The campaigning has started for the 8,131 municipal elections. Posters stuck up everywhere; indeed, there's nothing else to see or discuss on the TV or the radio until May 26th (May 27th is the 'Day of Reflection', for those who still haven't decided but would really, really like to. Voting Day is Sunday, May 28th, followed, as things wind slowly down, with talking heads, analysis and tears).
We have solid coverage in all the newspapers (except the lower end of the English-language ones, who appear to vaguely suspect that 'the natives are restless' while telling us about the newest dog's-home), and while the kitty doesn't run to much, I got a free lighter from one of the smaller parties. A pity I don't smoke, really.
However (and, alas!), our weekly editorial will veer away from this period of promises and recriminations and go outside to study the skies instead.
After a long period of drought, a weather event, known as una gota fría ('a cold drop') or more accurately una DANA, is upon us: with severe rains and hail and, who knows, maybe our empty reservoirs will have taken on more than a few metres of water in the stormy days to come.
From the weather forecasters, we learn that Spain could be embarking on three weeks of 'extreme weather'. It won't stop the drought, says one candidly while playing with his new lighter, but it will make a nice change.
Still, who is going to trust the weather-folk (or indeed, the politicians)?
As some nitwit says on Twitter (and many believe), 'There are no clouds, because the government is spraying them with chemtrails and, uh, well, we're all gonna die. But what about this DANA weather, with rain and floods, huh? Hah, so convenient. That's because the elections are coming'.
And yes, indeed they are.
The weather channel Meteored is here.
There are 306,136 tourist flats in Spain, according to the National Institute of Statistics, which represents just 1.2% of the housing stock, and 54% are located in just three regions: Andalucía, the Valencian region, and Catalonia. An item from Spanish Property Insight.
'Zulu' (slang for a cell) for rent in Madrid. This tiny 12m2 flat is going for 650? a month. There's not much head-room either says La Vanguardia here.
From The Times here: 'Squatters took over our Spanish villas. Gangs are occupying Britons' second homes in Spain and the law helps them to do it. The only way to get rid of the invaders is to shell out thousands to send in the 'heavies'. Dozens of British second home owners have had their properties targeted by squatters in Spain'. The answer, we read, is to find a desokupa gang who, for a consideration, will eject the squatters forcefully. The article seems to me to be a bit on the improbable side as we can see here. The difference between squatting in an empty house (usurpación) and breaking in to a family-home (allanamiento de morada) is explained in Red Jurídica here. A tenant who suddenly stops paying rent is un moroso (here). Then there's The Daily Mail which says: 'Spanish squatters target Brits' holiday homes: 'Anarchist manifesto' teaches gangs how to steal properties in the country where it typically takes 18 months to have them removed'.
Regardless of whether the okupas are a grave hazard or merely a chimera, the PP candidate for mayor of Badalona (a city north of Barclona) Xavier Garcia Albiol says that if he wins, he will create the first councillor for squatter-control in Spain. 20Minutos reports here.
Valencia Plaza has a story about four Seniors flat-sharing (and enjoying the benefits of 'an extended family').
From 20Minutos here: 'Brussels raises its GDP forecast for Spain in 2023, but the deficit will exceed the 3% required by the European Union in 2024. The European Commission improves its growth forecast for the Spanish economy by half a point'. Inflation stands at 4.1% year-on-year for April says The Corner here.
German Railways (Deutsche Bahn) has confirmed a massive order of 56 trains from Talgo, worth 1,400 million euros.
From The Olive Press here: 'US President Joe Biden warmly welcomed Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to the White House on Friday May 12th, as part of an official visit to Washington that the Socialist Party leader and his team have long been seeking.'. The official report comes from The White House Briefing Room here, noting: '.The United States and Spain intend to work rapidly toward achieving our shared goals to address the climate crisis. They will intensify cooperation on early warning systems, ocean protection, and drought resilience, and continue our strong collaboration on energy security.'. The elDiario.es headline reads 'We are stable allies and friends'.
Every time the elections roll around, the PP worries about the squatters. 'My generation can't even dream of owning a home and the worker spends much of his salary on the rent if he doesn't want to stay home with his parents, but the television just wants me to worry about the Okupas.' says this week's video from Miguel Charisteas. Alarmingly (the joke comes from Seguros Direct), there are more people killing themselves over the threat of desahucios here, here, here and here when the bank forecloses on the home, than any rare case of a family home filled with undesirables. Público makes the same point here.
The other subject close to the heart of the PP is the ETA (which gave up back in 2011). There are a swollen number of ex-etarras in the various party-lists of EH-Bildu in the Basque Country and Navarra (who, understandably, the people in those regions are entirely free not to vote for). Alberto Núñez Feijoo says he can't understand how Pedro Sánchez could partner with the terrorists (El Mundo here), calling it 'indecent' that Sánchez should 'pact, govern and rely on EH-Bildu for the future of Spain'. Sánchez answered a question from Washington last Friday regarding this with 'there are things which are legal, but that doesn't make them decent'. No doubt, like Feijóo, he would rather have an absolute majority and thus avoid making deals with other parties. elDiario.es makes the point in an opinion piece that Feijóo can't campaign on the economy, so he must rely on the terrorists. On Tuesday, the issue imploded after the seven etarras who had served prison sentences for murder announced that they would stand down following the local elections. The parliamentary jester and spokesperson for the ERC, Gabriel Rufián, summed up the events here on Tuesday with 'If in this country all those who have committed similar crimes had to be removed from positions, electoral lists or public responsibilities, then the PP, Vox and the Guardia Civil would all be in the frame'.
The best campaign video? Ganas with Isabel Díaz Ayuso.
We sometimes hear of those foreigners 'keeping under the radar' as they continue their lives here in Spain (or elsewhere within the Schengen Area) hoping that their lack of residence papers won't catch up with them. From SVI here: 'Over one million non-EU citizens were found illegally present across the EU in 2022, Eurostat reveals'. The article deals principally with refugees and migrants entering from the east.
Let's start with Wiki's introduction: 'José Manuel Villarejo (Córdoba, August 3, 1951) is a Spanish businessman and a former officer in Spain's National Police Corps. He was arrested in 2017 and could face a jail term of 109 years if convicted. He is accused of involvement in a network of corrupt politicians, businesspeople, police officers and media figures known as the "sewers of state". His trial started in October 2021.' and continues. Villarejo himself seems perfectly happy to 'spill the beans', now that a number of compromising recordings that he made with politicians and other important figures he plotted with over the years have recently surfaced. Villarejo, who was always available for right-wing plotters, is a contrary person. He says that 'if I am still alive by December, I'll vote for my idol, Pedro Sánchez'.
From elDiario.es here: 'Villarejo distributes ammunition in Congress. The lies, half-truths, recordings and statements by the ex-commissioner are useful material for all the parties; but the only hope, albeit very limited, of debugging responsibilities for the dirty war against the independence movement and Podemos remains in the courts.
Media-tics reports that 'Spaniards are less and less interested in the news content of the media. The population's interest in news content continues to decline, following the 2021 trend. The average drop is 7% over last year; higher in television (-11%) and somewhat less in digital media (-4%). However, Radio news shows a 4% increase in audience confidence since 2019.'. Sur in English says that '.A total of 59% of respondents aged between 18 and 29 believe that "social networks" are a reliable source of information. This percentage drops radically as age increases. Also, four out of ten citizens in this age group agree that social networks "provide better and more reliable information than the traditional media". Social networks practically unknown to the over-50s, such as Tik Tok, have become the platform where many young people go to get information on a daily basis, without watching television, and rarely reading a digital newspaper'.
El Periódico reports that the police are finding huge numbers of fake social media accounts proclaiming bulos regarding the upcoming elections - notably over the alleged manipulation of the system of vote-counting (which is silly, as reps from all the parties in the circumscription are present and able to call for a recount). Watch for the word 'pucherazo' (wiki), which means behind-the-scenes vote deals.
TV chat-show host Ana Rosa Quintana may be the champion of manipulated news says Público here, but she is merely part of a media-plan masterminded by Silvio Berlusconi, owner of MediaForEurope (wiki), which holds 83% of MediaSet España (Telecinco and Cuatro). If all goes well, warns the article, the Italian magnate will soon be buying up the moribund Grupo Prisa (El País and La Cadena Ser) - despite a veto from the current PSOE government. From ECD here: 'Feijóo has met twice with the Spanish director of MediaSet España Borja Prado to address the media company's position with a possible PP executive'. The PP leader would allow the conservative group to freely enter into Prisa says the article.
Following from the issue over Doñana, where the Junta de Andalucía is willing to allow more farming and the use of 'alegal' wells, as the Government in Madrid and the European Commission in Brussels stands aghast, news comes from El Confidencial here: 'The Junta de Andalucía is in favour of a tourist macro-project in Trebujena (Cádiz) next to the Doñana natural park and passes the buck to the Government. The Junta claims the availability of enough water to build a golf course, hotels and 300 luxury homes in the Guadalquivir marshes in the absence of a report from the Hydrographic Confederation (under the control of the Central Government), to which it hands over the final decision'.
'These people are crazy', says the Minister for Ecology Teresa Ribera.
Oddly, the land in question is a dry area (since grazing was introduced there in the seventies), which is nevertheless liable to flooding. The current mayor of Trebujena is against the project.
I ask Google, 'Why is Doñana important?' - 'It is notable for the great diversity of its biotopes, especially lagoons, marshlands, fixed and mobile dunes, scrub woodland and maquis. It is home to five threatened bird species. It is one of the largest heronries in the Mediterranean region and is the wintering site for more than 500,000 water fowl each year'.
As the bad weather arrives, from CadenaSer here: The drought is suffocating 80% of the Spanish countryside: 20 points more than just a month ago. According to a COAG report, the lack of rain causes irrecoverable losses in 5 million hectares of dry-land cereals, 50% more than just a month ago'. The article says '.In crops such as wheat or barley, which after the vine, are the star productions of the Spanish countryside, the harvest is considered 100% lost in regions of Andalucía, Extremadura, Castilla La Mancha, Murcia and Aragón'.
Tetrabrik: those useful boxes for fruit juice and milk. An article at OpeMed asks - how many are recycled in Spain? Officially? It's 21.4% says the Ministry of the Environment.
A piece from the BBC News here is titled 'Wooing expat voters with post-Brexit woes in Spain'. It has a (rather thin) overview of the few British councillors running in the local elections in Spain. Furthermore, it notes that 'Only 36,543 of the estimated 400,000 living in Spain are registered to vote in these local elections'. The article is masterfully bowdlerised by The Weenie here. The Olive Press says that, if 97,585 Brit expats had the vote in 2019, the number has now dropped (as, following Brexit, we must now plead for the vote) by over 61,000 (although, to be accurate, this smaller group will be far-more likely to vote than before, since they specifically asked to). The Olive Press headline calls it 'a system failure'. A quote from the Mijas councillor Bill Anderson: 'there is always a degree of apathy in the international community with regards to voting in the local elections. For example, only 8% of the foreigners registered to vote in the 2019 elections actually did so'. Which is why the local councils don't bother to take much notice of us.
A report over at El Periòdic puts the likely vote by foreigners with voting rights (EU citizens plus a modest clutch of third countries) at just 11%.
'Local elections: how they work, when results will be out, how mayors are appointed'. The process is explained at Catalan News here.
Some mayors earn more than others, says Nius Diario here, with four of them earning more than the 90,100? annual wage of President Sánchez. and then, there are around 2,500 of them working as mayor (perhaps part-time) for free.
The DGT has ordered that all drivers over 70 must have a new licence - harder to get and good for only two years. To sweeten the pill, the 'psycho-technic test' at the Tráfico-approved medical centre is free for the over-seventies!
Vodafone is considering closing down (or even selling) its Spanish subsidiary.
From Cinco Días here: Three of the four highest paid bankers in the EU are Spanish.
The city of Huelva names a street after "the British man who never was" in a tribute to major World War 2 intelligence operation. The story is at Majorca Daily Bulletin here.
From Literary Hub here 'Why the Spanish Civil War mattered to writers on distant shores'.
Four prison wardens and some inmates were arrested by the Guardia Civil for planting marijuana in the prison gardens at Valdemoro (Madrid) last week says El Español here. The arrest collapsed after the plants were identified by a botanist as artichokes!
The Government has approved cheap cinema tickets at 2? on Tuesdays for those over 65 years old. In our local cinema, by a pleasant coincidence, they have VOSE (original version with Spanish subtitles) on Tuesdays.
The annual pop festival Viña Rock now belongs to an American vulture fund. Groovy!
A new series called Juan Carlos, La Caida del Rey ('Downfall of the King') begins this weekend in Spain on SkyShowtime. It's a documentary regarding the relationship between Juan Carlos I and Corinne. A trailer on YouTube is here. Some photos at Infobae here.
A prototype of the future EBRO electric pick-up truck is seen at el Salón del Automóvil de Barcelona says Foro Coches Eléctricos here. It's a 4wd 5.21m long truck that can carry 1,000 kilos.
Having just moved back to the UK (my wife wanted to have a "bolthole") So she could be nearer to her kids (23 and 25 year old) We couldn't afford down south so up north it was, in the 3 weeks we have been here April/May, the global warming affect has seen for 1 day the dizzy height of 20deg and I actually did some gardening without my tee-shirt, but generally the temperature has been 10 degrees to low teens with rain most days. In fact yesterday was much lower and felt like winter was on its way, so I am still waiting for Climate Change?
The Carmesí Guitar Duo with Manuel de Falla's La Vida Breve on YouTube here.