The regional elections in Castilla y León are upon us, with voting due on Sunday February 13th. The likely winner will be the current president of the autonomy Alfonso Fernández Mañueco and his party, the PP. However, he will almost certainly need the support of a second party as he did back in 2019 with Ciudadanos.
This election was precipitously called just after the Ciudadanos councillors were ejected from the government by Mañueco, so he certainly won’t be planning to rely on that party. Furthermore, generally speaking, Ciudadanos is currently melting faster than snow on a hotplate.
Mañueco’s only likely ally following the election returns will be Vox – and what will be their price?
Vox is something of a dark horse. We know that it is far-right, or fascist, or Nazi (I’m misquoting a judge here), but it is bringing in around 20% of the vote at the present time. The only way to lower that is to move the Partido Popular further to the right, banning abortions, gay marriage and euthanasia and maybe even ‘tourism from other races’ (here). They would also need to support bullfighting, hunting, the armed forces and religious lessons and parental supervision in school – nothing too harsh, but gentle signs on the road towards extremism.
The results in 2019 in Castilla y León – an area of nine provinces (the largest region in Spain) which holds the cities of Burgos, Salamanca and Valladolid – gave the PSOE 35, the PP 29 and C’s 13 councillors. Vox got just one seat. Current projections give the PSOE 27 and the PP 36. Ciudadanos might get 1, Unidas Podemos maybe 3 and Vox appears to be standing at 10. All the latest poll results are at Wiki here.
A further wrinkle in the region is the brand new party that represents – or claims to – the empty forgotten bits of the countryside: the España Vaciada.
Nationally, the single-province version of the Forgotten Spain, Teruel Existe, supports the PSOE/IU Government.
Following from a supposed PP/Vox victory, we would then expect something similar in Andalucía this summer, possibly with a modest Ciudadanos presence (the date hasn’t been set, but it could be as early as May). How would the national government, and indeed the Spanish people, react to such a couple of major wins for the right, righter and rightest?
From The Corner here: ‘The State plans to facilitate the promotion of 100,000 affordable rental housing units, half of which will come from Sareb, the Spanish bad bank created in 2012, along with other financial entities and investment funds. On the one hand, the Administration is in negotiations with the funds for them to contribute 30,000 homes, which would continue to be their property, in addition to the 15,000 that Sareb would contribute. The banks would be in charge of the rest, up to 50,000. The remaining 50,000 of the plan would originate from the public housing stock…’.
From ABC here: ‘The main points to the new Ley de Vivienda (housing law): rent controls (for those who own and rent over ten homes) and fines for empty flats. The Government says that the rule will end speculation and make housing more accessible to young people, despite criticism from real estate companies’. And the banks of course.
Baleares Inmobiliaria will rent you an apartment with three rooms for just 450€ per month, payment up front muchas gracias. Just another online scam says Maldita here.
La Voz de Cádiz looks at local illegal construction. It says ‘Cádiz is, without a doubt, the province that currently presents the heaviest urban tension due to illegal actions on rural land. With the entry of the Moreno government in Andalucía in 2018, the serious situation facing urban planning in Cadiz was revealed. The regional government estimated the total number of irregular dwellings distributed throughout Cádiz at around 50,000. They say there are 16,951 between the Bahía and Jerez, 14,078 in the hills of Cádiz and Ronda; 6,841 in La Janda, 5,358 in the Bay of Algeciras and 4,805 on the Northwest Coast of Cádiz…’.
‘"Little by little we are approaching the numbers seen in 2019” says the president of the Association of Hotel Entrepreneurs of the Costa del Sol (AEHCOS), José Luque, according to hotel occupancy estimates for the first months of this year and air reservation. Similar forecasts are also appearing from the hoteliers of Benidorm…’. Hosteltur reports.
From The Olive Press here: ‘Foreign tourism in Spain rebounded by over 64% in 2021 to 31million tourists although the visitor numbers still show a massive shortfall on pre-pandemic levels’.
Oddly, Mojácar decided against attending the Fitur world travel exhibition in Madrid this year, much to the surprise of its citizens.
'The Court of Justice of the European Union has declared illegal the Spanish legislation that obliges residents to declare assets and rights abroad through the so-called Modelo 720. The court considers that the sanctions and fines imposed by this model are "disproportionate" and undermine the free movement of capital in the European Union.
The European court has thus agreed with the European Commission, which in 2019 resorted to the community courts after asking Spain to unsuccessfully modify legislation that, in its opinion, imposes "disproportionate" sanctions on those who do not make the declaration or present it out of time...'.
What does that mean? So far, not much... as Spain mulls over whether to accept the ruling, or to anticipate major fines.
For the time being, it’s up to Hacienda. Story from LaSexta here.
Spanish Property Insight says ‘Expats in Spain will soon live with a milder version of the Modelo 720 worldwide asset declaration form after EU court rules the worst aspects illegal’. The form will probably ‘…be tweaked to get around the ECJ’s objections and carry on being a headache for expats in Spain with assets of 50,000€ or more (per asset class) abroad.
The good news is the fines and penalties for falling foul of the Modelo 720 are expected to be much lighter, so it won’t be such a big risk for expats living in Spain…’.
European funds. The European Commission evidently has no problem with the way in which Spain is managing the European funds, heavily criticised as they are by the PP, but even the president of the EU Ursula von der Leyen has felt obliged to send a signed letter to congratulate the Government says elDiario.es here. LaSexta has video of von der Leyen and Sánchez signing the European recuperation funds and says ‘In the letter, Von der Leyen highlights "the quality of the Spanish plan as well as the excellent cooperation between the Spanish authorities and the Commission services"’.
From 20Minutos here: ‘Spain closed 2021 with a historical record of tax collection and exceeded budgetary expectations. The Minister of Finance reports that almost 30,000 million euros more were collected last year than in 2020’.
Sur in English has ‘Spain’s self-employed pay the most expensive fees in Europe. The minimum contribution is 294 euros per month, much higher than the UK and Germany’.
From the ABC Seville here: ‘Andalucía leads the creation of employment in Spain and its unemployment rate falls to 20.18%, the lowest in fourteen years’. 20Minutos has the numbers nationally, here. *Spain’s unemployment level nationally is 13.33%. European Union unemployment stands at 6.5%. El País reports a small rise in el paro for January.
There are stories around to say that Pablo Casado has lost the confidence of his mentor José María Aznar. According to El Mundo, Aznar, without mentioning him by name, says ‘It’s not so much who is going to end up as president, as what is he going to do once he’s there’. ECD tries to put things in perspective: ‘Pablo Casado acknowledges that he cannot control Aznar, as is the case with Pedro Sánchez with Felipe González’.
Pablo Casado says that the Spanish nation is currently living its darkest hours (oh, what to do, what to do). The story here.
elDiario.es further explores Pablo Casado’s lies and exaggerations here. Say something enough times, and people will believe it. One thing he won’t be drawn on – will Vox use the PP as a trampoline into the next general elections?
The new Labour Reform law will be voted on Thursday. The Government says it has the support of Ciudadanos.
Following on from their presence in the regional elections of Castilla y León, the new España Vaciada group will present candidatures in at least ten other provinces: Lugo, Orense, Huesca, Zaragoza, Cuenca, Ciudad Real, Albacete, Guadalajara, Cáceres y Badajoz.
In next-door Portugal, the Sunday general elections returned the socialists with an increased majority. Prime Minister António Costa now has an absolute majority.
‘The first casualty of a war is the truth. These days you will see covers and photomontages as crude as this one from the ABC. It is signed by David Alandete, a collaborator of the Atlantic Council, a NATO lobby based in the USA’. Here.
‘Morocco does not ease up and now adds Ceuta and Melilla to its habitual pressure over the Sahara’ says Europa Press here. For foreign readers, it is sometimes difficult to resolve Spain’s hold on Melilla and Ceuta – and half a dozen tiny islands and headlands – while it also claims Gibraltar in the same breath. It’s not an easy subject, but it is safe to say that 160,000 Spaniards live in the North African enclaves, and a further 34,000 Gibraltarians live on the Rock. To wilfully and severely inconvenience 200,000 people is a strong undertaking.
From Travel & Leisure here: ‘Spain May Soon Become the Latest Country to Offer a Digital Nomad Visa. The visa would allow stays between six and 12 months’. The decision could be announced within the next few months. From EuroNews, it’s even better. They say ‘…This could then be extended by up to two times’ bringing a ‘digital nomad’s’ stay up to three years. It says ‘Around 30 towns and villages across Spain have decided to join the Red Nacional de Pueblos Acogedores para el Teletrabajo here (or National Network of Welcoming Villages for Remote Workers) to encourage digital nomads to visit. They all have under 5,000 residents and want to attract new settlers to repopulate their streets’.
El Confidencial interviews the Irish MEP Mick Wallace, with the headline: ‘Ukraine crisis: "European foreign minister Josep Borrell is no good at the job, he has been a disaster". The leftist MEP Mick Wallace is a member of the Security and Defence subcommittee of the European Parliament’.
Spain is losing its Romanians, says EPE here, with 278,000 Romanians having left Spain in the past decade, either to return home or to seek life in another European country.
From the Sur in English here: ‘The Junta de Andalucía attempts to tackle appointment backlog in the region's health centres. Family doctors, nurses and paediatricians have been given the option to work more hours in the afternoon in the centres under the most pressure. Patients should have to wait no more than four days for a face-to-face consultation’.
Say, whatever happened to The Pandora Papers? That story soon got squashed!
Censorship, copyright or legal protection – whatever the reason, the Ministry of Culture has banned 144 webpages in the past decade. Another 558 have seen the light and quietly disappeared. They are listed here at Banda Ancha (mostly video downloaders like The Pirate Bay). On the other hand, there’s always VPN…
David Jiménez (once the editor of El Mundo) says ‘The problem in journalism is that the average hack makes 50€ an article while the one that gets to chatter (el tertuliano) on the TV or the radio takes home 6,000€ a pop’. An interview with Jiménez is at El Español here.
‘Spain is one of the countries in the world where there is more distrust in the media. This is confirmed once again by the prestigious Edelman Trust Barometer study in its 2022 edition.
According to this report, trust in the media fell again last year, down to 40 points (2 less than in the 2021 study). With this figure, Spain continues to be among the countries where the greatest mistrust reigns…’. An item from the oddly-named Dircomfindencial here. The larger picture, with the Edelman Trust Barometer 2022, is here.
Pablo Iglesias at ctxt says that "Disinformation campaigns on networks are coordinated with the media and with politicians from Vox, PP and C's". He interviews Julian Macías, author of a page called Pandemia Digital which looks at the manipulators across Spain and Latin America here. Or is this all just propaganda too?
Gerardo Tecé is a clever left-wing writer. Here at ctxt he writes ‘How I got to know Pablo Casado’. Along the way, ‘…Pablo Casado who, in addition to causing major tension, and evident institutional irresponsibility, has an academic career with gifted master's degrees, attends masses in homage to those who murdered millions of Spaniards or rallies in front of flocks of sheep – I’m not being metaphorical here – none of these elements, each of them deserving of resignation in a health democracy, appears to take its toll…’. They should make a TV series on this fascinating politician says the writer.
Who reads what, how many, and for how long? Digital audience for January 1 – 15.
How about a large off-shore wind-farm, just a few kilometres from the Cabo de Gata? Not everyone is sold on the idea… Almería is Different reports ‘A company called “Parque Eólico Marino Mar de Ágata, SL”, intends that the 20 floating wind turbines, 261 meters high, will be placed at a minimum distance of 6.5 km from the coast (Punta de los Muertos), 10 km from Agua Amarga and almost 12 from Las Negras. For the Stop Parque Eólico Mar de Ágata platform this location is "inadmissible". It refers to its effects on the landscape, since it threatens the "unique values" that characterize the park, due to its proximity to it. They also point out that this can cause a "negative impact" on the local economy, which depends largely on the leisure resource derived from the landscape…’. What on earth will the guests at the new hotelito have to say about it all?
Wednesday was (is!) World Wetlands Day, and El País says that the Guardia Civil in a macro operation against water theft have arrested 133 people and located 1,533 illegal wells following an eight-month investigation. Murcia was the hardest-hit province.
Nerva, a town in Huelva, receives tons of garbage direct from Montenegro. They just got 14,000 tons of it and another 7,000 is on the way by tanker. The rubbish, some of it toxic, also comes from Italy, Greece and Malta says As here. Business, apparently, is business.
In Rianxo (La Coruña) a tragic spill of toxic waters into the sea by a company owned by a local ex-alcalde, says Público here, is killing the shellfish there claim the local fishermen.
A full and interesting article on Spanish spiders by Molly Grace at Inglorious Bustards here.
No doubt with some satisfaction, elDiario.es runs an article titled ‘The Supreme Court tells Vox that comparing them to the Nazis is not a hate crime. The chamber rejected the right-wing party's appeal against the inadmissibility of a complaint filed against Minister Ione Belarra for a hate crime for describing them as "unmasked Nazis"’.
The CaixaBank says it will ‘not abandon’ its elderly clients, following the campaign from, precisely, an elderly client. Las Provincias reports that the president of the bank made encouraging remarks at a press conference last week ‘…to present the results of the entity in 2021, which closed with an adjusted profit of 2,359 million euros, without taking into account the impact of the merger with Bankia, which brought the profit up to 5,226 million’.
A long article from someone who used to work in a budget rent-a-car company, and the many ways they have of ripping off the customer. One point being that the company pays a small commission to the agent on any ‘extras’ that he can charge the client. The four things to watch for at the car-rental agency, with The Olive Press here.
An extraordinary story this week of an assault on a town hall meeting in Lorca on Monday by a number of irate pig-farmers. They were only held back from entering the chamber by a squad of local policemen. The debate inside was about the distance of piggeries from each other, homes, schools and so on. Vox and the PP organised the onslaught claims Diario 16 here, which, says the mayor Diego José Mateos from the PSOE, was like the attack on the US Capitol, only with pigs. A comic is said to be making caps that read: ‘Make Murcia Great Again’. ‘We were tricked’ said one of the raiders later, a goats-cheese maker here. A security camera shows the events here. Two members of the local PP youth organisation have now been identified as instigators of the riot. Will they get, ah, exemplary sentences?
El Confidencial takes us ‘on a voyage to Porcilandia’ – a trip to a Lorca-based piggery, which it says ‘is the clockwork-bomb that triggered the attack on the town hall’.
A broken Facebook link brought me, by a roundabout route, to a story from El Español about the poorest village in Spain. Walili is a barrio of Níjar in Almería where some 800 North Africans farm-workers live in terrible poverty. The homes there are typically bidonvilles-style crates and cardboard combos usually measuring less than 5m2.
An investigator was wondering what had happened to all the old statues of the Caudillo. Well, they are in storage at nine secret locations apparently. Julia Schulz-Dornburg has written a book called "¿Dónde está Franco?". More on this here.
A couple of years old, this one. From ECSaharaui here: ‘How Prince Juan Carlos sold Western Sahara to Morocco’. Papers from the CIA released in 2020 hold the clue. For students of history, the CIA ‘Electronic Reading Room’ is here. Lots on Spain…
The Citroën Ami – that clever battery-run city car – has a delivery version now.
‘Did Spain Get a Bit Tamer Over the Years, Or Is It Me?’ – A story of mine here.
Back to Inglorious Bustards homepage here: ‘Located in the coastal hills of Andalucía just outside the picturesque Spanish town of Tarifa, the Inglorious Bustards are based right at the epicentre of birding in The Straits of Gibraltar. And from a migrating raptor’s point of view, we must surely also be at the centre of the world! Inglorious Bustards are birders, conservationists, travellers, and all-around Nature-lovers…’.
Rafa Nadal. ¡Olé!