Ciudadanos, the third party in Spanish politics, is rapidly redefining itself as the fifth party as its leader Albert Rivera flounders in the polls. If the results of the forthcoming elections are as bad as expected, Rivera will probably have to ‘consider his position’, as the British elegantly put it, and resign – probably in favour of Inés Arrimadas.
Rivera is seen by the pundits (and the public) as being the main culprit for the impossibility of a government following last April’s elections, and his volte face now (‘I’ll support the PSOE if necessary after November 10th’ he said recently) makes him look not only foolish, but irresponsible. In another move, Rivera offers a ‘grand agreement’ for ten years between the PSOE, the PP and, er, himself. To be called ‘The Second Transition’. ‘To all row in the same direction’, he says grandly.
The PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez answered with ‘We don’t ask for Ciudadanos to support us, merely that they desist from blocking us’.
There’s still money in the party coffers however, as Rivera is found to have paid ‘the most expensive political advert on YouTube in the whole EU’ (60,000€, see it here).
ElDiario.es helpfully provides a cartoon strip explaining his rise and fall. In short, his lack of sound proposals and his support one day for the right, the next for the left, has left his party weakened and, perhaps, rather pointless.
La Vanguardia, through some complicated calculations, says that the disaffected C’s votes will move to the PP, but the PSOE will benefit more, as deputies are chosen proportionally in the provinces, and the party will finally take, with its satellites from the left, a majority.
As the experiment with a plethora of parties slowly palls on the electorate (Vox apparently notwithstanding), ‘The waters are returning to their channel’ says El Economista – the country re-entertains the idea of a two-party system.
From El Economista here: ‘The sale of homes plunges 21.1% in August, the biggest drop since 2014’. The item says that, in both Extremadura and the Canaries, the fall was worse than 40% over the figures for August 2018.
The Diario Sur rejoices at the ‘End of Third-world urban planning’ here.
Less than a month after the collapse of Thomas Cook, the global travel & vacation-giant and airline operator, the Spanish government has unveiled an €800 million taxpayer-funded bailout of its all-important tourism industry. During the presentation of the new 13-point royal decree, Spain’s vice-president Carmen Calvo described the measures as a “reasonable response to an unforeseen crisis”...’. Found at Wolf Street here. This interesting article on Spain’s tourist business concludes with this: ‘...It is against this backdrop and almost exactly a month before a new general election that the Spanish government has decided to launch its first bailout of the country’s tourism industry. The amount of the bailout is still relatively small, compared to the bailouts the banks received, but the precedent it sets is huge. When it comes to using public funds to help out non-financial companies in distress, such as well-connected ones in the construction industry, the Spanish government has plenty of form. If the recent downturn in the tourism industry deepens, the amount of funds used to support companies in the tourism industry could mushroom very quickly’.
‘Brexit could mean a €1,400 million loss to the tourism sector on Spain’s Costa del Sol, warn experts. The Brexit deadline is at the end of October and the uncertainty has already caused a loss in British tourism in Andalucía by 3.3% in the third quarter of this year’. Item from The Olive Press here.
‘A study finds 23% of the elderly in Andalucía are at risk of poverty, compared to 6.3% in the Basque Country. Item from The Olive Press here. The figures are broken down further by La Voz de Almería here.
The Multinationals (‘Google, Facebook, Nike and so on’) neglect to declare 13,500 million euros in Spain each year, accounting them as profits in other countries with lower (or no) tax systems. Spain loses some 2,600 million euros in taxes as an unhappy result of this. More on this state of affairs is at El País here.
In happier news, BBVA, Banco Santander, Inditex and Telefónica will be sharing out 4,700 million euros this autumn in dividends to their grateful stock-holders
The average wage for an Ibex35 director is now around 700,000€ per annum.
Spanish General Election: Sunday November 10th.
The latest poll from ElDiario.es shows the PP growing strongly, and now only five points behind the PSOE (27.3% to 22.2%). The poll has UP in third, C’s in fourth and Vox, at 8.4%, running fifth. VozPópuli says that the polls suggest that Iñigo Errejón’s Más País is taking more voters from the PSOE than from the UP. El Español (a right-wing website), is generous with its poll results, giving Vox third place with anything up to 34 deputies (10.5% of the vote). Ciudadanos is at 17 to 19 (9.3%), says its article here. All of which goes to show that it matters who you ask...
Vox leader Santiago Abascal (wiki) was recently invited onto a silly TV talk-show called El Hormiguero. He did well, spoke naturally and charmed the audience. Thus, says VozPópuli, the party rose in possible deputies from 25 to 31. The article also looks at how the other parties are faring.
The Government has made a video in various languages to show the world just how strong is the Spanish version of democracy. It’s called ‘Everybody’s Land’ Enjoy.
The local PSOE has been found to have been buying municipal votes in some pueblos in Andalucía. The story here. (Lenox says that his village, run by the PP, is notorious for buying votes too).
From El País in English (Monday): ‘The Supreme Court finds jailed Catalan secession leaders guilty of sedition. Prison terms range from nine to 13 years; none of the defendants have been convicted of rebellion and they are eligible for a semi-open regime in a decision that is now up to penitentiary authorities’ (here) and ‘Speaker in Catalan parliament: “Today we have all been convicted”. Key figures from the independence movement – including those found guilty in the trial – have been swift to react to the Supreme Court ruling’ (here). The president of the Catalonia Generalitat Quim Torras’ first reaction: ‘This is an insult to Democracy’. ‘Alyn Smith, SNP MEP and President of the EFA Group in the European Parliament described the sentences as 'a travesty of justice which will only serve to worsen already difficult relations between Catalonia and Spain'. ... Two of those condemned are former members of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament (Oriol Junqueras and Raül Romeva)...’. the item from Greens - European Free Alliance website is here.
All the ‘constitutionalist’ parties are meanwhile falling over each other as to which is the firmest in its opposition to the indignant Catalonian protestors (here and here).
The Guardian (with an excerpt from a view on ‘Scottish nationalism: a warning from Catalonia’): ‘...Spain’s jailing of Catalan nationalist leaders, for such long terms, has shocked Europe...’.
The Spanish think tank Royal Institute Elcano looks at the Catalonian issue in depth here.
Respected Catalonian journalist Jordi Évole laments on Twitter here.
From the indignant Catalonian separatists: ‘We are going to do a ‘Hong Kong’’ here.
A movement called Tsunami Democràtic (@tsunami_dem ) appears on the scene here.
‘How not to resolve a political conflict in a democracy, says Pablo Iglesias here.
41% of Spaniards think the sentences were insufficient says El Español here.
From Thoughts from Galicia here: ‘While the rest of the world ponders whether the Catalan trial sentences bowed more in the direction of politics than justice, the folk who kicked off the whole shooting-match are complaining that the long jail sentences weren't anywhere near tough enough and threatening to seek a judicial review of them (link here). With people like this now in the political mainstream, one despairs of a solution’.
(Link sent to BoT from a Reader) ‘Will Spain be held together by force? Madrid's brutal response to Catalan separatists is typical of a country forged by violence’. An interesting article from Unherd here.
Before Oriol Junqueras can be considered for some form of parole, he will be obliged to take ‘re-education’ courses on morals and values says El Español here.
Some comedy here; how Iglesias and Sánchez tried to form a contractual agreement (video).
‘Tourism decline, six-hour border queues and ambulances stuck in traffic’ – the predictions in Gibraltar Government’s Brexit guide. The daily movement of people and goods across the Frontier would be ‘abnormally disruptive’’, Item from The Olive Press here, as Gibraltar goes to the polls today Thursday (wiki).
Hacienda has taken to looking at Tripadvisor and El Tenedor to see how the refreshment industry is doing with ‘potential inconsistencies’. Watch what you say!
Open letter from the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to UK nationals living in Spain:
In less than a month, the will of the British people will be delivered and the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. This, of course, will be a time of transition. But for those living in Spain, I want to assure you that as Foreign Secretary, I am working to ensure that your rights and access to services remain as strong as ever.
From Madrid to Malaga, and Barcelona to Benidorm, 300,000 Britons have made Spain their home. No matter the terms of our departure from the EU, you will continue to be able to live and work in Spain.
But to make sure your daily needs are met, there are some steps you must take to get ready for Brexit on 31 October. You’ll need to register for residency, check your healthcare cover, verify your passport validity online and exchange your UK driving licence for a Spanish one. To check the specific actions you need to take, and stay up to date, go to the Living in Spain Guide at gov.uk/livinginspain.
In Government, we are doing our bit to get ready for Brexit, too. We are making sure that on 1 November, every British national living in Spain can go on living, working, studying and accessing healthcare.
We are working with the Spanish authorities to make processes as smooth and straightforward as possible, whether you’re applying for residency or a new driving licence.
And we are working with the Spanish National Health System, SNS, to ensure that tourists, students and European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) holders will be able to access healthcare in the same way until at least 31 December 2020.
We are working hard to reach a deal with the EU. But even if the UK leaves without a deal, the UK and Spain have each taken steps to ensure you will be able to continue accessing healthcare in Spain, exactly as you do now, until at least 31 December 2020 if you are an S1 form holder.
Of course, every circumstance is unique. And we know that some British people might need some extra support during this transition.
We want to support those who may find it harder to complete all the paperwork – like pensioners or disabled people, those living in remote areas, and those needing assistance with language translation or interpretation. The Foreign Office has allocated an extra £3 million for charities and other voluntary organisations to help these people keep their rights and access to services in the EU.
You should be checking in regularly with the Embassy in Madrid or local consulates in Alicante, Barcelona, Ibiza, Las Palmas, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, for information on upcoming local ‘question and answer’ sessions, town hall meetings and information stands in supermarkets and on high streets.
And by now, you should also be seeing one of the largest information campaigns in British history, which launched with advice in newspapers and on billboards, encouraging people across the UK and Europe to Get Ready for Brexit.
This is an exciting time, but also one of unprecedented change. We’re getting ready for Brexit on 31 October, and I would urge you to do the same.
From VozPópuli (and behind the back of Brussels, apparently), we read ‘The Government of Spain has already begun to negotiate with the United Kingdom a Social Security agreement so that, in the event that a no-deal Brexit is finally produced on October 31, Spanish workers who move there to work temporarily and The British who come here do not lose the rights they currently have...’.
We read with dismay the comments attributed to the Minister of State for Security, Brandon Lewis, in his interview with Die Welt, about the possible deportation of EU citizens in the UK if they fail to apply for settled status before the end of next year.
As you know, the Spanish Government has made it clear that it will expect reciprocal arrangements to apply for the citizens' rights provisions of the Royal Decree, covering a “No Deal Brexit”, to come into play. Thus Mr Lewis’s comments will only serve to heighten suspicions that the UK will not fully honour reciprocity, with the possibility that the terms of the Royal Decree may be compromised to our significant disadvantage. The comments from Mr Lewis come on the heels of recent declarations by Home Secretary Priti Patel about the immediate end of freedom of movement on 31 October, which caused similar alarm amongst EU citizens in the UK and Britons in the EU.
We would be very grateful if you could raise this concern to the Prime Minister, given Mr Lewis appears to have spoken as a Government minister. At the very least it suggests that we UK and EU citizens are merely pawns in a bigger game - contrary to official claims. We would also ask you please to intervene with Spanish Government to assuage the concerns they will feel as they digest Mr Lewis’s words. Eurocitizens Spain (webpage here)
From The Independent here: ‘Botched announcements by Boris Johnson’s government are putting over a million British citizens living on the continent at the risk of “retaliatory deportations” and other consequences after Brexit, the prime minister has been warned. UK emigrants living in EU countries fear that a string of hardline statements and “domestic grandstanding” targeting migrants by British government ministers has “directly impacted” the way UK nationals will be treated by their host countries once the United Kingdom leaves...’.
An abogado speaks at ElDiario.es: "After Brexit, Spaniards will not be able to go freely to the United Kingdom to work as a waiter to learn English".
Meanwhile, from The Telegraph here: ‘The EU is right to fear an ultra-competitive independent Britain’.
‘Fake European Parliament magazine EP Today is filled with RT content. A website and its social media accounts aimed at members of the European Parliament is nearly a copy of Russia's RT, an EU report has found. Just 0.14% of content was actually from European lawmakers’. Heh! Item from Deutsche Welle here.
A number of fake news items on the Catalonia crisis with Maldita Bulo here.
From The Olive Press here: ‘The Mar Menor lagoon in Murcia is in a ‘critical condition’ following the devastating Gota Fría floods, the regional government has warned. Thousands of fish and crustaceans have died after suffocating due to the change in the water’s properties following last month’s flooding. According to the regional environment minister, Antonio Luengo, scientists and experts are desperately trying to find ways to inject oxygen into the coastal lagoon, which is the largest of its kind in Europe...’. The Murcian daily La Verdad is even gloomier: ‘It’s too late for the Mar Menor. The Integral Management Plan arrives as the lagoon goes through its worst state of conservation and without any apparent political will to solve its problems at the source’. The opinion piece adds ‘...Worst of all, the Mar Menor is so bad that any measure, no matter how necessary, will take years to produce any result, and surely before the cost of the Integral Management Plan and the sacrifices that it will entail will be considered successful, another gota fría will come along and return us to where we are now...’. Headline from El País here: ‘The Mar Menor is in the intensive care unit’. Three tons of dead fish have been removed from the shores, evidently poisoned by the vast run-offs of agricultural fertiliser...
From Eye on Spain here: ‘Bio-invasion - The Southern Coast of Spain is under attack from a foreign species of algae. For over six months now catching any fish in the Strait of Gibraltar has become extremely difficult. On hurling their nets into the waters with the hopes of catching sole, bream or cuttlefish, the only catch they have managed to haul in was worrying amounts of brown algae. However, this is no ordinary algae. Rugulopterix Okamurae (wiki) has set its eyes on the Southern coast of Spain and it is attacking with unseen malice. The entire marine biodiversity is under threat as are the beaches where it is quickly spreading...’.
From El País in English here: ‘The Mediterranean is warming up faster than the rest of the planet, report warns. Some 500 million people are at risk of drought, lack of freshwater and food shortages if no action is taken’.
The Junta de Andalucía supports the sale of electric motorcycles to the public with a subsidy of 700€ says iMotos here.
In the opinion of Pere Navarro, leader of the DGT, "Electric vehicles are very expensive and we have nowhere to plug them in. We made the mistake of selling a product that is hard to recharge and the price is very expensive. We are all wrong." The remarks come from a recent speech given by the traffic supremo and found in an article in El Mundo here.
‘Spanish is consolidated as the second most spoken language in the world. 580 million people, 7.6% of the world's population, speak our language. Of these, 483 million - three million more than a year ago - are native Spanish speakers. In addition, almost 22 million people study el español in 110 countries. Spanish is the third most used language on the internet, where it has great growth potential...’. A report from El Imparcial here.
There is the old joke of the stricken dictator lying in his hospital bed listening to the howls of the crowd outside the window shouting ‘Adiós Franco’. The caudillo raises his head weakly from the pillow and asks the nurse ‘Why are they shouting that? Where are they all going?’ Now, almost 45 years after his death and burial in the Valle de los Caidos, Franco is on the move again.
It's March 23, 1959. The radio waves crackle and broadcast begins: "Govorit Radio Svoboda" (Говорит Радио Свобода - "This is Radio Liberty speaking..."). From the other side of the Iron Curtain, the radio broadcasts of US-funded Radio Liberty reached deep inside the Soviet Union. This was an opening line destined to enter Cold War folklore. What most of those clandestinely tuning in could not possible imagine is the unlikely location those broadcasts were coming from. This quiet beach resort of Platja de Pals, Gerona, tucked between the Mediterranean Sea and the greenery of pine groves and rice paddies, makes for an unlikely Cold War front line, but this is exactly the role it played for nearly half a century...’. Item from CNN here.
From Artnet here: ‘The Prado turned down the Louvre’s request to borrow three El Grecos. The Paris museum opens a major survey of the Old Master, which is due to travel to Chicago in the spring’.
‘Algeciras to Ronda by Train - Mr Henderson's Railway in Algeciras Municipality in Cádiz Province’. An article from the useful Visit Andalucía site here.
From the same site, ‘Andalucía Bookshelf - Books on Andalucía by authors who live there’.
A nice photographic entry from The Daily Mail here: ‘Incredible pictures capture the diversity of the stunning Spanish landscape, from its snow-topped mountains to its ancient cities and golden beaches’.
Some comic adverts from the director Javier Fesser collected together on YouTube here.