Well, that was interesting. It got a bit closer to me than expected, since Mojácar made the headlines in every news-site in Spain. But then, we always have been a bit of an exaggeration, ever since Walt Disney was born here.
Or so they say, on no evidence whatsoever.
Anyway, two fellows high on the local list of the PSOE (nº2 and nº5) were arrested four days before the local elections for allegedly buying votes from impoverished foreign residents with a postal-vote. The PP in Mojácar are said to have done the same thing in previous elections, so apparently, it’s not considered much of a crime there.
All this of course should have contributed to the local socialists losing the election in that town of so many lucrative opportunities, although it turned out that the results with the PP taking 8 seats and the PSOE with 5 were exactly the same as four years ago.
Nevertheless, our practically levantine corruption, which again, made all the media, probably didn’t help the socialist cause elsewhere in Spain, with the PP winning several regions and major capital cities. Indeed, the PP-A say in Seville that they will leave no stone unturned to discover the truth about Mojácar ‘and will act firmly if any party-colleague is found guilty’ (a claim I think, that they may come to regret).
I live in Almería City these days, so I voted there. The advantage for me was that I neither knew any of the candidates, nor (for once) had any dirt on them.
From 20Minutos on Saturday here: ‘Homes, okupas, Bildu, vote buying… the campaign for the local and regional elections’. Nothing, in short, of great substance. But it was enough.
From Ignacio Escolar here: ‘Since the economy is doing much better than expected, the right had sought other arguments to make a dent in the vote. The first week of the campaign was all about ETA. The second has been monopolized by complaints about the purchase of votes by mail…’
For us foreign residents with the vote, let us hope that the new town hall takes some small notice of us: maybe someone who speaks a second language in the medical centre or over at urbanismo. Perhaps have the mayor drop by the foreign-run bar for a milk-shake. Perhaps have the local police chief call a meeting to tell us that all is fine. Maybe pay someone to translate the edicts (bandos) from the town hall. Maybe they already do. Maybe they don’t.
One question remains about buying votes – and this with my tongue in my cheek – didn’t they ply us with chocolates in Mojácar back in December to go vote for Ferrero Rocher?
Spanish Property Insight has here the new rules regarding the Housing Law, now in force – copied from La Moncloa government site in English here. Site manager Mark Stücklin is not a fan: ‘The law was rammed through parliament with support from parties on the left and radical left of Spanish politics, and opposed by all other parties. Unsurprisingly, the legislation is full of new regulations, restrictions and costs whilst taking a dim view of private property rights’. The abrupt call for a General Election (see Politics below), however, may throw a spanner in the works as the minutiae of the Ley de Vivienda are down to the regional governments, although the rules regarding estate agents (what fees one can expect to pay them) are now signed into law.
‘Investment funds ask Feijóo for a counter-reform over rental contracts in Spain’ says VozPópuli here (they mean Vulture Funds). ‘Real estate investors are beginning to assume that there will be a change of government after the General Elections and are calling on the conservative candidate to return the rental laws to those from Mariano Rajoy's legislation’.
A court has paralyzed Golf Sant Gregori – one of the largest urban plans in Spain on the coast with 6,000 homes in Borriana (Castellón province). Following an appeal by several of the landowners, the first section of the contentious-administrative chamber of the Superior Court of Justice of the Valencian Community (TSJCV) has revoked the plenary agreement that allowed the reactivation of this macro-project’. elDiario.es delivers here.
The Spanish Supreme Court has rejected a plea by the regional government of Extremadura to save the luxury island development Isla de Valdecañas (Cáceres province) from demolition. Spanish Property Insight (from an article dated Feb 2022) has the background.
‘Inflation falls sharply in May: the Consumer Price Index (IPC) drops to 3.2%, the lowest in almost two years’ says El Economista here.
From Idealista here (in English): ‘Spain, the eighth highest minimum wage in Europe. In Spain it has risen by 65% between 2016 and 2022, to €1,167 in 12 payments. It occupies ninth place in the ranking, behind the USA’.
‘Spanish banks saved themselves 3,250 million euros in 2022 by not paying any interest on deposit accounts, according to the Bank of Spain’. El Español has the story here.
‘Spain’s new start-up law is exciting’, says Alistair Johnson writing at The Olive Press here, ‘so who can benefit?’ The article begins: ‘The Startup Law (Ley de Fomento del Ecosistema de Empresas Emergentes) took effect on January 1st and aims to boost entrepreneurship and innovation in Spain…’. The article looks at how the new rules can offer opportunities to foreigners seeking to move to Spain with useful information on both The Startup / Entrepreneur Visa and the Digital Nomad / Remote Work Visa.
General elections July 23:
The PP did very well in the Sunday elections, taking control of various regions and large cities from their rivals. Seville is now PP, as is Logroño, Valladolid, Segovia, Huesca, Zaragoza, Teruel, Castellón, Palma, Huelva, Sevilla, Granada, Albacete, Ciudad Real, Cáceres, Badajoz, Cádiz and Valencia (in many cases, with an uncomfortable alliance with Vox). A rout, in short. Regions that fell to the PP are the Valencian Community, Aragón and the Balearics (more). In short, the voters appear to have moved towards the two-party system of us and them (so much easier for all than us, them, them, them and them). With the PP taking 31.5% of the municipal vote against the PSOE with 28.1 and Vox with 7.2%. (Numbers at Newtral here). Unapologetically from The Corner here: ‘Sánchez sinks the PSOE and Spain turns to the PP’.
Podemos did spectacularly badly, and one wonders, says El País, about the future of Sumar.
Vox lost around half of its votes from 2019 says Al Descubierto (although it will form junior-alliances in several PP governments and town halls).
Ciudadanos meanwhile appears to have disappeared entirely from the political scene.
*The main news – and fallout from above – is that Pedro Sánchez has called for snap elections for this July 23rd rather than waiting until December. The difficulty will be for Sumar, which had planned its rise to prominence for the later date. Perhaps if Sánchez can shake off the left, while the PP is stuck with the baleful presence of Vox, then maybe the next government will be a socialist one. However, it seems doubtful from here, the beginning of June. From The Guardian here: ‘…Sánchez said that while Sunday’s votes had been municipal and regional, they had “transmitted a message” that transcended local considerations and demanded a democratic response’. And for those Spaniards on holiday (we foreigners can’t vote in this one)? Well, there’s always a postal vote…
With the call for the General Election, Parliamentary business is on hold from Monday with the dissolution of both the Cortes and the Senado. Thus, some of the laws going through have been frozen, either until after a new PSOE government, or forever, with the arrival of a PP one. La Razón has the details here.
It’s an ‘all or nothing’ plan from Pedro Sánchez, says elDiario.es here, but no one is looking back on Sunday’s results – but rather forward to the next contest. From 20Minutos here, we see that Pedro Sánchez hopes to switch socialist gloom into energising for the contest to come (as well as stopping any chance from within the party of looking at a replacement leader). From La Vanguardia here: The PP candidate Alberto Nuñez Feijóo says in his call for support: ‘It’s Sánchez or its Spain, and the majority will be choosing Spain’. (‘Sánchez compares the right to Trump and says: Spain is better than the PP and Vox’ here).
A victorious Alberto Núñez Feijóo is suddenly cautious after the shock announcement of early national elections, and is now considering holding off on any regional pacts with Vox until after July 23rd says ECD.
Podemos and Sumar – Ione Belarra (and her mentor Pablo Iglesias) together with Yolanda Díaz, have just a week to come to an agreement on a united front to face the elections (coalitions need to be registered in the days to come). There’s no time for primaries or drawn-out discussions and tinkering. Izquierda Unida said on Tuesday that it will run under the Sumar ticket for the elections. The Equo Greens say they will also be with Sumar, from now on to be called Movimiento Sumar.
ECD claims that the early call for elections by Pedro Sánchez was to stop a party revolt led by Felipe Gonzalez and a couple of party ‘barones’.
In the Valencian Community, the new president will be the PP’s Carlos Mazón. We learn from elDiario.es that ‘The future president of the Generalitat Valenciana presents himself as a simple guy: married with two children, plays sports regularly, sings, likes football, buys in the municipal market with his mother, eats paella on Sundays, participates in traditions of his city…’ Here he is in the Eurovision 1981 with his group Marengo performing Y sólo tú. The PP will however need to pact with Vox to govern (as indeed, they will in Aragón, the Baleares, Cantabria, Extremadura and Murcia). The investiture should (in theory) be in mid-July. The price from Vox in Valencia (13 deputies) appears to be tightening up the school syllabus. In the Balearics, Vox insists on closing down the region’s TV channel.
Ciudadanos say they won’t contest in the General Elections, hoping instead to regroup for the European ones…
Macarena Olona (ex Vox candidate for the Junta de Andalucía), has registered a new party to fight the elections next month: Caminando Juntos.
From Onda Cero here: ‘Pedro Sánchez received the former US Secretary of State and former presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, at La Moncloa this Tuesday. "Spain is not going to allow the reactionaries' threat to democracy" he told reporters after the meeting.
Catalan News reports that, while ‘Socialists win most votes in local elections across Catalonia’ (here), ‘The centre-right (pro-independence) former mayor Xavier Trias takes the city of Barcelona in a tight three-horse race. Trias per Barcelona won 11 seats, the Socialists took 10 and Ada Colau's Barcelona En Comú has 9’ (here).
From GBC News (with video) here: ‘Brexit has cost the Gibraltar Health Authority nearly £600,000 in ambulance transfers in the last two years alone. This is because GHA staff do not have work permits to drive ambulances in Spain unless it's an emergency...’
The elections will take place just three weeks after Spain takes over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union. ‘…There’s no sugar-coating this, the rotating EU presidency — which Spain takes over from Sweden in July — was an afterthought in Sánchez’s decision. “Logistically and politically, having a national election just at the beginning of a presidency is a recipe for chaos,” said a senior diplomat from another EU country…’. Analysis from Politico (now removed and updated here).
Opinion from The Guardian here: ‘Across Europe, the far right is rising. That it seems normal is all the more terrifying’.
From Free Movement here: ‘New Nationality Bill introduced to protect British citizenship of children of EU citizens. The government have introduced a new bill confirming people’s British citizenship rights to confirm how British nationality law is applied to people born in the UK to parents who are EU citizens between 1 January 1983 and 1 October 2000’.
From El Mundo here: ‘63% of Britons believe that Brexit "has created more problems than it has solved". A new poll by The Observer reveals a change in attitude among even the most anti-European almost seven years after the referendum’.
The story was that two of the PSOE-Mojácar candidates were arrested for buying votes through the postal-vote system just a couple of days before the elections. As were another seven (apparent) party-sympathisers. They were all released on the Friday having exercised their right to not declare before the judge. The system here is that once the party list is published, it can’t be changed until after the election – with only death or voluntary departure from the column being accepted later. Thus, it would seem to be that the two PSOE candidates (numbers 2 and 5 on the PSOE list, you need seven for a majority in Mojácar) would end up in the town hall if the votes warranted it, even if they were then fired from the party. Unless they agreed to withdraw, they would become independents, or ‘grupo mixto’ and, well, who knows who they would support once in the town hall – the PSOE who chucked them out, or maybe a nice position within the PP government? Maldita says that the Nº2, the son of a previous PSOE mayor, was after the job of urbanísmo.
As it turned out, they weren’t needed – the PP won with a majority vote.
Now, the media says that the (PP) mayoress of Mojácar knew about the vote-buying as far back as April 14 when she denounced it to the Guardia Civil.
There would have been plenty of time to rearrange the list with the removal of the two candidates. But, wisely, if not entirely ethically, the story was kept very quiet.
The postal vote, by the way, was exactly 701 papeletas, or 25% of the entire vote (or the equivalent of three councillors).
Then word came from the courthouse that another arrest had been made, this time someone buying votes for the Mojácar PP.
So now what happens?
Mojácar has had three votes of confidence during the years since Franco died, with three switches of government mid-legislation. There would be plenty of reasons why one would wish to be a councillor in the ruling party. Indeed, the General Plan (PGOU) has just been approved by the Junta de Andalucía, which includes a licence to build a further 2,685 dwellings in the municipality.
By Wednesday evening… as far as could be seen (and apart from an updated profile picture of the local PSOE leader on Facebook)… absolutely nothing had happened in Mojácar, with no one from either party having anything to say regarding the scandal.
(imagine Donald Trump heard about this!).
How far did the media-blitz help the PP win so convincingly? One can only talk about ETA (wiki) – EHBildu is the political descendent – for so long… One of the leading right-wing talking heads is the Berlusconi-owned Telecinco breakfast star Ana Rosa Quintana, who is/was due to move her show to the afternoons in September to help viewers make the right choice in the December elections. Now the vote has been brought forward to July 23rd, one awaits Telecinco’s reaction (El Huff Post here).
Ana Rosa has also been in the news for her continuous attack against the squatters, and one is saddened to read that she owns 44 high-end tourist apartments shared between Seville and Madrid.
Thus comes the joke… ‘I’m frightened to go out to buy some bread and find that Ana Rosa has rented my place out to some tourists…’
‘The principal owner of El País and La Ser has met with Feijóo to build bridges with the right. Joseph Oughourlian, owner of 29.9% of the media group, has held meetings with the main leaders of the Popular Party, from Moreno Bonilla to Bendodo and the Galician leader’, says El Confidencial here.
A story put out by El Confidencial that Pablo Iglesias is promoting a united left-wing front to include the PSOE is doing the rounds, although Iglesias himself says that he would never countenance such a thing.
More wet weather says El Huff Post here: ‘The State Meteorological Agency AEMET announces that the rainfall for next week is confirmed. Spain will be presided over by an "unstable atmosphere with widespread showers". But it is not an exclusive question of just the next days. The agency adds that the trend for the rest of June is similar, so it is estimated that the coming weeks will bring an "important positive contribution" to the rainfall deficit of recent months and years...’
‘The Andalusian president Moreno Bonilla's plan to regularize illegal crops in Doñana increased the votes for the PP in the affected municipalities’ says Público here. ‘The inhabitants of the areas most affected by the overexploitation of the aquifer that feeds the Doñana National Park increased their support for the PP in the May 28th elections following the plan of the Junta de Andalucía to legalize this illegal irrigation’.
Sur in English brings us ‘Worrying Nasa satellite image shows how drought is leaving its mark on Andalucía. The Terra satellite capture was compared to images taken in May last year, which depicted the region as much more green and lush’.
From The Portland Press Herald here: ‘Killer whales damage boats in puzzling new behaviour. A pod rammed a yacht in the Strait of Gibraltar this week, the 24th such incident registered this year by Spain's Maritime Rescue service’. From Aristegui Noticias: Meet Gladis, the killer whale who is teaching others to attack the yachts in the Straits of Gibraltar.
From El Plural here: ‘Ultra-Catholic foundations propose to withdraw the right to vote from the unemployed. Jaime Mayor Oreja (PP Minister of the Interior 1996 - 2000) and María San Gil (PP politician) were both present at the fundamentalist talk’. The argument being that the unemployed will tend to support the left, therefore the left wants to see more unemployed people!
‘They’ve put fifteen Bulgarians on the padrón – all apparently living with me in my house’, says a surprised (and indignant) home-owner in Heras de Ayuso (Guadalajara). Even so, says El Confidencial, it gets worse…
Francisco (‘call me Paco’) Franco is the new mayor of Encinarejo in Córdoba. Yes (inevitably), he’s from Vox. 20Minutos has the story here.
What happens if a mathematical unlikelihood arrives – and each party gets the same number of votes? Why, they throw a coin. San Mateo de Gállego in Zaragoza has 807 votes for the PSOE, and the same number for the PP. Over in Valle del Zalabí (Granada), the two parties have 646 votes each. El Huff Post has the story here.
From El Huff Post here: ‘The secrets of the melon: it is not a fruit, and there are males and females. We are in the middle of the season for this 'fruit', perfect for relieving the heat and including in a healthy diet’. It really comes from the legumes, and is related to the cucumber. Who knew?
From Idealista here: ‘What is the most beautiful town in Northern Spain? We're putting Northern Spain on the map with our selection of the best towns and villages to visit’. Here are the top five: Liérganes, Lastres, Laguardia, Mondoñedo and Bárcena Mayor.
Celia Cruz with Jarabe de Palo in the eccentric 2012 song A lo Loco (featured in the movie El Milagro de P. Tinto) on YouTube here.