After all the excitement of the elections last week, plus a late disappointment for Pedro Sánchez (and at least half the country) on Friday when a PSOE seat was switched by a count from Spaniards living abroad into a PP seat, things have quietened down somewhat with everyone in the political world away on their hols.
Here at BoT headquarters among the plastic farms outside Almería, the other string to our bow – horseback riding – is also quiet as the customers head for the beaches (they are about one kilometre away, as it happens).
The horses know nothing of holidays though, and neither do we – they still need feeding, watering, cleaning and exercising every day.
This month of August nevertheless means a few adventures. We shall be taking four horses (and medieval riders) to a small interior village called Senés for their Moors & Christians festival this weekend. Another time, a similar exeat to Velefique, and possible even one further treat further down the line for the good people of Tahal.
These small festivals tend towards a page in costume reciting great gouts of poetry in a loud voice, describing the events of the ejection of the Moors (in or around 1490) as our riders wave their swords about and look fierce. In Velefique (pop. 236), I can tell you, the story is quite blood-curdling.
Then, half-way through the month, it’s the Almería City fiestas, where we must all dress up in our finest equestrian outfits – students welcome – and ride into town (much to the indignation of the regular road-users).
There’ll be plenty of pictures on the Albero Ecuestre blog.
We think, when we buy a house, that we have made a wise investment – and usually this is true. However, the properties gathered around the Mar Menor in Murcia are said to have been devalued by 4,800 million euros thanks to the local environmental degradation. The original claim comes from Nature under the title ‘Impact of climate risk and ecological deterioration on the price of housing in the Mar Menor’ and the story is further explored at Cadena Ser here.
Valencia: ‘The regional president Carlos Mazón has announced that the Generalitat will amend the Land, Urban Planning and Landscape Planning Law (LOTUP) with the aim of streamlining and simplifying bureaucratic procedures for the construction of new homes in the Valencian Community’. La Marina Plaza has the details.
Tourism is up – 8.3 million foreign tourists visited Spain in June says Hosteltur, an increase over June last year of 11%. Better still, their spending was up by 17.5%, or 10,606 million euros (1,275€ per visitor, says the Ministry of Tourism). The Brits led the pack with almost two million tourists. Visits from the USA are growing – with 41.7% more than a year ago.
Fifty years ago, beach-land was worth little or nothing and few people went and sat on the sand with a towel, an umbrella and a freeze-box full of goodies. Now, it’s ¡todos a la playa!. From La Voz del Sur last Saturday, ‘There’s no room for anyone else on the beaches in Tarifa: the sub-delegate of the Government in Cádiz advises folk to avoid local beaches during this weekend’. Maybe try instead for a midnight swim…
I visited Mojácar on Sunday, and it was full to the rafters.
From Cadena Ser here: Andreu Escrivà, a doctor in biodiversity, provides this headline – ‘"No one will want to come": the warning from a prestigious scientist about the future of the Mediterranean coast due to global warming’. He says that the minimum temperatures are the ones to watch – as the night-time lows are rising faster than they should, and thus the surrounds are not refreshed in preparation for the arrival of the daily heat.
‘One in every five beaches in Andalucía is now smoke-free’ says The Olive Press here.
603,900 more people have found employment, now reaching a figure of 21,057,700 in work in the second quarter. The latest EPA data is record-breaking, since they place the unemployment rate at 11.6%, 1.67 points down than in the previous quarter. El Huff Post reports here. In July, another 11,000 folk found jobs. From The Corner, a similar story: ‘Spain reaches an all-time high of 21 million people in employment’.
From Europa Press here: ‘Social Security registers a surplus of 14,007 million euros until June, that’s to say: 1% of Spain’s GDP’.
Spain’s infamous public deficit, which led the Euro-zone during a period between 2016 and 2020 (where it reached 10% of GDP), has now moved towards the European average of 4.5%, beating the figures from France, Belgium and Italy says El Confidencial here. A Government release here (March 2023) gave the deficit as standing at €63,780 million.
While the PSOE are content to play the long game, the PP is hoping for a rapprochement between ‘the two partidos de estado’, the two national parties. Not what they were saying about the PSOE for the past four years, but still… Maybe if we are nice, the socialists will let ‘the party with the most votes’ govern. Say, we wouldn’t even need the support of Vox. Vox meanwhile suggests a PP/Vox government, with a few good-hearted socialists to vote with them. But hurry! Feijóo may not have much time left! More here and here.
A complication arose on Friday, after the CERA votes were counted. These are Spaniards resident abroad, and their modest contribution – only around 10% voted – was enough to give the PP an extra seat at the cost of the PSOE. The new PP deputy is an obscure politician who was forced out of the PNV in 2019. With this adjustment, the PP and PSOE (plus their associated allies) are now neck and neck. The PSOE need the support of Junts per Catalunya, whose ex-leader is Carles Puigdemont (wiki), the independence leader who has been in exile since 2017, wanted by the Spanish justice for rebellion and sedition. The likelihood at this stage would seem to be that Pedro Sánchez will tease this out for as long as possible before calling for fresh elections at Christmas. By then, he may find himself facing Isabel Díaz Ayuso…
Alberto Núñez Feijóo: ‘The Government should be formed by the most-voted party’.
The Constitution (Article 99): ‘The Government will be formed by the candidate that receives a majority support’ (here).
From El Huff Post here: ‘Sánchez is committed to "translating the social majority" of 23-J into a "parliamentary majority" for the investiture. The Presidente en funciones is convinced that he will be able to revalidate the progressive government without having to go to the polls again’.
See, so Alberto wrote Pedro a nice letter, which Pedro, nicely, answered… From El Mundo here: ‘Sánchez repudiates Feijóo's offer of dialogue: he will not meet with the PP until the King designates a candidate for the investiture (sometime after August 17th)’. The two letters are here, with Sánchez’ reply making the point that ‘Spain is a parliamentary democracy’. Some amusing Twitter remarks from the Great Unwashed are here.
This thing about being the most-voted party only apparently applies if you’re in the PP says El País (with video) here.
The PP now have 137 deputies (out of 350).
The parliamentary timetable – whether to find a working government or to call for fresh elections, is here.
If it were not for the voters of Euskadi and Catalunya, often criticized even by the Spanish left, Vox would very likely be sitting on the Council of Ministers today and Santiago Abascal would be vice president of the Government. If Catalonia and Euskadi were to be independent, the right would devastate Spain. Opinion from elDiario.es: ‘Catalonia and the Basque Country have been key to stopping the extreme right, and some folk don’t like that’.
From France24 here, ‘We're full! Europe's fight against over-tourism. European tourist hotspots like Amsterdam, Barcelona, Venice and Dubrovnik are on a crusade to check, or at least, stagger the tides of visitors that swamp their streets each summer’.
From Xataca here: ‘Portugal sets limits on tourist apartments. A problem that affects our neighbouring country in a special way, with a rate even higher than that of Spain. Now these apartments focused on tourists will have to comply with a series of obligations, as well as request special permits to open. A series of measures that aim to limit their number and prevent this type of apartment from eclipsing the homes of citizens…’ (One always wonders about the influence of the hotel lobby in this type of legislation).
A faintly embarrassing video on YouTube takes us to a Brit family living in Spain who now regret that they voted for Brexit.
From The Guardian: ‘The far right don’t need to win elections to spread their malign ideas. Even when they don’t succeed, as in Spain, their extremist tropes are mainstream fare’.
El Plural finds that some summer businesses are pulling a fast one on Hacienda: ‘The damaged data-phone – the scam by the beach bars this summer to avoid paying taxes. Dozens of establishments only allow payment in cash to ease their reported figures’.
‘Hitmen, organized crime and the successful police team solving cases on Spain’s Costa del Sol. A special unit created in 2019 to investigate drug wars in towns along the country’s southern coast — particularly Marbella — has so far arrested fifty people and solved eighteen cases’. Item from El País in English here.
The Valencian politician and ex-minister for Labour Eduardo Zaplana (wiki) was released from his preventative incarceration (for money laundering) following the diagnosis of a terminal illness with leukaemia back in February 2019 after serving eight and a half months – now some 1,700 days ago. Happily, he appears to still be going strong.
From Newtral here: ‘thousands of pine trees are suddenly drying out from last summer's heat, with the effects of the 2022 heat waves a year later, triggering sudden tree deaths’.
From 20Minutos here: ‘July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth’. And if that wasn’t enough, from Sur in English here: ‘Mediterranean sets new sea temperature record after registering 28.7C in July. Rising sea temperatures threaten marine wildlife and could cause more storm activity in autumn, experts in Spain have warned’.
From ABC here: ‘In Andalucía, the PP voted by mistake in favour of a climate change denialism rule (‘in defence of the rural economy’) from Vox. The conservatives have apologized and have reiterated their "unequivocal commitment" in the fight against global warming’.
From La Política Online here: ‘"The River Genal (Wiki) is dead": a river in Málaga has dried up completely due to its overexploitation to irrigate avocados (with video).
Urban free-for-all in the Mar Menor says elDiario.es here: ‘PP and Vox have refused to extend a moratorium that prevented new construction around the stricken lagoon. Without this legal limit, the processing of new projects will now depend on each city council’.
After three years in exile, Juan Carlos I is doing quite comfortably in his lair on the private island resort of Nurai in Abu Dhabi says Infobae here.
An interesting question is posed by The Leader here: ‘Who Actually Benefits from the Torrevieja Summer Fiestas?’
Valencian (‘Catalán’) will no longer be obligatory as a second language for the school system in the ‘Spanish-speaking’ parts of the Valencian Community, and will not be required for 25% of classes thanks to the new regional government says Ara here. In the Balearics, the PP and Vox are working to reduce the use of Catalán in local administrations.
Earlier efforts to curb the betting shops in Spain by the IU minister Alberto García are being reversed in the PP/Vox region of Castilla y León where, as El Plural reports, ‘36 new betting saloons (‘salas de juego’) have been granted licences in Valladolid and Salamanca’.
Extremadura drops their department of equality in favour of la caza (hunting) and los toros – both to be run by Vox councillors. El Confidencial has the story.
From Al Jazeera here: ‘Spain grants nationality to self-exiled Iran chess player Sara Khadem. The 26-year-old fled to Spain with her family after competing in a tournament without wearing a mandatory veil’.
From Tiempo here: ‘The Tribute of the Three Cows (Wiki) obliges France to deliver three of these creatures to Spain every year on July 13th. It is the oldest treaty in Europe and continues to be fulfilled every year on the border between the two countries in a corner of the Pyrenees’. Little by little over the centuries, says the article, Spain has built up quite a herd of les vaches qui rient. (With video).
Adslzone wants you to check in before you change your telephone operator, as one of the ‘big four’ (Vodaphone) is decidedly less popular with clients than the others.
‘Turning Spain's desert into Europe's orchard. In southern Spain, one of the driest parts of Europe, a healthy crop of high-tech greenhouses has sprouted from the desert. Innovative approaches to agriculture – from organic farming and using desalinated seawater, to breeding pollinators and predators of insect pests – have turned this arid land into a source of abundance’. A short video from CBS here.
Those old civil war posters are always worth a look: ‘Propaganda Posters from the Spanish Civil War, a ‘War on Paper’ tells the story of an epic struggle to win the hearts and minds of all who could fight’. From The Collector. The same site also brings us ‘Nine Works of Art from the Spanish Civil War’, here.
From Guías Viajar here: Besalú in Girona – what to see in this pretty medieval village. They even have a circus museum there. With video.
An old Basque song - Txoria Txori – here with Les Voix Basques and Anne Etchegoyen, and here a simple version with Mikel Laboa. Both on YouTube. ‘Thousands of people sang Txoria Txori (AKA Hegoak, it’s a freedom song about birds) during the Bayonne fiestas last week’ says Público here. It’s also the anthem for two football teams: Real Sociedad (San Sebastian) and el Athletic Club (Bilbao).