Four years ago, Albert Rivera was Europe’s Golden Boy: the man who spoke for the uneasy elite and the moral yet indignant middle-classes. Now, the same man is enjoying a perfect storm. His refusal to either support or at least abstain and allow Pedro Sánchez to form a government is causing him headaches. His party’s apparent romance with Vox is causing him nightmares. So far, he has been criticised by his erstwhile mentor Emmanuel Macron who now openly wonders whether Ciudadanos is a Brussels ALDE ‘liberal party ally’ after all. Several of his senior partners in Ciudadanos have quit in the past few days, including his party spokesperson for finance Toni Roldán (here), the MEP Javier Nart (here) plus the Asturias regional candidate Juan Vásquez (here) and his substitute Ana Fonseca (here). Support from star-signing Manuel Valls has also disappeared. Worse still, the party co-founder Francesc de Carreras criticises Rivera heavily in an interview with La Vanguardia: ‘He refers to the leader of the orange party as "a capricious teenager who takes a strategic 180-degree turn and puts supposed party interests before the general interests of Spain"’.
Now, as Rivera refuses to pose in a photo with Pablo Casado and ‘his executive shows signs of fracture’ (here), seventy per cent of his supporters think the party should allow Pedro Sánchez to be sworn in as president and as El Mundo reveals this week, a dispirited 20% of Ciudadanos voters are now regretting their choice.
Unlike Podemos, Ciudadanos appears to be sinking without anything much achieved, as the New York Times has it, thanks in part to Rivera’s ‘ideological incoherence’.
The PSOE smells blood says ElDiario.es here.
The jokes are now flying thick and fast (always a bad sign in politics), with Diarí Català leading the charge here. While even Felipe Gonzalez has torn up his party card says the satirical magazine El Jueves here. A Facebook joke says that with the loss of MEP Carolina Punset (who left the party in October last year), Valls, Roldán, Nart and Vázquez, all Rivera’s got left to love him these days is Pablo Casado and Santiago Abascal.
The main difference between Pablo Iglesias, whose star is also falling, is that Iglesias has achieved much, while Rivera, outside of his party politics and personal ambition, has achieved nothing beyond division.
From Reuters here: ‘Spain’s ‘bad bank’ is joining the ranks of the world’s biggest real estate funds as it swaps loans for property in an attempt to limit losses on toxic assets it took on during the financial crisis...’.
Mortgage woes from Spanish Property Insight here: ‘A recent change to Spain’s mortgage law makes banks pay more of the set-up costs, which they have promptly passed onto consumers in the form of higher borrowing charges, reveal figures from the Bank of Spain...’.
A story about squatters comes from Eye in Spain here. ‘...Organized squatters usually work in teams, identifying empty properties, assessing security measures and weaknesses, verifying if water and power are connected and moving in quickly under the disguise of darkness. These types of professional home invaders do not represent the poor, desperate homeless or bankrupt families in dire need of a roof over their heads...’.
‘Reasons not to buy in Spain: If things go wrong, don’t expect the Spanish justice system to deliver timely solutions’. An article from Spanish Property Insight here.
El País considers the Spanish ‘tourist model’. ‘A shadow of doubt looms on the Spanish tourist sector, which sees how the high holiday season has arrived with some unsold beds – and not how it has been in the last four years of maximum occupation and high prices. And, although the uncertainty derived from Brexit may have been delayed until October (yes, the Brits will spend another summer on the Spanish beaches, where they are the main international clients), the Germans, who are the second, are more remiss and Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia are once again attracting these tourists to their cheaper resorts...’.
From The Guardian comes similar warnings... ‘It’s that time again, heat-wave or not. As bound by instinct as the migratory swallow, the summering Briton is still most likely to sniff the air, contemplate the costs, and book a week in Spain regardless. The package holiday remains the dominant form of summer travel, albeit now booked online and personalised. And the Spanish beaches and islands are still the holidaymakers’ favourite destination. But new factors are coming into play that have started to shape our holiday choices – ones whose impact may yet grow.
On the scourge of ‘selfie’-takers. An amusing item from The Telegraph found here. ‘...A thousand theses could be written on the scourge of the selfie and the egotistical culture it epitomises. Yet far from being lambasted, some want to celebrate its influence on society – today (June 22) has even been declared National Selfie Day, for pity’s sake. Precious few places are free from its grip, but nowhere is a person more overwhelmed by the selfie brigade than on a city break. Visit a major attraction in any European city and they will be everywhere – gurning, snapping, assessing the results and returning for more. So alarming are their antics that they genuinely detract from the enjoyment of sightseeing...’.
What’s with Blue Flags anyway? The town halls that don’t care to ask for a Blue Flag on their beaches: "It makes us suffer a lot every summer". From ElDiario.es here: ‘More and more municipalities are not asking for the Blue Flag: either they say it is useless for them or they reject the inspections that they consider to be unprofessional. The private association that delivers the Blue Flags lives on subsidies and, although it is used as a claim, the flag is not an institutional distinction either from Spain itself or indeed from the European Union’.
Tourism means wealth for all; well, almost all; ok, for some then. Meanwhile, the ordinary residents must stay quiet, or move out of their homes. It's just business. '...in the centre of Barcelona, residents are being forced out, because of the boom in tourist accommodation. There are now more tourist beds than resident beds in the city...'. Público looks at a city under siege from tourism. Barcelona: City for Sale: the trailer with English subtitles here.
The latest employment figures are in: ‘Spain reaches its historic peak of workers with more than 19.5 million registered with the Social Security in June’ says ElDiario.es here.
Hacienda has printed its annual list of high tax-debtors – companies and persons, here.
Why no one wants another election: ‘The spring 2019 election marathon has left both major parties financially at a limit, as acknowledged by both the PSOE and the PP, where they had to resort once again to bank loans to cover the costs of the four separate campaigns between 28th April and 26th May. It has been a semester that has generated important treasury problems, as they admit, and that, moreover, has had an additional shock in the last forty years of democracy: the role that the now-disappeared Banco Popular habitually played in lending money to the two leading parties, as it had done since the Transition...’. An item from La Información here.
‘Russian businessman gives green light to €500 million rescue of Spain’s struggling Dia supermarket’ – item from The Olive Press here.
If they can't get behind the candidature, then there will (eventually) need to be a new general election. This won't help the opposition parties much, as the voters begin to get fed up. From El Español here: 'Sánchez is prepared to call fresh elections on November 10 or 17 if he is not voted in to office beforehand. The socialist leader delays the process considering that this will irremediably serve to soften the position of the other parties'.
The investiture debate and vote will be held from July 22nd (up to the 25th, if there isn’t an absolute majority).
Despite the editorial above, Ciudadanos remains as a strong party, according to the latest CIS poll in voters’ intentions, with almost 16%. The PSOE is now fielding just under 40%. El Mundo says that ‘Tezano’s CIS’ is manipulated to persuade Podemos to fall into line with the PSOE.
A poll from Sigma-Dos via El Mundo here claims that fresh elections would be terrible for both Vox and Ciudadanos.
The PSOE says it will apply as far as possible a boycott against Vox in the National Parliament. The Socialist spokesperson in Congress, Adriana Lastra, has notified both the PP and Ciudadanos of this decision – as the two parties expressed some objections. Vox has 24 deputies following the last elections and has probed the possibility of accessing positions proportionally on the tables of different parliamentary commissions, according to sources close to the leadership of the party. The PSOE insists that it will not allow it... El País reports here.
‘Vox has won the mayor's office of Roales del Pan in Zamora with the support of the Popular Party and the PSOE’. Item from Europa Press here.
'The EU Parliament plenary opens without three Catalan MEPs-elect. The seats of the three Catalan leaders that were prevented from becoming MEPs despite being elected in the European election remain empty, although they hope the European courts will eventually rule in their favour’. From Catalan News here.
The doctor from Granada who has been criticising the apparent corruption of the Andalusian health system (the SAS), Jesús Candel (better known to YouTube viewers as Spiriman), is currently in court following his complaints and revelations. The story here.
From Aseryde here: if you are going to make a complaint against Hacienda, and it goes to court, the case will be heard for free.
Brexit: three years have turned the UK into a country of extremism says El Periódico here. ‘...Three years have passed since the referendum on leaving Europe. Three years of disputes, confrontation, frustration and anxiety, which have convulsed the United Kingdom. Brexit is a Kafkaesque and irresolvable process, transformed into a virus that has been weakening the political system, the economy and the social fabric of the UK. The country is today more vulnerable to populism and extremism. Donald Trump and Nigel Farage are rubbing their hands in glee. Boris Johnson has all the cards to be the new prime minister. The international image of a country which has been an influential world power has being so damaged that it is unrecognizable. Nothing is as it was before the referendum and it will never be again. "It seems very sad to me what they are doing, their role in the world is going to be reduced, their economy is going to suffer and the impact on society will be enormous," said the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on a recent visit to London...’.
The EWN’s Leapy Lee on June 21st: '...I am also disgusted by the way the country of my birth is slowly being brought to its knees by ungrateful foreign spongers, greedy billionaires and dubious immigrants, who take advantage of its hospitality and, under the guise of diversity, would destroy its culture altogether. I am constantly enraged by deceitful, self-serving politicians, who either have some ulterior motive or are naïve almost beyond belief. I am a staunch Brexiteer. I am firmly convinced that only by ridding ourselves of the yolk (he means 'yoke') of Brussels will our misguided children learn to stand on their own two feet, respect their country and regain the pride and patriotism that inspired the youngsters of yore to fight, and die for what they believed in...'. Here.
‘The UK's new MEPs have arrived in Brussels – and they're already causing carnage. Brexit Party MEPs turn their backs while Lib Dems wear 'bollocks to Brexit' shirts’. Headline from The Huff Post here.
It’s time to pull out the stopper. From EuroCitizens – how to apply for Spanish nationality here. ‘Despite the serious obstacles (long delays, paperwork, lack of dual nationality and the need to 'officially' renounce British nationality), many EuroCitizens have decided to go down the route of applying for Spanish nationality...’.
Seriesyonkis: ‘The managers of popular series websites acquitted of piracy in Spain. The former administrators of three film and TV series websites that became popular in the Spanish-speaking world were acquitted Friday, June 21, of violating intellectual property rights as a court ruled they merely directed users to illegal servers...’. The Inquirer reports here.
‘The current situation on Intellectual Property Rights infringement in the European Union in 2019 - Focusing on the Spanish market’: from Lexology here.
‘The lies from Eduardo Inda (director of OKDiario)’: video and article from Cuatro here.
Pablo Iglesias interviews the ex-director of El Mundo: "Ibex companies refresh the media with millions of euros to protect their image". Video and article from Spanish Revolution here.
From Eye on Spain here: ‘Summer 2019 in Spain will be 'hotter than average', says Met office’. It started off pretty hot! ‘Forecasts are fulfilled: the climate crisis leaves record temperatures and more heat waves. It was the warmest June on record on the planet. Several studies focus on the relationship between warming and extreme events’ says El País here. From The New York Times here: ‘...In Spain, wildfires have destroyed 24,700 acres over the last several days in four different regions of the country, forcing the evacuation of some villages and closing some roads. In the worst affected region, Catalonia, a fire is believed to have started on a chicken farm; investigators are looking into whether it was caused by the spontaneous ignition of manure...’.
Doctors from Iceland misdiagnosed the recent chikungunya infection of three of their citizens in Alicante says ElDiario.es here.
Oh, what to do with all that discarded plastic sheeting from the invernaderos, and all the old tires that have been discarded across the country, and any other incendiary waste? The Chinese don't want it and the Philippines are sending all the European junk home. We can't put it in the sea (for much longer) and the public waste plants are full. Unless there's an accidental fire or something (there were 53 of these accidental fires in 2017). ...And right on schedule in Vicar (Almería) comes ‘Large fire devours local waste plant’.
We are not sure who is the 'populista' here, but the new mayor of Madrid has just opened up the centre of the city to traffic. An indignant El País in English has an editorial on the subject: ‘Saving Madrid Central. Getting rid of a measure just because it was introduced by an administration led by a different political party is a short-sighted way of understanding politics’.
The University of Castilla-La Mancha gives an extra point to those theses presented by members of the Gentle Sex says La Cope here. Meanwhile, according to El País here, there are so many candidates with full marks at two colleges in Asturias and Cáceres that they have chosen to give honours and free university tuition by lottery.
Truck drivers need to have their studies in order too. From La Sexta we read of ‘A clamour among truck drivers for the new rule that obliges them to have a high school diploma. The new Regulation obliges them to have the Baccalaureate or equivalent to be able to operate, in an industry that needs more than 15,000 workers (while there are 1.7 million unemployed who lack the appropriate level of studies).
Oh My Lord – they’ve made a ‘Balconning League’ by nationality. Guess who is winning.
From Noticias de Navarra here: ‘Public health orders the definitive withdrawal of 66 homeopathic products. The Health Ministry has been carrying out for months a process of authorization and registration of products available in Spain’.
Andalucía and the Convenio Especial: what you need to know, from Healthcare in Spain here. ‘We know that many Brits have been asking about the Convenio Especial in Andalucía. The Convenio Especial is a pay-in scheme which allows people in Spain to access state healthcare for a monthly fee of 60 euros (under 65 years old) or 157 euros (over 65 years old). It’s fair to say it has caused a bit of confusion for those living in the region...’.
An oddity from El Orden Mundial here: ‘Why does the UN still consider the Western Sahara to be a Spanish colony?’
There are 569 public bilingual schools in the Madrid Region. Maybe they aren’t doing their job properly says a primary teacher who is looking for support to complete a documentary called La Chapuza del Bilingüismo here. An article (and short video) at Cuarto Poder explores the issue here.
Projections from the UN: ‘These will be the countries with more inhabitants of the world in 2100. Spain loses 33 positions. The Spanish population will descend by 14 million inhabitants in the remainder of the century’. Headline from Cinco Días. Estimated populations by country in 2100 contrasted with current numbers. Spain in 2019 has 47 million souls and is forecast to shrink to 33 million.
Huesca’s Roda de Isábena has the country’s smallest cathedral. Photos and story here.
From Colossal comes ‘Step inside the lavish architecture of Gaudí’s Casa Vicens’.
Mike Arkus in the beautiful city of Segovia. Copy and paste: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/bolero-ing-round-spain-looney-front-part-9-segovia-roman-mike-arkus/
‘Do you need to speak Spanish in Spain?’: a YouTube presentation for the Brits reckons that, yes, we do (hat-tip to Jake). Not that we Brits were ever much good with foreign languages. An item from the UK: ‘Pupils and parents turn backs on language learning ‘following Brexit vote’’ says the iNews here.