Business over Tapas

A digest of this week’s Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners: 

Prepared by Lenox Napier.  Consultant: José Antonio Sierra

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November 14 2019            Nº 326

Editorial: 

The results are in and the numbers were even less useful than the previous elections last April. However, on Tuesday, Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias, leaders of the PSOE and Unidas Podemos respectively, made a joint statement, having agreed a deal to govern in a coalition. The two parties are still short on a parliamentary majority, but they will (hopefully) gather enough support, either in a first or second vote, to form a progressive government for late December. 

In the election results, the PSOE lost a couple and Podemos lost a few, making the left a little weaker. The PP and the Vox gained heavily, making the right a little stronger, however, Ciudadanos (the weak third leg of the so-called ‘trifachita‘) collapsed, falling from 57 seats to just 10 (even the regional ERC did better, with 13). The party-leader Albert Rivera resigned his post (and his seat) on Monday after calling for an immediate party congress. His Nº2 Inés Arrimadas will likely take over. 

The remains of Ciudadanos unhelpfully reacted on Tuesday by saying they wouldn’t support the PSOE/Podemos coalition.  

The putative progressive government (known in right-wing circles as ‘the 200 million euro hug’) will suppose a vice-presidency for Podemos and a number of new programs, to be enlarged upon in the coming days. The ‘preacuerdo’ is here. 

But, for it to work, says ElDiario.es, an abstention from the Catalonian ERC is key. 

An issue that has clouded the water is the voting system itself. How can one party get thirteen seats with 870,000 votes (ERC) while Ciudadanos with 1,637,000 votes got only ten? The answer is the d’Hondt Method, a mathematical calculation used to assign winning seats. 

In short, it’s a messy solution. The case for the PSOE (and the country) was this: they couldn’t do it then, but they can do it now, when things are even more complicated, which means, of course, that they should have done it then. All of which reads as: poor political management this summer from Pedro Sánchez. 

Now he has a powerful new enemy in Vox to deal with in the public arena. 

… …

To see how your municipality voted (or, if it worries you, how many of your neighbours voted for Vox) go here. 

……

Housing:

From Spanish Property Insight here: ‘The Andalusian parliament endorses planning solution for illegally-built homes in the face of opposition from environmentalists’. There are useful insights from Mark Stücklin within. 

As Portugal before, now Greece. From La Información here: ‘Greece, paradise for retirees: those who move there will not pay taxes for ten years. The Hellenic country copies Portugal and foreign pensioners will enjoy great tax advantages’. The program ‘Tax relief for businesses, investors and households in Greece’ is still under government review. The news-site also offers ‘The nine best countries to retire to’ here. 

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Politics:

A plan by the PSOE to allow votes for all residents in local elections is in the works. Regardless of ‘reciprocity’, foreign residents over 18 would be allowed to participate in choosing their mayor and local government under the plan. The next municipal elections will be in 2023, so there’s time to get this initiative through. In 2019, only 470,000 foreigners were permitted to vote in the local elections (how many did, is anybody’s guess). 

In the April elections, only 5.6% of Spaniards who live abroad voted. This, says El País here, was due to bureaucracy as much as any other issue. On Wednesday, the votes for this Sunday’s election from abroad, plus the displaced police in Catalonia, are being counted – perhaps there will be a small change in the results published on Sunday night?  Later: So far, one change – an extra seat for the PP (now with 89) at the expense of the PNV. 

El Español thinks that Pablo Iglesias will accept the ministries of Work and Social Security, Health, Housing, Ecology and Historical Memory (this last to the Izquierda Unida).

The choices are (were): 

1. The Current Position: PSOE with UP and some smaller parties. 

2. A Grand Coalition: PSOE with the PP and Ciudadanos

3. What the hell: Fresh elections. 

Tempered, and complicated, by the mismanaged Catalonia situation. 

What does having more than fifty deputies mean exactly? ‘This minimum number allows parties to appeal laws passed by Congress and the autonomous parliaments before the Constitutional Court’ says Maldita here. Vox got 52 seats, so we can expect some trouble from that quarter. 

Until things are set in stone, there’s still a chance. At least, that’s what the survivors from Ciudadanos think, offering Sánchez on Tuesday fealty from their regional councillors in both Castilla y León and Andalucía to upset the autonomous governments in those two regions and return them to the PSOE. In exchange – that he drops his proposed coalition with Pablo Iglesias. The story is at ElDiario.es. 

El Mundo says that the PP is looking to absorb Ciudadanos into its bosom within two years. 

One of the new parties on the scene is Teruel Existe. The province, long forgotten by Madrid (at least, so the Turolenses say) is large and lightly populated (wiki). The new party, championed by Tomás Guitarte, has one seat in the new parliament.  

Bildu, the Basque independence group (led by the currently disqualified Arnaldo Otegi) took five seats, much to the horror of those who remember ETA (here). Five is enough to have ‘a parliamentary group’, which allows for extra debate privileges. 

In the Senate (wiki), the PSOE fell from its majority from 123 senators (plus 14) to just 92 (with the extra 14 – via Senate election rules). The story here. 

The abrupt fall of Ciudadanos equals, inter alia, less money for the pot. The loss of 47 deputies and four senators means a fall in the party’s accounts by a staggering nine million euros in public funding. The story is at El Independiente here. 

Numbers. There are 4,720,000 foreign immigrants registered in Spain (2018). None of them, of course, have the vote outside of (in some 10% of cases) municipal elections. Vox, a party not unduly enamoured of Spain’s immigrants, polled 3,640,000 votes. 

Vox votes in areas with high immigration is analysed at ElDiario.es here. ‘Vox has gone further in the final stretch of the campaign and has accentuated their speech to take advantage of xenophobia. Their electoral video broadcast on television insisted on the false relationship between immigration and crime and Santiago Abascal himself has read from a lectern a list of surnames of foreign origin to promote the false myth of abuse of public services; Vox leaders have speculated on prime time TV about the supposed savings in excluding immigrants from public health services and they have campaigned outside the doors of centres for underage immigrants calling them criminals. For the elections of November 10th, the message from the extreme right has penetrated some of Spain’s municipalities with high immigration numbers, but not all…’. .  

Vox isn’t really racist. Oh yeah? A collection of articles about the ultra-right party here. 

‘When fascism shouts ‘let’s get them’ they are not being metaphorical’: the responses on Twitter after the election celebrations of the extreme right at Público here. 

The full list of the 52 Vox deputies and who they are is here

One likable chap called Bertrand Ndongo who not only got his Spanish papers, but also a Vox party card, thinks that all foreigners who commit a crime should be deported (video). OK, except Ronaldo. Obviously. 

……

Catalonia:

The largest problem in Spain, politically speaking, is ‘Catalonia’. In reality, it’s wages, poverty, jobs and housing, but anyway. Catalonia. The independence movement, fortified by the ham-fisted handling by Central Government of the procès, duly erupted last month into lengthy and highly visible riots which kept the centrist parties weak and allowed the rise of the fanatical Vox. Madrid: you reap what you sow. 

From the pro-independence site Vilaweb here: ‘Catalan pro-independence parties (ERC, JxCat and CUP) made the best result ever in a Spanish election, rising from 22 to 23 seats and from 39 to 43% of the votes. If we add pro-referendum party En Comú Podem, the percentage of parties defending an independence vote in Catalonia rises to 57%…’. 

EU court advocate general recognizes jailed Catalan leader Oriol Junqueras as an MEP.

Maciej Szupnar says that Spain cannot prevent the former vice president from taking up his European Parliament seat’. Headline from Catalan News here.

‘Brussels reproaches the future ‘High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy’ Josep Borrell for revealing confidential information about the Clara Ponsatí (wiki) euro-order. The foreign minister had posted on his Twitter account a restricted document sent by the British police’. From El País here. Like the now disappeared Albert Rivera, Josep Borrell is a Catalán. 

The ‘Committees for the Defence of the Republic’, the CDR (wiki), are responsible for many of the road-closures and other protests in Catalonia and along the frontier with France. ‘Either Independence or Barbarism’ they say.  El Periodico writes of them here. 

……

Gibraltar:

Vox (which seems to star in this week’s BoT) describes Gibraltar as ‘a den of pirates’ and says it will never renounce sovereignty over the isthmus. Europa Press reports here. 

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Brexit: 

Have you seen this? French, Italian and Portuguese citizens who live abroad have representation in their national parliaments with special deputies to speak for them. France has eleven of these (here). The French deputy for Spain and Portugal is Samantha Cazebonne.  Meanwhile, in the UK, there’s the ‘Fifteen Year Rule’ to stop expatriate Britons from being represented in Westminster (even on subjects of obvious interest like ‘Brexit’!).

The New European says ‘Financial gurus are telling Britain’s 1.8 million émigrés (sic!) in the EU to ensure they have a vote, as the consequences of a no-deal Brexit could be disastrous for their finances’.

……

Media: 

As in many countries, journalists are obliged to pay the piper. Here, an anonymous journo from El Mundo fires a broadside on Twitter against his bosses regarding their defence of a fake article the paper ran. Diario 16 explains here the background to the Javier Negre story.

……

Ecology: 

‘A United Nations’ Climate Change Summit due to be held in Chile but cancelled as a result of mass protests across the nation will take place in Madrid – it’s official. Acting president Pedro Sánchez had offered his capital city as a substitute, and it has now been confirmed that the Summit will take place at Madrid’s huge exhibition centre, the IFEMA, which also plays host every January to one of the world’s biggest tourism trade fairs, FITUR…’. An item from Think Spain here. But what about Greta Thunberg, who is in the USA (was on her way to Chile) and won’t fly? Understandably. After all, she practices what she preaches… The Olive Press offers some aid: ‘…The Olive Press has stepped in to offer her a lift in an electric car from any of the ports she can make it to on the Iberian Peninsula, that could include Cádiz, Lisbon or A Coruna…’. Well done them. Later: Greta now has a ride across the Atlantic on a catamaran owned by an Australian family says El País here. 

El País talks of more worry over the bacteria that cause plant plague, and an initiative to control them. A biologist says ‘There are 20 deadly pests banging on the doors of Europe. Their entry is imminent. People are not aware of the threat. There is a blithe and absolute unconsciousness on the subject’. Just one of these, the Xylella fastidiosa (‘the ebola of the olive tree’) puts at risk 300,000 jobs in the EU, says the article.  The European Commission is working on solutions, but many ‘useful pesticides’ (say the farmers) are banned under European law. 

Andalucía is short of water. Shorter than ever, says El Independiente de Granada here. A map shows the driest areas of the region. Thirteen agricultural regions are currently in severe drought, six more than in June, while there were none just a year ago. 

The environmental tragedy which is currently suffered by the Mar Menor is no stranger to this section of BoT. The lagoon is ‘probably changed forever’ as reported last week. Indeed, a major protest was held in Cartagena against the situation, with representation from every party… except Vox. Odd then, that the winning party in all the parishes that surround the inland sea, except one, went to Abascal’s boys. The story is here. 

Now a no-confidence motion against the ruling PP in the Murcia regional government by the PSOE over the Mar Menor issue may go ahead on December 13th, with the novel support of Ciudadanos, says El Independiente here. 

……

Various:

Magnet shows us here who owns all the different foodstuffs we buy. It seems that nine multinationals hold the key to our larders. 

From El País in English here: ‘The Franco family fortune: €102 million and 258 properties. The late dictator’s grandchildren control assets that include a palace, 22 homes, 195 garage spaces, 29 country estates, five commercial premises and three rural plots’. 

The European Parliament calls to illegalise the Fundación Francisco Franco here. 

The DGT is to make driving tests harder and more expensive says La Razón here.

The ugliest buildings in Spain – a thread on Reddit here. There are some shockers! 

‘Spain continues to have one of the worst levels of English in Europe. A new study places the country in 25th spot on a list of 33 EU states with respect to its proficiency in the language’. Headline from El País in English here.

Rosalia the flamenco/pop sensation is in the news for her brief two-word political summation tweet (well, you can’t knock her mastery of the English language). 

……

See Spain:

From Eye on Spain here ‘Navarra has some of the most beautiful villages in the country, not often a region that foreigners really think of visiting, but it really must be considered as there is so much to see. Here are 10 of the most beautiful villages…’. 

Ideal tells us here that Granada has the most vegan restaurants per capita, while providing us with a list of the top ten vegan cities of Spain. 

What to see in Guadix, Granada with España Fascinante here (btw, it gets very cold there in the winter!).

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Letters:

(On Santiago Abascal) Ghastly man. Scary outfit. Somehow the rise of the far right in Europe must be halted. Racists and xenophobes have come out of hiding in Spain and the UK. Ironically, many of those ‘expats’ (aka immigrants) in Spain are among their number and voted for Brexit.

Nola

(On is yoga a fake?) Ask any of us that used it to get through difficult times. Of course it’s effective; at the very least it increases mobility.

Jo

Notice: I’ve never had any problems with email addresses, except for Gmail. If the BoT doesn’t arrive – as it should – then check your ‘Spam folder’ first, otherwise please let me know.

Cheers, Lenox

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Finally:

The socialists are coming (Chinese whispers edition). A comedy clip on YouTube here.

 

Enviado por José Antonio Sierra