The first hurdle was to choose the Presidente del Congreso de los Diputados (Speaker of the House) with a third dark-horse candidate, Ignacio Gil Lázaro from Vox, helping the vote towards the PSOE-backed candidate Francina Armengol (ex-president of the Balearic Islands) to the angry detriment of the PP’s own Cuca Gamarra.
The PP’s strategy was in tatters, after Vox had surprised them at the last moment with their particular candidate in retaliation for a slight from Feijóo. Indeed, the PSOE candidate would have won anyway, by a short head, with the backing of the rest of the House, including Junts. The choice remained the same: progressive or regressive.
Or fresh elections.
Since the probable PP candidature of Isabel Díaz Ayuso would be popular with the electorate (although she is closer to Vox than Feijóo ever was), a supposed election might not be the best thing at this juncture – as the date for one – if it were to come to this – has now been fixed for Sunday, January 14th 2024.
The King duly met with party leaders on Monday and Tuesday – starting with the smaller groups – to try and find a presidential candidate he could propose for a parliamentary debate.
Tricky, since the two sides are running neck and neck.
On Tuesday night, following the consultations, Felipe VI proposed a parliamentary investiture session with Alberto Núñez Feijóo as the candidate (he has the support of Vox, Coalición Canaria and UPN to bring him 172 deputies. Just four short of the 176 needed as a majority). The debate will take place in late September. If Feijóo fails to win a majority, then the King will propose that Pedro Sánchez makes the attempt.
Another piece on the obligation to live in a tent or a caravan – or even a cave – thanks to the high cost of apartment rents, this time in Menorca. elDiario.es speaks with a nurse, born on the island, and now living in a van. Even sharing an apartment is too expensive, she says, adding – ‘it’s not a home, it’s a life-raft’.
From SVI here: ‘Spain Plans to Be Ready for Entry/Exit System Implementation by Late 2023 or Early 2024’. We read that ‘Through the EES, the EU will collect biometric information of those entering and leaving its territory, preventing from entering those posing any type of threat to its security’. From Lewis Silkin here: ‘Monitoring travel within the Schengen Area is due to significantly improve with the implementation of new IT systems. This article focuses on how the implementation of the Entry/Exit System (‘EES’) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (‘ETIAS’) is likely to affect British travellers’.
From TimeOut here: ‘Spain and Portugal could finally be getting a high-speed train link. Spanish rail operator Renfe’s plans for expansion could mean trains direct to Lisbon and Porto from Madrid’.
For many Spaniards, a vacation can be a costly business which they can’t easily afford says Infobae here.
How many tourists for each resident?
If there's more than a handful, then there's a crowd, or a throng, or a horde, or a mob.
The ten destinations in Spain with the heaviest saturation of visitors to locals include Mojácar (number six overall and the leader in Andalucía) at 16.44 tourists for each resident.
*Mojácar population: 7,257
*Mojácar tourists: 119,271 (how on earth do they come up with these numbers...?)
Peñiscola is the worst (or of course 'the best', if you own a pizza parlour there) at 25.5 tourists per local as a mean average.
Here they are: The Top Fifty at Diario de Sevilla.
‘Spain maintains the third lowest inflation in Europe, falling within the ECB's target. The average rate of the Twenty-seven stands at 6.1%, far from the Spanish 2.3%’. El Plural has the story here.
From Público here: ‘The contributions coming from foreign workers already cover two entire months of retirement pensions. Contributions to the Social Security of wage-earners and self-employed workers born in other countries are close to 1,400 million euros per month, with an increase of more than 13% in the last semester thanks to improved employment’.
Not that things are perfect. The Spanish national debt is atrocious. From CADTM here: ‘Interest on the Spanish public debt exceeds €31,000 million, more than spending on unemployment benefits (... and rising)’. The page breaks down the government spending.
Wealth: some folk are living very comfortably says Viento Sur, while admiring the yachts moored in Ibiza. ‘The other side of the coin – says the article – comes from Oxfam who claim that the richest 1% of the population in the Spanish state accumulates 23.1% of its total wealth. Worst of all, however, is not that, but the accumulation of wealth by this tiny group is on the increase. In 2008, before the penultimate crisis, that same 1% held 15.3% of Spain’s total wealth; that is, after the last two major crises the economic power of that oligarchy has increased by 51%. Amancio Ortega of course heads the list, with a fortune of 67,000 million euros. The next one is his daughter. Everything stays at home’. The indignant article carries on: ‘Despite this, Antonio Garamendi, capo di tutti capi of the Spanish employers' association – the CEOE – as well as the Ali Baba of the IBEX35, insists that "we must not speak of the rich and the poor" because this "radicalizes society"…’
Until a new government is chosen, Pedro Sánchez remains as presidente en funciones. Following a possible/probable failure by Núñez Feijóo to bring home a conservative government in late September (El País here), Pedro Sánchez will have two months leeway to negotiate with the smaller groups to find enough backing to form a government. The complication being Junts per Catalunya. The story is at Público here.
Sometimes, a deputy switches sides and gives his vote to The Other Guys. He may do this through conviction, or more likely, for some other reason not unconnected to his finances. This is popularly called un tamayazo (in honour of Eduardo Tamayo) or transfuguismo. We hope that this kind of activity won’t be finding its way to the current front pages…
The apparent wages enjoyed by Feijóo, a secret that has finally been laid bare, may alienate him from some voters (it’s said to be around 14,750€ monthly from various political ends, plus an income from a rental property in Madrid) and his popularity – beyond his position as party leader of the conservatives – may be on the wane. Certainly, if he loses the parliamentary debate on September 27th over his candidature to form a government, he won’t be around much longer…
Tesh Sidi was born 29 years ago in the Auserd refugee camp, one of the five that make up Tindouf, in the inhospitable Algerian desert. Around 173,000 Sahrawis survive there, according to UNHCR, after Morocco occupied a good part of Western Sahara in 1975, which had been a Spanish province until 1976. The total population of Sahrawis is around half a million people spread throughout the world says El Huff Post here. The news however is about Tesh Sidi, who has become a Sumar deputy in the Cortes. Indeed, the first Sahrawi to ever become a deputy.
From The Financial Times here: ‘Brussels would need to translate hundreds of thousands of pages of EU law into Basque, Galician and Catalan under a Spanish proposal that will add to the strains on Europe’s stretched translation service.
Spain has asked the EU to add the three tongues to its list of 24 official languages as part of Pedro Sánchez’s efforts to woo smaller regional parties, whose support he needs to secure a fresh mandate as prime minister…’
From Todo Literatura here: ‘Plataforma per la Llengua today described as insufficient the proposal of the president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, to "deploy the use of Catalan" in European institutions’.
From Insurgencia Magisterial here: ‘J. Antonio Sierra: fifty years fighting for the teaching of co-official languages’. The collaborator with Business over Tapas says "Catalan, Galician and Basque are languages equally as Spanish as Castilian and for this reason they should be able to be studied in all official schools and language institutes at universities, as long as there is a minimum number of students enrolled".
Mostly, the EU uses English because it’s handy – a tongue which is not the official first-language of any current EU member. ‘…Naturally, there are some member countries that commonly use English but have nominated a different language as their EU official language. For instance, the Republic of Ireland uses Irish Gaelic as its official language, and Malta uses Maltese’. Roll on Gibraltar joining the European Union, says I!
A Polish court has extended for the sixth time the provisional detention of Spanish journalist Pablo González, who writes for Público, accused of spying for Moscow (although, once again, without specific charges). González was arrested in Poland in February 2022. A group called #FreePabloGonzález has been created to help pay for legal costs and some provisions for the dispirited journo.
The vote last week to choose a Speaker for the Cortes didn’t go down well with the right-wing media says El Plural here, with sundry examples and quotes.
Some English words used by the Spanish. The article goes on a bit…
Some of us remain in doubt regarding the claims that the world is getting warmer. Not so many as there was after this past couple of months, but still. From El Huff Post here: ‘NASA sends a worrying warning to Spain regarding the temperature, to say that our country will break a dangerous barrier. Sooner rather than later’. The reason, says NASA climatologist Carlos del Castillo: "The greenhouse gas emissions, and we continue to emit more gases into the atmosphere. So there is no reason to think that temperatures will not continue to rise". The barrier could be record temperatures at high as 50ºC. Headline from elDiario.es here: ‘The climate emergency becomes the great economic challenge and threatens to destroy 10% of GDP. The consequences of global warming, droughts and extreme weather events on agriculture, tourism or energy are already visible’.
‘"Take a shower in 3 minutes": Andalucía’s Juanma Moreno focuses on domestic consumption while expanding irrigation and golf resorts. Due to the seriousness of the water crisis, the Junta de Andalucía challenges citizens with its "Water needs you" campaign. In reality, domestic consumption represents less than 10% of the total and is falling over the years’. The article comes from La Política Online here. ‘Use a watering can in the garden’.
From Madridiario here: ‘Madrid, the largest 'heat island' in the world: "The City Council goes against common sense"’. The article warns about cities without trees. ‘With a variance of up to 8.5 degrees Celsius with respect to its periphery, the city of Madrid has already established itself as the urban area most affected in the world by the feared 'heat island' effect (ICU: Isla de Calor Urbano). Directly related to the design of the urban space that replaces the natural environment, the great accumulation of heat in the busiest areas of the capital is determined by factors such as the absence of areas with water and shade, the scarcity of green spaces, the type of materials used in the construction of buildings and public roads, such as concrete, asphalt or steel, and human activity itself…’.
‘Five farmers are accused of drying up the Palancia river in Jérica (Castellón). They are the members of the board of the local irrigation community that has been investigated by the Guardia Civil as responsible for the collapse of the waterway’. The story here (maybe).
The Spanish women’s World Cup victory: ‘Under their motto "Play, fight and win", La Roja made an appointment with history and, with a goal from Olga Carmona in the first half, defeated England in an electrifying and unprecedented final that has consecrated them absolute world champion…’ Barack Obama tweeted ‘Congrats to Spain on their first @FIFAWWC victory! The U.S. will be back next time’ says LaSexta here. The fuss comes from an unwanted sexist kiss from Luis Rubiales and president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation to a player following the victory. Then comes: ‘Chief EU diplomat Josep Borrell draws ire for declaring 'Women are learning to play football as well as men'. There’s evidently still a way to go.
Sur in English brings some pictures of the homecoming team here.
A terrible fire in Tenerife is now beginning to be brought under control – or has at least been ‘stabilised’. So far (Wednesday), after more than a week of conflagration, around 15,000 hectares have been burned within a perimeter of 90 kilometres. The fire is said to have been lit intentionally, say the Guardia.
Which cities speak the best and the worst Spanish? 20Minutos wades in here. Melilla is the worst, with around 6.6% of the population speaking poor Spanish (the second language in Melilla is Tamazight, a Berber tongue). Murcia also stands as speaking poor Spanish says the article. Asturians and Cantabrians speak the best Spanish, we read. The most correctly spoken second language in Spain is Gallego (83.1% of the region speaks good Galician) followed by Catalán (75%). Asturian is only spoken with fluency by 2.8% of that region. Counting all the residents in Spain (foreign-born immigrants as well), around 90% speak fluent Castellano. Lastly, around 12.5% of Spaniards speak good English, it says.
Almería is one of a handful of cities across the world that can lay claim to being located on two separate continents, since, says El Huff Post rather pedantically here, the Island of Alborán, part of the Almerian municipality, is technically in Africa.
The Moroccan embassy in Madrid has a useful map on its website for those interested in this fascinating country. Oddly, and despite various recent accommodations with the Spanish government, the map shows Ceuta and Melilla to both be Moroccan possessions.
José Manuel Soto (wiki) is a popular – if evidently far-right – singer with around 20 albums under his belt. Following a recent post of his on Twitter regarding Pedro Sánchez and his followers which was not exactly brimming with tact, some of his summer concerts have been cancelled by outraged town halls. An article at El Plural says he may have got a backhander from the PP for his remarks. Soto later apologised unreservedly for his insults.
The Thai police say that the autopsy shows that Dani Sancho (BoT editorial last week) had had a fight and had stabbed his victim Edwin Arrieta who subsequently fell and knocked himself out in the bathroom, whereupon Dani cut his throat. La Razón has the story here.
‘The heir to Spain's throne and future commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces has enrolled in military school.
Princess Leonor, 17, will study for three years at the Army Military Academy in Zaragoza, where she will learn basic military training, physical fitness and conditioning and military tactics and strategy among other ways of war.
The new vocation comes after she returned from the UK this summer, where she studied her International Baccalaureate at the UWC Atlantic College in Wales.
She is the eldest child of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain, and has a younger sister, Infanta Sofia’. The Olive Press on Facebook here.
Fish and Chips and the Spanish connection. According to Tapas Magazine here, ‘…The history of the dish begins with the persecution of the Jews in the Iberian Peninsula, during the 16th century. Many of them ended up in England, taking the fried fish with them. It was a Sephardic dish that they used to eat on Fridays. The secret was the use of oil, which sealed the flavours, made the flour crispy and the fish very tasty. To those islanders accustomed to lard, frying in oil seemed revolutionary…’ Later we read: ‘…A Jewish fishmonger who emigrated from Eastern Europe, named Joseph Malin, was the first to come up with the idea, in 1860, of putting fried fish and potatoes together in his store in the East End…’
From Sur in English here: ‘Granada pips Seville to the post to take title of the most beautiful city in Spain. A total of four cities in Andalucía featured in the national Top Twelve listing, following a poll on social media’.
The antique village where cars are banned. From 20Minutos here: ‘In the middle of one of the largest (and least known) natural spaces in all of Cantabria is Bárcena Mayor, a small village with a lot of charm, which is included in the list of the most beautiful villages in Spain, and where is preserved an extraordinary mountain architecture...’
But, perhaps we’ve left it all a bit too late. From Spanish Shilling here, ‘The quiet life, free from tourism’.
Would it be possible for you to add this as a footnote to your next BoT.
The Elysium Memorial. Fundraising
Following the success of our last expedition, kayaking from Liverpool to London, we are challenging ourselves again this year and will be back in the kayaks, this time paddling from Manchester to London. We will be setting off from Throstle Nest Bridge, near Old Trafford football stadium on the 18th August and will reach Limehouse Basin on the 31st. All support will be welcome, please see our blog for details of the route.
My very good friend Corporal Steve Nicol of the 4th Scots is currently powering his way south as we speak. A fantastic challenge for a fantastic cause.
There are a huge number of former military members in our community, they may consider helping.
Many thanks in advance, David
Manolo Escobar was a popular singer from Almería (Que Viva España, Viva el Vino y las Mujeres and so on). Here he is with that old gypsy stand-by Porompompom from the film Todo es Posible en Granada on YouTube.