A digest of this week’s Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners:
With Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner. Consultant: José Antonio Sierra
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December 13 2018 Nº 282
Catalonia is the elephant in the Spanish room at present, with Vox casting a second baleful shadow across the parquet, perhaps posing as an elephant gun.
The Article 155 (‘In plain English, the article means that if a self-governing community, like Catalonia, has acted in any way to undermine the interests of Spain, the national government will «take all measures necessary» to force it to meet its obligations to the state’ (here).). Inés Arrimadas from Ciudadanos, the leader of the ‘constitucionalistas’ in the region, is keen on its implementation, while Miquel Iceta, from the Catalonian socialist PSC, is less so.
So, how are they doing in Catalonia? The confrontational President Quim Torra now says he wants a Slovenian-style independence, with reminders from all sides that Slovenia attained its, ah, freedom after numerous deaths and a civil war. The Catalanistas say that the deaths were caused by Slobodan Milosevic, who was a Serbian (i.e. from the subjugators). Other (wiser) voices are saying, wait; maybe we meant a Scottish independence. Meanwhile, if you can believe you read in the right-wing press, the hunger-strikers in jail are secretly lunching on nutritional milk-shakes.
Outside of parliamentary debates, the local Republican Defence Committee (CDR) have been taking matters into their own hands this past weekend, blocking then later allowing motorists free passage on the toll road AP-7 (with the Mossos taking no action). The National Government is now considering sending the Guardia Civil to the region to maintain order (at least, as understood by Madrid).
Elsewhere, the rise of Vox in far-off Andalucía, and apparently in much of the rest of Spain, is thought to be down in part to President Sánchez’ apparently weak hand on the Catalonia issue and Vox’s strident call for Catalonian submission and the suspension of the Generalitat. Not that that’s a bad thing for the Catalonian secessionists, where it’s thought that the more they hear of the political threat of Vox in Barcelona, the better for the cause of the Independentistas.
The leader of Ciudanos, Albert Rivera, has offered some supportive deal to the Government if it both crushes the Catalonians and calls for early elections (here), but (as of Tuesday evening), the Government says it will not apply the Article 155 to the troubled region.
So there we are. Santiago Abascal, the Vox leader, wants to see Quim Torra arrested and has signed a complaint for rebellion against the Catalonian leader. ‘He needs to be imprisoned, nothing else will do’, he says emphatically.
Will all of this help return wavering Catalonians return to The Fold?
From El País in English here: ‘The IMF tells Spain to keep an eye on rising housing prices. The agency does not see signs of a new bubble, but wants tools in place to keep credit in check if necessary’.
‘The property market in Spain is set to remain buoyant in 2019 with one firm predicting that prices could rise between 5% and 7% in 2019. The data from valuation firm Tinsa also shows that house prices rose 5.6% year on year nationwide in November and it is predicting that sales will increase from 500,000 to between 625,000 and 650,000 going forward. As well as property sales, it is predicted that the number of building licences awarded will grow in a similar fashion and will reach 100,000 to 125,000 in 2019. But the figures also point out that prices are still 36% lower than the level reached before the financial crisis in 2006 and 2007…’. More at Property Wire here.
From EuropeanCEO comes ‘Spanish golf properties continue to soar in popularity. Golf properties have become a hot investment as the sport continues to attract more players’.
El País is also in positive territory: ‘Second-hand housing heats up and registers the biggest price increase since 2007. Used housing rose in Spain by 7.3% annually during the third quarter of the year’.
The Government has ordered the power companies to claim no price increases in 2019, a measure which will lose them some 453 million euros, says El Mundo here.
From El Blog Salmon comes: ‘The tax system in Spain is built against the poor and favours the rich, when the reverse should be the case. But as always happens in a tax system, you can look at it from many perspectives and interests. Taxes are one of the few factors that have a great influence on the fight against poverty and inequality in any country. Spain collects little and badly, which has a great impact on the ability to fulfil its duty to guarantee the social rights of all. Here we ask: How can Spain’s tax system be fixed…?’.
The Ageing Population
By Andrew Brociner
Recently, Japan has loosened its immigration controls, something remarkable in a country notorious for having strict immigration policies. Japan had to finally face the fact that its population is ageing and there are not enough people to replace the working population. This demographic phenomenon is similar in many advanced countries. Spain also has an ageing population, one of the highest in Europe.
The population is expected to increase in Spain:
But the population of Spain also continues to age. As can be seen, the median age of the population of Spain has been on an upwards path for decades.
If we look at the median age projections in Spain, we see that they keep on rising with a peak in the 2030s. From just under 30 in 1960, it is forecast to increase to almost 50 by 2036. Afterwards, it is still expected to remain at a high level for decades. Indeed, it is not until 2070 that it is expected to revert to its current levels.
We have looked at the use of the Social Security Reserve Fund for reducing the budget deficit according to austerity measures and have seen that this has been almost depleted in only a few years. This fund was intended to compensate for payment shortfalls especially in the near future when demographic concerns begin to take effect. If nothing else happens, without this fund, other policies will have to be implemented, such as pension reforms, incentives for larger families and looser immigration policies. With the increasing rise of far-right parties in Europe largely based on anti-immigration, there will be increasing tensions between economic necessities and political trends.
The PP wants its voters back, says ElDiario.es here, and is moving into Vox territory to get them.
From El País in English here: ‘Why Vox really is a far-right party. Although its leader Santiago Abascal rejects the label, his ideology is based on populism, nationalism and an identity-based narrative’.
How would Vox do in a general election? Quite well, says LaSexta here (with video).
An editorial from El País asks, ‘What is behind the politics of hatred?’ It begins, ‘Xenophobia, the rejection of diversity, a paranoid mentality towards the outside world and the construction of scapegoats has become a global trend. The question must now be taken seriously, not left in the hands of extremists. Collective unity must be strengthened’.
The Government will approve the increase of the minimum wage (SMI) to 900 euros in the Council of Ministers which is scheduled to take place on 21 December in Barcelona, as announced by Pedro Sanchez in his appearance at the Catalonian parliament. Sanchez notes that this is a rise of 22 percent, the highest since 1977, and he justified this measure with a explanation that “a rich country cannot have poor workers”…’. Item from Última Hora.
The CIS pollsters (applauded or reviled according to taste) say that 84% of Spaniards think that cannabis should be legal for medical reasons, while 47% think it should be also available for recreational purposes (against 41% who think it should be illegal). However, despite pressure from both Podemos and Ciudadanos to debate the issue, it remains blocked in congress says ElDiario.es here.
Revolving doors: when a retired politician is found a significant post. It’s improper, but commonplace. Here we see the ex-secretary of the PP, María Dolores de Cospedal, safely ensconced at the Real Instituto Elcano, the Nation’s think-tank (mind you, both Zapatero and Aznar are on the same board). The story is at Moncloa.com here.
Andalucía has until December 27th to build a new government (A Spanish joke talks of a potential PP, C’s and Vox union as a veritable ‘Franconstein’). A possible governing alliance would be the PP and C’s, with Vox complicit behind the scenes, says ElDiario.es here. Perhaps the candidate from Ciudadanos, Juan Marín, despite being the third party, and with an abstention from the PSOE, would be an elegant solution for the post of President…
Jordi Évole duly presented his documentary on the Vox presence in the Andalusian elections on Salvados at LaSexta last Sunday (some clips here). El Huff Post watched the show here. BBC News has a short video on Vox here.
According to El Mundo, the Almerian municipality of Níjar (!) is a hot-bed of far-right supporters. We are told that: ‘This is how the system fails in Níjar, the Spanish Calais that supports Vox with 2,500 immigrants living in shantytowns’.
What with all the excitement in Andalucía, has no one thought to be concerned about the large number of ‘pringaos‘ – those who have a well-paid public job while doing very little – who will soon, after twenty or thirty years of ‘public service’, be put on the street? We read: ‘…All those positions of ‘enchufados‘, the old friends network – 24,000 of them according to estimates – could lose their gigs in the next months (although, hey, be fair, not all were necessarily plugged in). With the collapse of the PSOE in the recent elections, there will be a gigantic ‘ERE‘ in the public administration…’. More at El Español here.
Stolen public money in Spain costs each citizen around 2,000€ every year. The story is reported at La Voz de Galicia here.
Every time there’s an eviction (primarily organised by the rapacious banks), a family must move into the street (or a friend or family-member’s spare bedroom). The Okupas (squatters) are much harder to shift, and they haven’t invested anything in the property. When you are evicted for a mortgage, you lose whatever you had paid so far. ‘The eviction drama continues to exist in Spain. According to the PAH, the Platform of Affected by Mortgages, by the end of this year there will be over 70,000 evictions in Spain. The worst data in history…’. The Cadena Ser has the story here.
‘A judge in Madrid has decided to reject the personification of the State Attorney’s Office in the criminal process that decides whether there was embezzlement and prevarication when in 2013 the Community of Madrid, governed by the PP, sold 2,935 council flats to a vulture fund for 201 million euros. The judge thus kills off one of the star measures of Pedro Sanchez to combat these investment funds. The President of the Government announced last September in Congress that he had instructed the Lawyers to appear in the judicial procedure investigating this sale, but the judge considers that there is no basis for it because the State has not been harmed…’. From El Confidencial here.
According to El País here, ‘Brexit encourages more Britons to want to be Spanish’. But then admits that ‘Nationality applications are still low, although triple compared to 2015’.
From The Local here: ‘A new option has become available to the UK in the Brexit process as the European Court of Justice ruled that revoking Article 50 unilaterally is a possibility. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has judged that the UK is free, should the government choose to, to “revoke unilaterally” its notification to withdraw from the European Union…’.
Not only indignant Brits… From El Correo here: ‘Meet Aratxu Blanco, one of the administrators of a Facebook account for Spaniards resident in the UK who oppose ‘Brexit’ (here), demonstrates daily before the British Parliament’.
One proposal of Vox is to close the regional TV and radio broadcasters. Canal Sur is particularly expensive and (forgive us) unwatchable. According to Libre Mercado here, the regional broadcaster has an annual budget of 162.7 million euros and employs 1,462 people.
‘Advertising revenues newspapers are fading in a process that already seems inexorable. … It happens in all advanced markets with overwhelming data. … In Spain, the latest InfoAdex data for the first nine months of 2018, show a new general decline in investment in print media, with a year-on-year fall of 6.1%, which adds to eleven years of endless declines…’. Media-Tics looks at the problem here. As we have seen, the free-press is not immune from this, as production costs soar and advertisers turn to other alternatives.
Some of the toll routes – those redeemed by the Government – will have their charges reduced by 30% from January to increase traffic (although, weren’t they going to be free?). These are the four outside Madrid, the Cartagena -Vera route and the Alicante bypass. Apparently, says El Mundo, other toll motorway prices in Spain will be increased.
‘Sixty-six bridges in Spain have serious safety problems, ministry admits. The figure represents 0.29% of nearly 23,000 structures built on roads managed by the Spanish state’. The story from El País in English here. There’s a map of the worst ones here.
From the Eye on Spain forum: ‘How do you see Vox?’
From ADSLZone here, it seems that Movistar is putting up its prices once again. The company also offers Netflix from this week.
‘The German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, the second most read in the country after the sensationalist Bild, has devoted a harsh article (here) to the Spanish Royal House, which it says is «extremely unpopular» because of «the many scandals of recent years»…’. The story is at El Huff Post here.
‘Spain is least ‘culturally arrogant’ country in Europe but here are many reasons why you should say ‘¡Viva España!’. Spain is the humblest country in Europe when it comes to shouting about its national patrimony – way behind boastful Britain and gloating Greece, according to a recent poll’. But The Olive Press brings ten good reasons for Spaniards to be proud of their native land…
According to Government figures, while regular drinking has fallen, smoking among Spaniards has risen to alarming levels, matching the rate seen twenty years ago. 34% of Spaniards say they had smoked a cigarette in the past thirty days. 20 Minutos has the story.
Spain now has 18,000 less bars than it did in 2010. There are now barely 184,430 left. Gasp!
From El País, gloomy reading: ‘The first half of 2018 records the lowest number of births since 1941. The number of deaths is also the highest since that year, when the INE began its data collection in Spain’. In the first six months of 2018, there were 179,794 births – down 5.8% over the same period in 2017; and there were 226,384 deaths, bringing a loss to the population of 46,950 souls.
Facua, the consumer association, has requested the withdrawal of three mantequilla (butter) products from La Asturiana which contain unhealthy additives.
The British have discovered horchata apparently. Only, they call it ‘Tigermilk’ or ‘New Vegan Milk’. The good people of Valencia are naturally incensed. See 20 Minutos here.
From ElDiario.es comes: ‘The real figures for bullfighting contradict Pablo Casado: the reality is half of the spectators and a fraction of the takings. The president of the PP said that six million people go to the shows worth 3,560 million euros in proceeds. The official attendance figure is around 3.6 million, according to the Ministry of Culture’. The PSOE want to ban the bulls, says Casado (erroneously). It is of course a shame that a cultural activity (like it or not) should be cast in a political light.
Spain’s other eccentricity is also drawing towards the end of its day. Prostitutes recently formed a union to protect themselves (‘OTRAS’), which the government immediately outlawed and is now leaning towards closing down the nation’s large collection of puticlubs. There are apparently 53 ‘legal’ examples of these in Almería alone, plus many more stashed away in obscure places and under worse conditions says the local paper here.
The Prado museum has bought the painting ‘Niña con Paloma’ by Simon Vouet with crowd-funding, says ElDiario.es here.
From The Guardian comes ‘A local’s guide to Granada: 10 top tips. Once you’ve ticked off the Alhambra, check out Granada’s edgier barrio culture, with both alternative and traditional bars, great flamenco, food and street art’.
‘All around the Guadalhorce Valley (inland Málaga) you will find vegetable gardens, orchards and fields of crops. And with such a fabulous range of local produce it is no surprise you can eat well here…’. Foodie item from The Olive Press here.
Dear Lenox, In your last BoT you express your dislike of Vox. You may be right – but do not forget there were 395,978 that voted for them across Andalucía.
By applying democracy – you cannot just turn a blind eye to this fact. One must listen to the voters’ voice – not the politicians. The polling station where I worked all day on Election Day is in a typical PSOE area – but we had 12% votes for Vox. I have a feeling that PSOE also has lost a lot of votes to Vox – due to voters being fed up with 36 years of the same government in Andalucía.
Please, also note that Vox got a lot of votes where the immigrants are arriving.
By the way, to be clear, I’m not a Vox supporter.
Kind regards, Harald
‘Galicia, Celtic paradise’. Thus the video at YouTube.
Enviado por José Antonio Sierra