifth of its total population) have disappeared in Spain in the past decade, according to the latest balance made by the Spanish Ornithological Society’.
Roll your own? Now, you can grow your own, or sell it for that matter. El Confidencial says that ‘The Supreme Court decriminalizes the sale of tobacco leaves to smoke without paying taxes’. It’s probably a bit better on your lungs, too...
Those ubiquitous electric scooters that are popular in cities will soon be joined by electric three-wheelers from Xiaomi called the Ninebot Kart, says VozPópuli here.
'It's not marine rescue, but a bus service' says the Vox lady for Almería here.
Paulina in her blog Paulina on the Road takes us to Melilla. She writes ‘I finally needed to acknowledge that Melilla is one of Spain’s most colourful and intriguing cities!’
‘Maybe it’s the flowing red wine, the tempting tapas or that something special in romantic Spain which makes it so irresistible to romantic travellers. Spending your Honeymoon in Spain has got everything a romantic getaway could ask for...’. Seven great honeymoon destinations brought by Molly at Piccavey here.
A man called Mark Wolters introduces us in a video to the beautiful town of Cuenca.