Pedro Sánchez may be facing an election year, and even some wobbly polling results, but he is flying high at the present time.
Let’s start with this headline: 'The Government, in full global respect: praise in Davos, Pedro Sánchez on CNN and Yolanda Díaz in The Financial Times. The policies of the Spanish Government are recognized in different relevant spaces and in the media. The president of the World Economic Forum publicly praised the good economic data. Labour Ministers such as those from Brazil or Germany consider Spain a benchmark in labour matters'.
"Congratulations on the good economic results. The same is not happening in the rest of the world", says the President of the World Economic Forum Børge Brende to Pedro Sánchez.
The president participated last week (Tuesday) in the economic forum of Davos in which he had asked the global elites to help governments to oblige companies to pay their share of taxes and to deter them from storing their wealth in tax havens.
Sánchez has one evident advantage over Núñez Feijóo when abroad – he speaks several languages (English, French, Portuguese and Italian) whereas Feijóo admits ruefully that he ‘wished he spoke English’ (we are reminded of Mariano Rajoy when he was asked a question by a BBC reporter in English and his famous reply “Venga, no hombre” before pointing towards a safer bet).
In short, Sánchez looks and sounds the part.
Following Davos, Spain and France signed a historic Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation last week as Sánchez met with Emmanuel Macron in Barcelona for a summit in a meeting described as sharing a European vision. A strategic alliance, no less. It all went well, beyond a protest by the currently reduced independence movement in Barcelona (where one senior independentista was thumped by a police baton during the excitement). One source talks of ‘Language learning, the cross-border hospital in Cerdanya, and the boosting of tourism: Spain and France's Treaty of Barcelona Friendship agreement signed in the Catalan capital aims at strengthening ties in the environment, plus security, culture, and defence’.
Our purpose must be a strong Europe says Emmanuel Macron in an interview with El País.
As Pedro edges towards joining Macron as being recognised internationally as a Statesman (‘a skilled, experienced, and respected political leader or figure’ says the Oxford Dictionary), his image is under ferocious attack from the Right, using facts, fiction, bulos, sometimes manipulation from the media and even the judiciary (lawfare); and, inevitably, pressure, threats and insults from both the public and certain agitators on social media (the probable cause of the abrupt departure of Jacinda Ardern over in New Zealand).
Sánchez renowned abroad may not mean that he will continue to lead Spain after the next domestic elections, of course: but, as they say, forty-eight weeks is a long time in politics.
Video from Spanish Property Insight with Mark Stücklin: ‘Time on the Market: How long does it take to sell a house in Spain? New figures from a property portal give us some idea of how long Spanish properties remain on the market in search of a buyer in different parts of Spain’.
The Local brings a slightly callow selection of cheap(ish) places to buy a house. Jeréz, Murcia, Burgos? Maybe just buy a map of Spain and throw a dart.
From iNews here: ‘Fed up with drowning in people’: Spain calls to limit British property ownership. Brits living in the beautiful Balearic Islands say limiting foreign property ownership would be a first step in helping drive down prices which remain out of reach for many locals’. It’s evident that too many wealthy owners descending on a pretty village will drive the prices up out of the range of the locals (except the ones who open restaurants).
From La Vanguardia here, villages that have turned down the opportunity to join ‘The Most Beautiful Pueblos in Spain’ and other similar promotions.
There is nothing wrong with tourism, but there should be limits: in consideration of the residents.
Not everyone owns a souvenir shop.
In Spain, there are some attractive pueblos that insist that they don't want to be turned into a disneyville.
The words from the President of the World Economic Forum Børge Brende to Pedro Sánchez in a short video (in English, subtitulado en español).
ECD congratulates the Minister of Labour Yolanda Díaz for her work inspectors who were responsible for regularizing 40,000 false self-employed workers during 2022.
BoT mentioned last week that the Big Four had suffered work inspections and were found to be expecting employees to work extra unpaid hours. We now read that these companies have been savagely fined. El Nacional says that they could be obliged to pay anything up to, er, 7,500€ for this illegality.
‘The city of Málaga and its Costa del Sol surroundings are seeing a surge in people moving in from the rest of Europe as lifestyle and working habits change after the Covid-19 pandemic, according to two of Spain's largest homebuilders. Aedas Homes said its sales to foreigners on the Costa del Sol doubled last year, from 124 units sold in 2021 to 248 in 2022, while Neinor Homes SA said about 40% of young people taking on long-term rents in the city since they launched a rental division in 2020 were foreign. That compares with almost no international customers elsewhere in Spain…’. Reuters has the story here.
From an elDiario.es newsletter: ‘The PP and Vox are already staging their differences in the public eye. The Feijóo band are suddenly scandalized with Vox as the Abascalites harden their tone against the PP. A part of this is mere posturing, because we know that they will need each other after the elections, but we also know that in the shooting of action scenes one can also end up doing some real damage’. Over on the left, a similar issue is evident between Yolanda Díaz and Unidas Podemos.
Spain enters into a year of campaigning. The first half for the municipal and (some) regional elections, the second half (influenced by the first-half results) for the General Elections. Who are you going to trust asks elDiario.es here.
The Corner brings a version of historic and current events to provide the background to its claim that ‘…As he trails behind the polls, PM Sánchez still believes he can secure a new tenure after the General Election later this year’. Who knows, maybe he can.
Núñez Feijoo has said that the party with the most votes should be the one to govern. It’s part of his sixty-point plan for España. Only, though, in the municipal elections. In fact, as we read here, in the 2019 elections (and, as an example), the PP would have lost Madrid City Hall to Manuela Carmena (they made a deal with Vox and Ciudadanos).
Here’s 20Minutos last week: ‘The PP agrees to remove Vox from the Junta de Castilla y León if Sánchez agrees to allow the list with the most votes in each – and any - election to govern anywhere in Spain’ (Vox has been causing the PP acute embarrassment with its foetal heart-beat anti-abortion issue). This expanded proposal (similar to the British ‘first past the post’) would bring several changes, as well as bringing about a minority (in some cases) of citizen representation. As things stand now, as ECD says here: ‘The PP barons are warning Feijóo that with this proposal they would likely lose in the Valencian Community, Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, Aragón... after the May elections’.
An anti-Government protest in Madrid last Saturday in Madrid attracted some 31,000 people says El Mundo, of mainly, according to the article, jus’ ordinary folk. The only politician of importance who joined the demo was Santiago Abascal from Vox.
Do you really think Spain is heading towards a dictatorship, Sánchez asks a squirming Cuca Gamarra (the PP’s parliamentary spokesperson). Video and story at El Huff Post here.
Embarrassingly, the Partido Popular can’t withdraw a plea it made in 2010 to the Constitutional Court to disallow free abortion since one of the seventy signatories is dead (and others have since switched into Vox). Currently, some 70 to 80% of the population is in favour of the present abortion legislation says ECD here.
A number of small regional parties have joined into an alliance says Electomanía, including the tall dreadlocked ex-Podemos deputy Alberto Rodriguez with his new Drago (Canary Islands) party. The alliance is currently known as ‘El Acuerdo de Turia’ and is made up of Más País, Verdes Equo, Compromís, Més per Mallorca, la Chunta Aragonesista, Coalición por Melilla and the Movimiento por la Dignidad y la Ciudadanía en Ceuta.
El Español with an interesting statistic. 500,000 people apparently work for Mercadona (what, slightly over one in every 100 Spaniards?) and the UP leader Ione Belarra should think twice before she is rude about the price-gouging supermarket says the article tartly. Elsewhere, we read that all the supermarkets are profiteering at the present time.
Opinion from elDiario.es here: ‘…I don't know if the influence of Pedro Sánchez's policy to defuse the Catalan conflict is working - including his partial pardons for imprisoned independentistas and the controversial legal reforms of sedition and embezzlement - but divide and conquer seems to work. Another thing is the revenue in votes won or lost. According to the polls that predict a rise of the PP to overtake the PSOE in direct vote, it seems that the achievement of the progressive return of tranquillity in Catalonia, that of a pro-independence sentiment of just half what it was a couple of years ago and without much sign of public disorder, becomes for Sánchez in the rest of Spain, and particularly in Andalucía, a threat.
Neither the increase in monthly pensions by 8.5% in a community with very low pensions paid, nor the successive improvements both in salaries generally and for the self-employed, nor the cap on the price of electricity or the lowering of taxes on food, nor the blessings of technological infrastructures in Jaén, Córdoba, Seville and Málaga, or the arrival of the AVE to Granada allowing one to travel to Barcelona in five hours… None of this weighs in Andalucía as much as the persistent and repeated idea that Sánchez favours Catalonia. Added to this is the fact that Catalonia is the only large territory with socialist votes once its historic fortress, Andalucía, has been lost…’
(Mind you, the Canal Sur Andalusian TV is working hard to please its masters.)
December year-on-year inflation was 10.4% in the EU, 9.2% in the Eurozone, and – by country – Spain was the lowest at 5.5%. The figures from Eurostat (via Meneame). Outside the EU, the UK stood at 10.5% and the USA at 6.5% (Google).
From Catalan News here: ‘The H2Med green energy pipeline project connecting Barcelona and Marseille, in southern France, will reach all the way to Germany, the Spanish environmental transition ministry announced in a press release on Sunday. The announcement was made after a Franco-German summit in Paris, where French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Olaf Scholz met. That summit came just days after a France-Spain summit took place in Barcelona, where Macron and Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez signed the first-ever Treaty of Friendship between the two nations’.
From ECD here: ‘It’s been confirmed. Face-masks will no longer be mandatory on public transport and pharmacies ‘from early February’’.
Almost half of all doctors in Public Health have over 1,500 patients to look after. The Balearics and Madrid are the worst, Galicia and Castilla y Leon are the best. With graphic.
From El Confidencial here: ‘Alert in Spanish hospitals: emergency rooms are collapsed in all communities. Services are saturated, with an increase in the care burden that reaches 40% in some regions. The increase in viruses, the lack of resources and weak primary care are some of the culprits’.
From the Diario de Burgos here: ‘The heroic rural pharmacies, which are much more than a medicine dispensary in the depopulated rural world, demand more support from the administration to be able to continue providing much-needed service. ‘We feel forgotten and they only remember us when it matters’, they say’.
The man who sent out various parcel bombs in late November to senior politicians and the Ukrainian embassy has been arrested in his home in Miranda de Ebro, Burgos. The suspect is reported to be a retired funcionario, ‘who admires the Russians’.
The Mayoress of Marbella Ángeles Muñoz has been accused by elDiario.es in a number of recent articles of various shady dealings, plus revelations regarding her husband and her step-son, both said to be involved in drug-running. The mayoress has now sued the news-site for 50,000€. The director of elDiario.es Ignacio Escolar says he has no intention of backing down. He adds – ‘…this news-site has been sued dozens of times already. Sometimes it’s just me alone, other times in the company of another journalist from elDiario.es. This situation is never pleasant. As director, I legally assume all civil and criminal liability for each news item we publish, for each puddle we jump into, for each item we reveal. Every year I spend more time in court, sued by all kinds of people, companies or institutions that do not like our work…’
A popular right-wing radio host called Federico Losantos (Wiki) and his esRadio have turned on the Voxxers after the fuss about the heart-beat abortions in Castilla y León (here). Several videos and undisguised jubilance to be found on a thread here.
‘Ustedes dicen que sois la voz de la opinión público. No, sois la voz de la opinión publicada’. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa to Ana Pastor on El Objetivo in 2014. (‘You say you are the voice of public opinion; but no, you are the voice of published opinion’)
The Government, says 20Minutos here, is waiting for a cheap and popular electric car before it commits to covering the country with energy stations. ‘We want to see an electric seiscientos’ says the Minister for Ecologic Transition Teresa Ribera (the old SEAT 600 was everybody’s car during the later Franco years).
La Razón quotes a study to say that if motorists are charged to take the motorways, then 70% of them say they will switch to the secondary roads, inevitably causing more accidents.
Villainous creatures from the different autonomous regions as imagined by AI (artificial intelligence). All the creatures in pictures at La Casa de El here. Following from this (if you can bear it), here are AI-created politicians pictured as if they were professional wrestlers.
From The Guardian here: ‘What price paradise? How a Mallorcan artists’ haven became ‘a ghost town’. Residents say Deià was once a thriving village community – before the millionaires and billionaires moved in’.
From The Olive Press here (open): ‘Retiring in Spain. The pros and cons of living in a Mediterranean Paradise’.
‘The police find torture chambers in several luxury homes in Marbella, belonging to the Mocro Maffia (a group of North Africans who export hash to Holland and Belgium)’ says an article at VoxPópuli here.
‘Feijóo offers a pact to the PSOE allowing him to become president. If Sánchez doesn’t accept, then he’s nuts’. The headline comes from the parody site El Mundo Today.
Español or castellano? An opinion piece at VoxPópuli reckons on the former. ‘In the madhouse of Spanish autonomous regimes, venomous tribal tongues take the lead. Minor languages, like Catalan or Basque… the latter, by the way, has always seemed to me more like a noise than a jargon, like the crashing of stones. I don't mention Galician, because I think that Galician is a kind of badly enunciated Spanish. In addition to these, there are in Spain a multitude of dialects, patois and gibberish that do not even reach the little-league, they remain insignificant. They are worth money of course, because the minority lingo business in Spain is thriving. Fine and jolly good. However, it is fair to recognize that the only language – and a great language at that – that exists in Spain is Spanish: el español. It is much more than a language, it is the Hispanic tongue!...’
Later in the article he says that ‘castellano’ is a woke-word used by minority tribes to try and bring their regional blathers up to the same level. (I hope I translated that correctly ).
BoT asked edition-consultant José Antonio Sierra his opinion on the above, who replied:
As you know, outside of Spain they call the Spanish language español, and not castellano.
I believe that the languages, dialects and idioms of a country, for as long as its inhabitants want to use them and they happen to exist, should be thought of as one’s linguistic and cultural heritage. It is true that in Spain languages are politicized and their study is not facilitated except in those autonomous communities in which there are recognised co-official languages, which seems to me both an anomaly and quite sad.
I find it unfortunate that languages are used for political purposes: that was the case during Franco and now with a democracy.
J. Antonio Sierra
A promotional video for Madrid. Tasteless? Maybe. (More on the video here and here.)
An interesting tale from Fascinating Spain: ‘Calatrava la Nueva and Salvatierra, the related castles that face each other’.
A Canadian couple move to Fuengirola to live. A video at YouTube here (Thanks to Jake).
BoT 475 editorial: An interesting article. Also how many Brits have been duped by Spanish lawyers working with local developers? It’s human nature unfortunately.
I once knew somebody who liked this singer, here with a song recorded in the Tabernas desert. Ana Mena with Un Clásico on YouTube here. Soy de Almería has a write-up here.