There's a big fuss going on in expat circles (or at the very least, there should be) about a news item saying that the European Court of Justice has ruled on a case in France regarding the remaining voting rights of the British residents living in the EU.
The ECJ ruled last Thursday that the British, being non EU-members following Brexit, have no voting rights within the block.
At El País we read: 'The EU justice rules that British residents have lost European citizenship with Brexit. The ECJ clarifies that UK citizens cannot vote or be elected in municipal elections'.
In Spain, there are some bilateral agreements allowing votes in municipal elections for a number of countries. These include several Latin American states (but not all), plus Norway, New Zealand, Iceland, South Korea and - for some impenetrable reason - Trinidad & Tobago. Following the ruling of the ECJ, all of those nationals would also lose their right to vote in local elections.
With Brexit, the Brits lost their vote in the European elections (not that any continental MEP was ever going to speak for the 1,000,000 or so Brits living in Europe – while the British MEPs ignored us completely), but, we were assured, we would not only keep our vote in local ('municipal') elections, but would be able to continue to run as a candidate.
Indeed, despite the fact that most foreign residents don't tune in to their local municipality, there are a modest number of foreign and even a few Brit councillors here and there in Spain.
Now it would follow that, if the ECJ authority takes precedence over any bilateral arrangement, that all non-EU foreigners - not just Brits - would lose whatever modest suffrage that they had enjoyed since 1999 (the first municipal elections in Spain where foreign EU citizens, then including Brits, could vote). In all, with the South Americans added in, at least a million votes would be removed from the ballot-boxes.
The problem is obvious. If the town hall must choose discrepancies or squabbles between voters and non-voters, it's clear which way they will go. Why waste time on people who can't vote for you - or indeed, against you?
The question is whether this is a storm in a tea-cup, or the future European policy. The British Embassy in Madrid says that 'This judgement does not affect UK nationals’ right to vote and stand in local elections in Spain. These are provided by the bilateral agreement between the UK and Spain, which allows UK nationals who have lived in Spain for more than three years to vote and stand in local elections'.
The next local elections will be held in May 2023. We need to know: will we have the vote?
Now we need to hear from the Ministry of the Interior.
To be sure - It’s likely that nothing much will come of this – unless (and until) Vox gets into power.
Home-ownership is high in Spain compared to other European nations. However, for those who do rent rather than pay a mortgage or are simply owners, Cinco Días reports that over 35% of tenants are paying as much as 40% of their income just on the monthly rent. Worse, around 50% of all tenants in Spain are ‘at risk of poverty or social exclusion’.
From Spanish Property Insight here, we read ‘Country property in high demand as buyers seek refuge from both disease and inflation’. There’s a lot to be said for living quietly in ‘the boonies’ (or ‘the sticks’), where life is slower, quieter and possibly smellier. We meet one satisfied buyer – Chris Stewart who lives on a farm in the Alpujarras. Mark Stücklin says in his article that ‘there is a shortage of Spanish rural land for sale in the most popular areas’. La Información might come to the buyer’s rescue with an article titled ‘The 80 towns in Spain that are looking for new residents: with houses for rent as low as €100 per month’. The article says that ‘The 80 selected municipalities are located in eight communities: Andalucía, Aragón, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, Comunidad Valenciana, the Comunidad Foral de Navarra, Extremadura and Galicia. All of them are characterized by meeting the minimum conditions to welcome a new population; that is, housing supply, nearby public services such as a school and health centre and internet connection…’ The selected pueblos are at Holapueblo here.
Not enough homes, and too many people. From the Mallorca Daily Bulletin, we read of ‘the exorbitant prices for homes because of the common purchase of homes for non-residential use. Many properties are only used for a few weeks a year and otherwise remain empty. Meanwhile, the people of the Balearic islands, who are resident, do not have access to decent housing…’ The local Podemos party wants to see people providing proof of a minimum of two years of residence before being permitted to buy a home on the islands in an effort to contain prices there.
From Idealista here: ‘Tourism in Spain 2022: Spain is among the top four destinations for tourists. Travelling to Spain in 2022 is set to be a popular option, ranking behind the US, the UK and Switzerland. This is according to a Mastercard study of 37 countries...’ In 2019, the most popular – by numbers of visitors – were France, Spain, USA and China in fourth position says Wiki here. Perhaps they didn’t all use Mastercard back then.
‘The Spanish Government has approved a total of €110 million investment from Next Generation EU funds in order to improve tourism competitiveness in several territories, including the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla…’. Says SVI here.
elDiario.es looks at the problems currently threatening one’s peaceful holiday plans: ‘early vacations, last minute reservations, the lack of staff at airports and inflation worries’. Suddenly, everyone wants a break following the experience of the last couple of years…
Ryanair is on strike – says FACUA – on June 24, 25 and 26, and on June 30, July 1 and 2. Those affected by the strike can claim at least 250€ from the company in compensation.
Item: Expect probable traffic congestion in Madrid and the surrounding airspace thanks to the NATO summit, from June 27-31. Security controls will be extremely tight, even for some days before the summit starts.
From La Vanguardia here (or here): ‘The Balearic Islands are beginning to put limits on the mass tourism from which they have been living since the sixties. With more than 625,000 tourist places for a population of just 1.2 million inhabitants, the islands support one of the highest tourist densities in the Mediterranean. Each year more than sixteen million visitors arrive at the four islands, consuming water, generating waste, collapsing roads and filling the idyllic beaches…’. The article considers the various strategies to limit or control these excesses.
From Cinco Días here: ‘Spain’s public debt breaks a record of 1.45 trillion euros (1,45 billones) and stands at 117.7% of GDP, already exceeding the goal for the year. In the last twelve months, public debt has increased by 60,780 million euros, although it is forecast by the Banco de España to finally end the year at 115.2% of GDP’.
From elDiario.es here: ‘Five banks control 70% of the business: the concentration in Spain exceeds that of Germany, France and Italy. Last year’s mergers show the power of large entities: the Santander, BBVA, CaixaBank, Banco Sabadell and Unicaja now control 70% of the Spanish market…’
The CaixaBank, says ECD here, has been forced to warn its clients that it has suffered a major cyber-attack while working on its customers’ tax-returns.
The BoT editorial this week worries about the possible loss of suffrage for some or all non-EU voters in local elections – a decision which is down to the Spanish Government (and depends on which party within the government considers the issue to be important). The news began with a ruling over a case brought in France and (perhaps) ended with the British Embassy in Madrid saying that it was of no consequence, and that the Spanish have a bilateral agreement with the British (who never break EU-agreements, or to be more accurate, hardly ever). Some links: DW here: ‘UK citizens in EU can't vote in local elections, ECJ rules. British nationals living in EU countries are not allowed to vote or run in municipal elections as an "automatic consequence" of Brexit, the bloc's top court said’. The Express here: ‘EU bans British expats from voting in local European elections in major post-Brexit change’, The Olive Press here with ‘The rules for expat Brits regarding voting in elections in Spain’ and EuroCitizens2020 here: ‘It is important to highlight that the judgement does not affect UK nationals’ right to vote and stand in local elections in Spain says British Embassy’. We await commentary from an official Spanish source on this point.
Electricity prices to fall, says EPE here: ‘One day after the European Commission officially endorsed the Iberian proposal to limit the price of gas used to produce energy between 40 euros and 70 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh) in the next twelve months, the Congress of Deputies validated last Thursday the royal decree law that shapes this mechanism with the abstention of the Popular Party and Vox. With this measure, which will begin to operate in the auction on June 14 and, therefore, will begin to be noticed in the electricity prices in the wholesale market the following day, June 15, the Government estimates that it will lower the bill for domestic consumers by 15% and for industrial consumers by 20%...’
The headline at El Huff Post here: ‘Light at the end of the tunnel. The price of electricity will fall by 22.6% after the entry of the 'Iberian exception'. The average cost of electricity will go from 214 euros on average this Tuesday to 165 euros, with the application of the cap on natural gas’. The current heat-wave, of course, is not helping, with its higher than usual energy demand says El Español here, which helpfully calls the price-control ‘a fiasco’.
The ruling over the dreadlocked Alberto Rodríguez, who was ejected from the Parliamentary ranks of Podemos back in October last year by the Speaker of the House for allegedly kicking a cop in an altercation in 2014, has now been revoked by the Constitutional Court says El Periódico here. The Canaries branch of Podemos had all-along refused to send a substitute to replace Rodríguez saying that they wouldn’t play ball with the earlier ruling, leaving the Government in an even more precarious majority.
From Politico (in English) here: ‘Spain's pop polarizer: The unlikely rise of Isabel Díaz Ayuso. The president of the Madrid region has found success by never shying from a fight — or the far right’. The article says ‘A member of the conservative Popular Party, Ayuso is now arguably Sánchez’s most dangerous rival — a position she’s reached through a combination of charisma, bravado and willingness to work with Spain’s surging far right…’
Andalucía Elections June 19:
The winner of the vote next Sunday will be the PP’s Juanma Moreno, a middle-of-the road conservative. The fear is, of course, that he will have to pact with Vox..
From El Huff Post here, the profile of an Andalusian Vox voter. They say, men between 45 and 54, practicing Catholics and members of the security forces. Their candidate in Andalucía is Macarena Olona who – and give her her due – is an attractive and intelligent looking lady as we saw on the recent TV debates. Their campaign slogan is Un Cambio Real, which translates as a real change (they got that right!). Real also means Royal: the party being a patriotic flag-waver. We see enthusiastic party support in Almería in the towns with high levels of immigrants (who of course can’t vote): El Ejido, Adra, Balanegra, La Mojonera, Vícar, Roquetas de Mar, Huércal de Almería, Níjar and Pulpí.
Gerardo Tecé at ctxt watched the debate on Monday night (and makes us laugh).
The candidate for the PSOE-A is Juan Espadas with his slogan derechos o derechas (Rights or The Right). If everyone who supports the PSOE were to vote, he says wistfully…
From Catalan News here: ‘A court in the Pyrenean microstate of Andorra is set to investigate former Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy and two of his former cabinet ministers (Jorge Ferández Díaz and Cristóbal Montoro) for allegedly blackmailing bank directors in 2014 to get them to release information regarding Catalan independence leaders’ private accounts in what has come to be known as ‘Operation Catalonia’…’
From The Guardian here: ‘Barcelona to install sound level monitors in bid to beat noise pollution. Noise meters will be deployed to confirm ‘acoustically stressed’ areas where action will be taken’.
‘The European Parliament champions safe access to abortion and calls to decriminalize it throughout the European Union. Likewise, it demands access to reproductive health services without incurring any type of discrimination’. El Heraldo has the story here.
From the RTVE here, ‘The Scottish Government launches its campaign for a second referendum on independence from the UK’. As do any other European, the Spanish like this idea – only, it had better not encourage those Catalonians to try anything similar!
The Express reports that ‘Foreign nationals have been granted the right to stand in local elections in Scotland after MSPs backed "important" new legislation. The Scottish Local Government Elections (Candidacy Rights of Foreign Nationals) Bill was passed unanimously in Holyrood on Thursday. The Bill allows all nationals of Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Spain the opportunity to stand in council elections, with ministers being granted power to add to the list of countries with the arrangement using regulations...’
‘The Government has approved this Tuesday, at the meeting of the Council of Ministers, the processing of a preliminary bill to prevent public health from being privatized. This is the Law of Equity, Universality and Cohesion of the National Health System, which has as its main objectives that of guaranteeing the universality of health, eliminating the co-payment of non-urgent medical transport and that of prosthetics and orthopaedics for vulnerable people prioritizing direct public management or limiting referrals of patients to the private sector to the essential while minimizing the difference in benefits by community…’ In short, Spain’s public health system, under threat from private health services, receives the guarantee ‘…to unify the portfolio of services throughout the country so that all citizens enjoy the same benefits, regardless of where they reside’. El Huff Post has the story here.
‘The Prosecutor's Office asks for jail for twelve independentistas for demonstrating against mass tourism in Palma de Mallorca’ with, er, confetti. The story at elDiario.es here.
From El Independiente here: ‘Spain reaches the summer season with the water-reservoirs at a historic minimum: "We are bordering on water collapse", say the experts. The reservoirs are now at 49% of their capacity, 20 points less than the average of the last decade. The situation is extremely serious in Andalucía, whose reserves are as low as 35%’. We read: ‘"If a dry autumn comes, which could perfectly well happen like last year, there will be supply problems for populations in the southern half of Spain," says Santiago Barajas, from Ecologistas en Acción. "We are bordering on water collapse, that is, there is the possibility that there will be several million people with restrictions on access to water."…’ Another story, from the same news-site, says that the electric companies intend to use hydraulic energy to compensate for their losses due to the price constraints on gas.
‘The Catalan coast is left without beaches: “We have urbanized very badly and the sea recovers what belongs to it”’. Climate change and the construction of infrastructures that have not taken into account the characteristics of the area have caused the sand to disappear in some municipalities says elDiario.es here (with a shocking photo of a broken stairway leading to a naked rock).
Now what? The DGT intends to make it harder for the elderly to renew their driving licence. MotorPasión says those over 65 will face new tests before renewal. Details are still to be worked out before the new rules come in next year, but one suggestion on the table is for those over 70 years old to be tested every two years.
More from the DGT (give them their due, they don’t sit still). From 20Minutos, an item on four vehicles which 16 year-olds and up will soon be able to drive. The licence will be called a B1 and the vehicles mentioned are all electric, with a top speed allowed of 90kph.
New cars from next month will have an Intelligent Speed Adaptation – a gizmo which ‘informs, warns and discourages the driver to exceed the statutory local speed limit (here)’. It sounds a bit dangerous to this reporter (and a bit Big Brotherly too). El Español enthuses here. Second-hand car prices are rising says MotorPasión here.
Air Nostrum has ordered ten passenger blimps for 2026 from a small British company says The Guardian here.
Following Spain’s cozying up to Morocco, Algeria said it would drop the twenty-year entente cordiale with Spain and would freeze its commercial relations. We think of the gas-line that supplies about 23% of Spain’s consumption. After being accused of being in Russia’s pocket, and threatened by a Europe united, Algeria backed down, fired its minister of finance and said that all was as before. Meanwhile, the PP leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo assured Algeria that Spain was not Pedro Sánchez (sic.).
La Voz de Almería has a leader on Wednesday titled: 'The five smaller pueblos of Almería that are attracting the interest of the foreign buyer'. These are: Laroya, Arboleas, Albanchez, Lubrín and Turre. I've never heard of the first one, Laroya, which is inland, heading towards Macael. Here’s its tourism-page.
The Olive Press looks at some of Spain lady bullfighters here.
I have been in Facebook jail for a while now – and set to continue for a couple of weeks more. Like most autocracies, there’s no such thing there as a fair trial. While their Thought Police are badly paid individuals from the Third World with a shaky comprehension of English is not in much doubt, I have been collecting some nice photographs of kittens for when I’m finally allowed back.
BBQBoy and Spanky – a pair of intrepid bloggers from Canada – bring us ‘The Best Moorish Sites in Spain (and our favourite!)’ here. The article includes some great photos and several videos. Their favourite? The same as mine.
From Eye on Spain here: ‘A library in Spain has hidden a replica of the Statue of Liberty for 127 years’. We read that ‘…there is no other work that has deserved so many replicas. There are more than 300 throughout the world and some are largely unknown despite their history behind them. This is the case of the Statue of Liberty that is hidden in the Arús public library, on Paseo San Juan in Barcelona, where a magnificent replica has remained in the same place since 1895…’.
An oddity recommended by Brett from La Batucada Guaricha (a feminist indigenous group from Colombia) performing Hágale Mi Ñera on YouTube here. Good stuff!