It’s not clear if we have learned anything from the postal-vote scandal made nationally famous by Mojácar and Melilla, but which also occurred in several other municipalities.
Apparently, one needs one’s ID card to ask for a postal vote – they’ll give you an envelope and the papeletas from all the different parties. However, when you post your vote with your one chosen papeleta, you don’t need to show any documents, and of course, a friend could post it for you following the modest consideration of a 100€ (or perhaps a little more).
Now maybe in local elections, it’s about the personal advantage; whereas, in the general elections, things are different. Yes, we cynics might want Señor X to win, but we aren’t going to go around buying millions of votes off impoverished or immoral people we may have picked up in a bar.
Not when it’s cheaper to use our friends in the media: Giménez Losantos, Ana Rosa, La Razón, OKDiario, Canal Sur, El Mundo, Alvise Pérez, El Hormiguero and a host of others who are all working hard on helping the citizens decide between right or, uh, wrong.
Like the slogan ‘Comunísmo o libertad’ (Ayuso)
Or maybe ‘Sánchez o España’ (Vox)
Voting in the middle of the summer causes problems – everyone is on their hols; except, and sorry for them, those who have to be present across Spain to manage the polling stations. They’ll be disappointed. For everyone else who might be away, we return to the always trusty postal vote.
Thus, we read that Correos is hiring an extra 5,500 sorters this summer to handle the extra work caused by the sudden election.
As for the dodgy votes scandal – well, they’re asking for fresh elections in Mojácar.
Not that this is at all likely.
Maybe, if they do, then I’ll stand this time.
See, I have a cunning plan.
Mark Stücklin writes at Spanish Property Insight of the rent-controls put in place by Franco. He begins: ‘Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco crushed the rental market with price-controls, but also presided over the building of lots of affordable housing, which helps explain why the owner-occupier rate in Spain is still above the OECD average.
Franco is portrayed as a ‘right-wing’ dictator but he doesn’t easily fit the mould. In some respects he was left-wing, especially when it came to housing policy. He didn’t just control rents, he froze them, to benefit the ‘people’ at the expense of landlords…’
From The Guardian here: ‘A housing revolution is taking place in Spain. On 26 May, a monumental new housing law came into force. It was the culmination of years of work and sought to enshrine housing as a human right. But now that vision is in danger. Two days after the law passed, right-wing parties won seats in local and regional elections. Last week Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, called a snap election. On 23 July, when Spain goes to the polls, the fate of this law will hang in the balance…’
The realtors can no longer charge the prospective tenant for a month’s rent as a finder’s fee thanks to the new Ley de la Vivienda – but then… "The real estate agency makes me sign a paper to say that the owner has paid their expenses, but I paid them". From EPE here.
RTVE pushes the boat out on a series here called ‘Dead Cement’, the uncontrolled and ugly architecture of ruin. ‘They are in our cities, towns, natural landscapes. Spain is riddled with modern ruins that, unlike the ancient ones —useful for long periods of time— are unnecessary samples of failed projects’.
From elDiario.es here. ‘Among the country's megalomaniac projects, the one that Grupo Rayet wants to carry out in Alovera (Guadalajara) – a resort with a Caribbean beach (300kms from the sea) – is up there with the best of them. But some questions are now being asked that cast a shadow over the initiative and add to the criticism coming from the environmentalists’. The project webpage is here.
Así Va España (a parody site) finds an advert for a fourth-floor walk-up apartment in Madrid, cleverly marketed as ‘un piso cardiosaludable’ – an apartment that’s good for the heart. Tell that to your wife.
‘Victory for those over 65’ says El Debate here. ‘The DGT will not be changing the early renewal of driving licenses’. This because the early elections have knocked down the plans by Tráfico to introduce extra tests and shorter periods between renewal for the elderly. The driving licence for the over 65s remains current for five years.
Residencias públicas for the poor, and Senior Living for the wealthy. From elDiario.es here: ‘The real-estate sector is committed to housing with care services, leisure and gastronomy for the elderly with high incomes that can mean monthly expenses of more than 5,000€’.
‘Spain created 200,411 jobs in May thanks to the hospitality industry while unemployment marks a new minimum not seen since 2008’ says 20Minutos here.
From El Economista here: ‘Spain will grow more than the US, Germany or France in the coming years, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The economy will grow by 2.1% in 2023, more than double that of the Eurozone’. España: from ugly duckling to a swan, enthuses the article.
‘Feijóo promises to eliminate the Wealth and Inheritance taxes, while asking for more money for the regions’ says elDiario.es here. One can probably see the problem here…
General Elections July 23rd.
The sudden General Election is said to be ‘Sánchez last throw of the dice’ as the PP (probably together with Vox) looks set to win. El Huff Post has a couple of surveys here. If Sumar manages to coalesce, then the panorama becomes a bit more hopeful for the Spanish left. There are around fifteen different parties that need to join together (all of them wanting prominence). They only have until Friday. The Izquierda Unida leader Alberto Garzón says he will retire from active politics but will support Yolanda Díaz, the Sumar (now called Movimiento Sumar) candidate.
‘Mysteriously, Feijóo is aghast. “Not twelve hours after discovering the results of the elections, Sánchez has called for more elections”, he says. I say mysteriously, because La Derecha has been calling for a general election daily for the past four years’. As usual, comic Miguel Charisteas hits the nail on the head on his vlog at YouTube here. The plan, according to the PP, is to have the elections in the middle of the holidays, so no one will be going to vote (except, one supposes, the poor people who can’t afford a cruise in the Caribbean). 20Minutos reports here.
On Monday, Sánchez says he’ll debate Feijóo on a weekly basis on (six) different TV channels until the elections. ‘In seven weeks’, says Sánchez, ‘there’ll be plenty of time for citizens to form an opinion on what each has to offer’. A quick answer was forthcoming: ‘Thanks but no thanks’, said the PP campaign spokesperson Borja Sémper, adding ‘we are not going to climb into the mud for some fruitless squabbling’. ECD says that Feijóo will only accept two televised debates ‘to avoid putting his victory at risk’. Feijóo is known for his lapses and on-air mistakes.
From The Guardian here: ‘Will ‘safe pair of hands’ Feijóo deal with far-right Vox and take power in Spain? Alberto Núñez Feijóo’s inner circle believes he can appeal to centre-right voters and win snap general election’. From 20Minutos here: ‘Feijóo pressures Vox to "facilitate" the PP regional governments and town halls and he advises the PSOE to choose another candidate for the General Elections. From ECD here, ‘Feijóo prohibits his regional presidents from fighting with Vox over abortion and the parental pin (parental approval for certain school material)’ – at least, says the article, until after the elections.
From El Mundo here (cattily): ‘Pedro is more Sánchez than ever: "Everything about him is excessive: his tenacity, his audacity and his ambition".
And Podemos? The time seems to have run out for this party as events unfold. The Minister of the Economy Nadia Calviño says the recent elections are the end of both Podemos and Ciudadanos. El Huff Post has the story here.
From The Times here – or here (thanks John): ‘Spanish politics is about to get lively. Its next king-maker may well be an ultraconservative ideologue who sounds nostalgic for General Francisco Franco, the fascist dictator, and wants to get Gibraltar back from the British. Santiago Abascal, 47, head of the far-right Vox party, prides himself on owning a Smith & Wesson revolver. He likes to engage in eccentric publicity stunts on horseback and has called for an end to the “Muslim occupation” of Spain…’
EH Bildu (which did well in the municipal elections in Navarra and the Basque Country) says that they won’t field any ex-ETA soldiers as candidates for the General Elections. ECD has the story here.
Macarena Olona – the eccentric ex-Voxxer and now candidate for Caminando Juntos – has raised the red flag with her proposal that Spain should have a referendum on monarchy or república. She appeared on the TV with her party proposals and has, understandably, caught the attention of everyone… LaSexta has the story (and video) here.
According to El Español here, ‘A far-right network links Vox with Putin's Russian oligarchs through HazteOir and CitizenGo. Politicians and businessmen close to the Kremlin promoted Vox in Spain to promote an agenda against LGTBI rights, gender violence and abortion’. The conservative news-site reports in a lengthy and interesting investigation that Vox was largely launched and financed from Russia to help destabilise Spain (with similar stunts in other Western European countries).
In Brussels, the PP and Vox have both voted against a law promoted by the European Commission to fight against labour exploitation, including child labour. The conservative Europeans have been divided in the European Parliament in voting on the Due Diligence Directive and the Spanish delegation has been one of those that has rejected it. The right fears that this type of legislation will impede business development and competitiveness…’ says elDiario.es here.
A story last week from El Confidencial said that the leaders of PRISA (El País and Cadena Ser) had discussions with the Partido Popular – just before the elections. El Huff Post says that this is purposeful malinformacíon, as the meeting actually occurred in April 2022.
Misleading titles – where the media fails to report the good news for reasons best known to itself. El Nacional (Catalonia) opinion here: ‘Employment is growing strongly to 20.8 million Spaniards and unemployment is at the lowest level since 2008, El País points out.
The number of unemployed falls to levels of May 2008, before the outbreak of the recession, recalls Ara. Catalonia creates twice as many jobs as Madrid and the number of Catalans in work exceeds 3.71 million people for the first time, with the hotel industry as the engine of the labour market, according to El Periódico. All very good news... but it’s only found on those three front-pages.
A pity. The rest of the pack don't even mention it, perhaps because they think it benefits the current Spanish government. It's a bit surreal, as if politics were on one side and life on the other, without ever touching…’
Los Señuelos – The Decoys. An article on how to divert our attention away to something less damaging. First comes the distraction, then the hook, then the anger… For example – the postal fraud in Mojácar, followed by ‘doesn’t Pedro Sánchez have an apartment in Mojácar?’ And that’s what we come away with after four years of the current legislature.
In similar vein, Gerardo Tece at cxtx here: ‘…It is also absurd to refute the solid arguments chosen à la carte by remembering that ETA does not exist, that rapists are released –or not– by the judges or that squatting is not a real problem in Spain no matter how much money Securitas Direct throws around. When what matters is mere entertainment, then reality and politics are superfluous. And thus, we must talk about the TV chat shows…’
Canal Sur managed some 21 minutes of coverage regarding the PSOE vote-scandal in Mojácar… until things took a turn and the PP was also implicated. The follow-up report was just 43 seconds says the Consejo Profesional de la Radiotelevisión de Andalucía, noting that the channel ‘is an electoral tool of the Andalusian Government in the current election campaign’. The story is at Diario16 here.
‘Fuera’ - a pop song with a message from the Vox-supporting Los Meconios. It’s doing well on WhatsApp and elsewhere, but the song is pure vitriol: "Get out, get out of my homeland / you have betrayed us / Not one more second in your chair / You are capable of anything…". Poor Pedro Sánchez.
"If I were Pedro Sánchez...”: ‘the viral message circulating on WhatsApp that’s more stirring than an electoral program’ says La Cadena Ser. "It is not necessary for Feijóo to request the repeal of 'sanchismo', I repeal it," the message indicates. While tongue in cheek and obviously fake, it makes a telling point. The people are right, says the fictitious Sánchez, so I will remove all my efforts and leave Spain as it was. The minimum wage back to 600€; the labour reforms and the ley de la vivienda – no more! – If people can pay their rent, then good for them; if not, well out they go. And so on, for a long list. Oh, and whatever you do, don’t get sick…
Over at the strawberry plantations in Doñana… From EuroNews here: ‘Spanish strawberry growers deny using illegal irrigation as German campaigners call for boycott’. ‘There are 100,000 jobs at risk’ says El Español here. The German supermarkets Aldi and Lidl both continue – says El Mundo – to market them in their Spanish stores. From elDiario.es here, ‘The Bundestag commission were meeting this week with the Government of Spain and the Junta de Andalucía…’, however, said Reuters later, ‘…the cross-party German parliamentary environment committee arrived in Madrid to meet the ministry officials on Monday. They were then due to travel south to Andalucía to meet farming groups, environmental activists and local officials. But by mid-morning on Monday, it announced the visit would be cancelled "in view of the high political significance that the topics of the trip have gained in recent days in the upcoming Spanish national elections". After all, one shouldn’t mix politics with, er, politics. Maldita says that the proposed boycott comes from a German consumer organisation called Campact, which has so far been unable to persuade the main supermarket chains to drop the Huelva strawberries, but so far without success. Mind you – as El Debate will tell you, anyone who is against the illegal wells in Doñana is part of the international socialist ‘anti-strawberry lobby’ – confound them!
From The Economist here: ‘The world could soon breach its 1.5°C target for global warming. In 2015, in Paris, the nations of the world committed themselves to trying their best to prevent the planet warming by more than 1.5°C from its pre-industrial state. Even at the time, the goal looked ambitious. In recent years, it has come to seem almost impossible’.
Ana Rosa Quintana on TeleCinco was asking Alberto Núñez Feijóo if he spoke English. Feijóo confessed that he doesn’t: "I shall have to start studying it. I had a teacher ready since Monday and...". He says he is bilingual however, since he speaks Gallego. ‘“The important things at the International Summits are done with a translator and they know perfectly well what I want to say. I won’t be going to have any problem explaining myself in the second language of the world”, clarified the PP candidate for the general elections…’ With video.
One of the new intake to the town halls is the Spanish founder of El Yunque, who joins the ayuntamiento of Barcelona. El País here, and a video here.
One can now obtain a Certifico Digital from one’s home computer, saving the major bother of having to register in person at the Delegación Provincial (central government provincial office). The process is at Xataca here.
From The New York Times here: ‘Flamenco and Fervour: Inside Spain’s El Rocío Pilgrimage’. ‘The Canary Islands: The first stop of Imperialism. Before the New World, Europeans arrived in the Canary Islands and set the model for the enslavements, genocides, and radical ecological transformations to come’. From JSTOR Daily here. It begins: ‘Before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, the basic model of European attack on new worlds was prototyped in the Canary Islands. Enslavement of the local population, genocide, and radical transformation of the environment in the name of extractive exploitation followed the violent colonization of the islands…’
A fascinating article about Englishman Peter Kemp, who fought the Spanish Civil War on the Nationalist side. He wrote a book Mine Were of Trouble and you can read about his experience in a fascinating if slightly bizarre article at The Chorizo Chronicles here.
They seem very pleased by this, so here goes: ‘Spain's best "all inclusive" hotel is in Fuerteventura, in the Canary Islands’ says The Guide to The Canary Islands here. The hotel with the favoured plaudit is the Iberostar Playa Gaviotas Park.
Castellar de la Frontera is something to see – it’s a small town within a medieval fortress located in the Parque Natural de Los Alcornocales, Cádiz. The story is that there are two pueblos – la vieja as above… and then la nueva. Visit Andalucía has the story here. elDiario.es has some good pictures here.
Con Alforjas has a complete list here of all of Spain’s natural monuments.
From Vicisitudes y Sordidez here, a question – which is the most español of all the different types of music? Huh? Huh? El Flamenco, El Pasodoble, La Zarzuela, El Rock Español? No – the answer is of course La Rumba. OK, it comes from Cuba but it immigrated to Spain where it was picked up by Catalonian gypsies. There’s nobody who won’t fall for a good rumba. The article brings us some of the best. Here’s Pepe da Rosa (silly, but we always had a soft spot for him) in the el Cid Campeador movie, but you may prefer the Gypsy Kings with Hotel California here or – Oh my God! – the same song (with Jesús) from The Big Lebowski! We’re going with Ladilla Rusa here, but what’s your favourite? By the way, just asking, but where’s Peret?