Weekly Report

Business over Tapas (nº 300)

Business over Tapas (nº 300)

  • A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners: Prepared by Lenox Napier. Consultant: José Antonio Sierra

jueves 25 de abril de 2019, 22:41h

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The Election Board (here) is under pressure to adapt to los tiempos modernos. For example, a ‘Day of Reflection’ (like, you’ve not made up your mind yet), when the political canvassing is over, is a bit silly with the Social Media messages bombarding us all and every day – usually with negative messages.

All the national election lists with candidates for the Congress and the Senate are now published here. But Spain does have a few oddities (apart from Unidos Podemos changing its name to Unidas Podemos for its own reasons).

We have the lista cremallera – the boy-girl-boy-girl list favoured by Podemos and the PSOE which particularly in local elections can make things hard to scrape up candidates (actually and officially, the Ley de Paridad is two of one sex and three of the other in every five names). But then, after the elections, people can drop out (heh heh) – like all the men featured on the list of the Feminism8. Now we have the mentally impaired allowed to vote (and drunk. Can we vote drunk?).

Spain also uses a strange mathematical system called D’Hondt to decide which party gets what in the results, which effectively inflates the larger parties at the cost of the smaller ones. Those Spaniards living abroad face huge hurdles (especially when there are two elections just one month apart).

Expect not much more than 6% successfully voting. Of course, the European lists (May 26th) are decided at party headquarters, so the early, cushy jobs are already written in granite before the voting begins. Finally, there’s a cynical yet instructive video to be found here which puts the wonders of the Spanish democratic system into tatters (does a blank vote, a no-vote or a spoiled vote help the largest party? You bet it does). The General Elections are this Sunday 28 April.

*Who will win on Sunday? BoT says that Pedro Sánchez will be the next president, with the support of Unidas Podemos (and possibly the ERC and a couple of other tiddlers). Ciudadanos will continue to grow, and the PP will stumble badly. Other groups with seats in the next parliament will be Vox (doing better than expected) and maybe even Pacma.


‘How the Spanish property market reacted to the Catalan crisis. The results of the Catalan referendum affected the state of both the Catalonian and the Spanish real estate market as a whole. Experts and investors have made various forecasts. But, how have things turned out at the beginning of 2019?’. Born2Invest will tell you here.

From VozPópuli here: ‘Blackstone, the fund that has invested the most in the Spanish real estate sector in the past five years, has halted rental offers on hundreds, at least, of its homes in Spain managed by its Testa arm after the decree approved by the Government of Pedro Sánchez, which has modified the Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos, the urban lease law...’.

The subject of the forgotten part of rural Spain returns with The Guardian here: ‘'Empty Spain’: country grapples with towns fading from the map’.

"Soon the nightmare that tortures tens of thousands of oldies in Andalucía will end". The Junta de Andalucía has assured that it is "working so that the majority of the 'illegal homes' will obtain their escrituras shortly". Item from Almería Hoy here.


‘Tourism companies in Spain outraged at being handed limits on daily beach visitors with some as low as 250 per day. A group of ship owners and hoteliers have labelled the plans ‘unjustified’ and claimed that daily limit on tourist numbers is a ‘grave error’’. An article in The Olive Press looks at limiting visits to certain beaches in Galicia here.

German tourism considers other resorts beyond Spain in search of low cost beaches. Visits by Germans tend to be shorter in Spain as Egypt and Turkey begin to recover part of the volume of lost tourists’. El País has the story here. The report also carries a useful graphic of the rise and fall in visitors to Spain by nationality in 2018.

‘A fifth of jobs in Málaga province are in the tourism sector. The number in work in this key part of the area's economy grew by six per cent last year but only 46% of workers have permanent contracts’. Item from Sur in English here.


‘More than half of retirees do not reach pensions of 900€. Social Security registers great differences between wages and the majority of beneficiaries of retirement pensions are in the section from 600 to 650 euros in fourteen payments’. A graphic accompanies the article from La Información here.


‘"In Spain, political uncertainties contrast with a solid economic outlook. Activity slowed last year but stood up well with GDP growth nearly one point above Euro-zone average," said BNP Paribas in a recently published analysis’. FXStreet has the story here.

‘Threat of contagion to the Euro-zone from Spanish banks’ huge bet on emerging markets. The Union Bank of Switzerland has alerted that Spanish banks’ outsized exposure to Latin American markets could serve as a source of contagion for future crises: 80% of the Euro-zone’s total banking exposure to the region is channelled through Spain whose banks have around €384,000 million of counterparty claims in the region...’. An item from Wolf Street can be found here.


General elections: April 28th. European, local and (most) regional elections: May 26th.

Guy Hedgecoe at the BBC News writes about Pedro Sánchez here: ‘Less than a year ago, Pedro Sánchez was lagging in the polls as the leader of Spain's opposition, bruised by two resounding electoral defeats. Yet he goes into this Sunday's general election as prime minister – and is widely tipped to secure the first victory for his Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) since 2008. "He has used his time in government to project an image of gravity and of being someone who is suited to the post of prime minister," says Josep Lobera, a sociologist at Madrid's Autonomous University (UAM) – who adds that being in government has boosted Mr Sánchez's standing among leftist voters...’.

In English, a quick rundown of the main political parties of Spain, and their proposals for the 2019 Spanish General Election on YouTube here.

La Vanguardia reports that The Economist recommends Spanish voters to go with Pedro Sánchez, enough that he can govern alone without coalitions. .

Politico has an article on the PP leader called ‘Spain’s conservative revolution’. It says, ‘Ahead of Spain’s election, PM Sánchez’s challenger Pablo Casado has moved his conservative party sharply to the right’.

From El País: ‘Albert Rivera: "I would prefer a Government without Vox". The candidate of Ciudadanos insists that he will not pact with the PSOE, but is less forceful about the possibility of entering an Executive with Santiago Abascal's party’. The story here.

The Vox campaign leader for Alicante is Eduardo Martínez Fuster. He recently said on record that ‘Vox is not a democratic party nor will it ever be. If you don’t like it, then try Ciudadanos or Podemos’, he added.

There were two TV debates this week, on Monday and Tuesday (for, uh, political reasons). According to the readers of the different news-sources, El Mundo (right), El País (centre) and Público (left), the four candidates on Monday did better or worse, depending. Pablo Casado, for example, scored just 18, 9 and 7 per cent respectively. The far-right OKDiario readers were rather more ebullient with 25% for the PP leader; but the winner, from their view-point, was the Ciudadanos candidate Albert Rivera at 54%. The second debate (on the commercial TV channels Antena3 and LaSexta – both, with Onda Cero radio, part of Atresmedia) was more of the same, but with Iglesias turning up this time in a taxi. Pablo Casado collected 33, 20 and 11 per cent from our three abovementioned news-sources. OKDiario readers gave him 49% (although, one shouldn’t entirely trust El Mundo’s figures). The overall winner of the two debates, according to eight experts found at El País, was Pablo Iglesias, and the loser was Albert Rivera (and his unfortunate remark to Pedro Sánchez on Tuesday ‘Have you finished with your lies? Now it’s my turn...’).

Accountants for the Partido Popular have warned party leaders that ‘...the party will end up in bankruptcy if it gets less than 80 deputies in the upcoming elections. The party will be forced to face an ERE all over Spain, close down and sell venues (including the party headquarters at Genoa 13 in Madrid) and there will be problems paying off pending credits'. El Confidencial Digital has the story here.

The PP took another massive hit on Wednesday. As El Mundo reports, ‘The disbanding of the ranks of the PP continues. The last to join this haemorrhage is the former president of the Autonomous Region of Madrid Ángel Garrido, who suddenly signed up for Ciudadanos and will occupy a miner party role...’.

WhatsApp cut Podemos’ account just five days before the elections. Who leaned on Mr Zuckerberg asks 20 Minutos here?

The animal-rights party Pacma has made a hash of things after last week’s video of their leader caressing a bull turned out that she was accompanied by a steer, rather than a Toro Bravo, which would have done her physical damage. The Bullfight Crowd were first to make the jokes, but it is now in the media, including El Español which, a trifle alarmingly, thinks that Pacma should be banned.

From El País comes a story of a small town in Madrid which has no political parties, just a village council. ‘Democracy came to Valdepiélagos by letter, and has stayed forever there in an exceptional format. It was in 1979. The first democratic municipal celebrations were being held in 46 years. And the parties couldn’t find local aspirants with whom to make lists for the pueblo. Then, a letter was sent out. "Who is the best mayor for the town", asked Félix Álvarez, the outgoing Francoist mayor. That day a system was born that still holds true forty years later. In Valdepiélagos there are no electoral posters. There is no propaganda. And don’t wait for the local elections: on March 16, the vecinos already selected the group of seven councillors who will be piloting the town for the next four years, because they will be the only voters for the elections on May 26, choosing one between them for mayor...’.

El Plural reports from the Health Ministry of the Junta de Andalucía. The new secretary for health Jesús Aguirre (PP) says ‘I had the new department up and running in just three days, and with 140 of my friends’. The paper wonders if the PP’s position towards ‘nepotism and the old-mates network’ so popular with the previous government in Seville is still in operation.


How bad, economically speaking, would a split between Catalonia and Spain be for both sides? An article from CNBC from two years ago notes that ‘...The establishment of a border would result in a loss of jobs, income and wealth for everybody, whether they live in Catalonia or in the rest of Spain. Those losses would be provoked by the obstacles to trade, by financial problems, by the spending needs of the new state...’. Perfil Asesor noted in an article last December that ‘...The high degree of interconnection between the territories would mean that independence would have a brutal impact in Catalonia on unemployment, public and private debt, housing, pensions, poverty, companies, foreign investment and sales to the rest of Spain...’.


The Olive Press looks at the online gambling industry in Gibraltar here. ‘...The Gibraltar government legalized online gambling just over 15 years ago and the industry has since then been attracting online casinos offering low tax rates and as a result the country has benefited from the profits made...’.


From VozPópuli here: ‘The IMF estimates that corruption costs Spain around 60,000 million a year. The international body has published a study in which it concludes that, among developed countries, those perceived as less corrupt receive an average 4.5% more of GDP than their more corrupt neighbours’. In the Corruption Stakes, Spain does not do very well at all.


‘The waiting list of corruption: more than two hundred isolated cases pending trial. The incessant trickle of cases of embezzlement, bribery, perversion of justice and influence peddling with politicians and officials under suspicion reinforces the sensation of systemic corruption in public institutions’. An article at Público looks at graft in Spain.

Beware of overspending on local elections. From El Confidencial comes a tale of a local party which overspent by 28€ (the limit is 0.11€ per voter) and could be fined up to 50,000€.


Facebook has deleted seventeen Spanish pages from the far right with a whopping 1.4 million followers, says ElDiario.es here. These include Unidad Nacional Española, Todos Contra Podemos and Lucha Por España.

If one person says it's raining, and another says it isn't, your job as a journalist is not to give them equal time, but to look out of the fucking window. (Facebook meme)


From El Salto Diario here: ‘These are the ten companies that contribute the most to climate change in Spain’.

El Español helps you find how much sugar is hidden in the labelling on your supermarket food.


A life-sized doll made to look like the exiled Catalonian leader Carles Puigdemont was shot and burned in the annual fiesta in the Seville town of Coripe in what they describe as a tradition (but the Catalonian media consider ‘a provocation’). El Español reports here. The mayor was unrepentant ‘We also burn Arabs’, he tells Onda Cero. A video and the story are here at La Vanguardia.

Why do the good people of Vigo refer to their neighbours from La Coruña as ‘turcos’? Why do Spaniards call Catalonians ‘polacos’? A few more of these rude terms are at Wiki here. All, ahem, used in good fun, no doubt.

El País looks at the politics of hatred here.

Vox doesn’t like the reporting on LaSexta and says it intends to close it down when elected.

‘Pontevedra is about to host a huge international athletics event and the council has gone to the lengths of producing an impressively long and detailed supplement for the local press, plus of course an internet version. Not only that . . . It's all translated into English. And I was delighted to see that this had been given the once-over by a native speaker. Not. Just joshing. I would write (again) to the mayor, offering my services for free. But I know my letter would be ignored. Go figure, as the Americans say’. Colin Davies has fun here.

‘The British theatrical director Peter Brook wins the 2019 ‘Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts’. A legend of the world scene, his mythical productions 'Marat-Sade' and 'Mahabharata' marked a before and an after in the history of modern theatre’. El País reports on the triumph here.

See Spain:

El País brings us ten lesser-known walled Spanish towns here.


Chef José Andrés from New York’s Little Spain Market made a tortilla for American viewers on the Jimmy Fallon show. Lots of fun. The video is on YouTube here.

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