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 28 2019 Nº 328
To form a government, Sánchez either needs a parliamentary majority – which seems impossible – or at least a majority of ‘yeses’ over the ‘nos’ with the doubtful parties relying on abstaining. Unfortunately, the three right-wing parties of PP, Vox and Ciudadanos won’t allow this situation to ease by abstaining, leaving us with the current scenario. So far, the plan to join with Unidas Podemos has received the support of 92% of PSOE militants who answered the consultation (here). Podemos members also voted in favour at 97% (here). Currently, attention is focused on gaining the tacit support of the ERC, the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (wiki). The ERC is an independence party with its leader Oriol Junqueras imprisoned for thirteen years for ‘sedition’. The party has consulted its militants and found 95% won’t support an arrangement with the PSOE without ‘a negotiation over Catalonia’. (Or, as El País gamely puts it: ‘Massive support of the ERC militancy to the leadership plan to negotiate the investiture of Sánchez’). That arrangement says Moncloa.es here, would include pardoning the political prisoners jailed (or in exile) over the pròces.
‘Critics of the PSOE warn: the pact with Podemos and ERC «puts coexistence at risk»’, says VozPópuli here, adding ‘A debate platform called La España que reúne, sponsored by the former French socialist minister Manuel Valls, warns that «Spain is in a troublesome situation» and that a PSOE and Podemos government pact, with the inevitable support of an ERC that has not renounced its plan to break the unity of the country «would be a very serious political error and irresponsibility that would put our freedoms and citizen coexistence at risk»…’. The platform would like to see a PSOE-PP-C’s partnership.
José María Aznar is also fully against a PSOE/Podemos government and warns Spaniards ‘you’ll be hearing a lot from me in the future’ (here).
If all goes to pot, then a fresh election will be held, says El Español, on April 5th 2020.
Is foreign demand for Spanish holiday-homes sustainable, asks Spanish Property Insight in an interesting article here.
The Corner is sanguine here on the real-estate recovery: ‘After several years of recovery, Spain housing market shows signs of deceleration, opening a debate about whether this is the prelude to the outbreak of a new bubble. At present there is no real estate bubble in Spain and, therefore, the effects of the slowdown in the real estate sector itself and in the rest of the economy will be limited. In other words, in the current scenario, an adjustment can be expected but not a collapse of the real estate sector…’.
‘One winter day in 2012, the architect Ernest Garriga began to discover with friends from Barcelona the possibility of building their own residence to move in together. It would be a construction, in addition, very different from all those that were rising in the city. It would be of wood instead of concrete. It would be full of shared areas instead of those watertight compartments that encourage isolation. In short, it would be a friendly town square of the forties in the middle of the implacable metropolis…’. So begins the story at El Confidencial here. Now, seven years later, fifty of these projects are becoming a reality across Spain.
The fad for items on selling abandoned villages continues. BBC World brings us ‘Rural depopulation has hit the Spanish region of Galicia hard. Now some of its thousands of abandoned villages are being marketed for sale’.
The eight most common questions about community swimming pool rules in Spain are here.
‘Ryanair will not change its baggage policy after the conviction for the supplement of 20 euros. Ryanair has responded to the judgment of a commercial court that has judged in favour of a passenger who was charged 20€ for hand luggage’. From Cadena Ser here.
From VozPópuli here: ‘Hotel overnight stays suffer the biggest drop in fifteen months following the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook. The collapse of the British giant infects Spanish hotels. Overnight stays decreased by 2% during the month of October’.
Spain’s two largest tourist agencies Globalia and Barceló have merged. They say they won’t close any of their 1,500 offices across Spain. ABC has the details here.
An article about over-tourism is at Go Nomad here. Money for sure, but queues and inconvenience for locals and visitors alike.
El Boletín says that the Banco de España has given up on the return of 75% of the money extended on saving the banks between 200 and 2011 (wiki) – that’s around 42,600 million euros. We remember at the time Mariano Rajoy and his minister Luis de Guindos saying that ‘the rescue wouldn’t cost the tax-payers a cent’ (here). Who holds the money now? Público has the details. ‘…that’s more than 1,000 euros per person, including the baby. Ever-ree-one! Meanwhile, the bank continues to deny credits to SMEs and freelancers, evicting and accumulating empty apartments and enjoying earnings and wages of millions…’, says Público again here. As for Luis de Guindos, he currently serves as the Vice President of the European Central Bank (wiki).
CTXT looks at the disaster of Spain’s ‘Bad Bank’: ‘The Sareb: anatomy of embezzlement. 250,000 homes financed with public money will end up in the hands of private investment funds, leaving in addition a huge debt that will be assumed by the State. As Luis de Guindos erroneously said, «The bad bank will never involve costs for taxpayers.».
‘The Ministry of Labour, Migration and Social Security has released the latest data on pension expenditure, which shows a monthly gap of 524 euros between average retirement pensions from self-employed workers and retired company-workers.
In total, 1.3 million people who were self-employed now collect a Social Security retirement pension, but that pension is an average of 763.40 euros, with significant differences between men (who on average receive 856, 20€) and women (634.25€).
The number of beneficiaries of retirement pensions who were employees is 4.3 million people and their average pension is 1,287 euros, with men at 1,437.80€ and women 1,014,30€…’. Details at VoxPópuli here.
La Información looks at income here: ‘X-Ray of Spanish income: 40% of Spaniards live from pensions or unemployment payments. In 2018, the average annual salary was 19,809€, while the average pension stood at 14,917€ and unemployment benefit at just 3,004€.
‘A dangerous Trojan Virus called ‘Ginp’ has been planted in the apps of seven Spanish banks – on Android phones. The apps affected are those from Caixabank, Bankinter, Bankia, BBVA, EVO Banco, Kutxabank and Santander, says Citizen’s Advice here (based on an El País warning here).
Fallout from the ERE sentencing: Susana Díaz (who was the president of the Junta de Andalucía following from the disgraced Chaves and Griñán) says she is sorry for the case but ‘I wasn’t there in those days, I came along several years after, and neither was I president then nor was I expecting to be’. El Huff Post has the story here. El Observador says that there is nowhere any suggestion that Chaves or Griñán ever took a penny of the huge scam for themselves (faint consolation for their supporters).
Following from last week’s item about Más País, a deputy has now quit, passing her seat in parliament to her colleague Inés Sabanés who is the leader of Equo (the Green party).
Having won a majority in Murcia – the only province that fell to Vox in the recent national elections, with three deputies for the Cortes in Madrid – the executive for the party in the province has resigned in its entirety ‘over the high work-load’ says La Vanguardia here.
Monday was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (see here). Vox reminded us once again what a dreadful party they are. The Guardian reports: ‘Spain’s far-right Vox blocks violence against women declaration. Vox refusal to sign joint all-party statement outrages civil rights groups and embarrasses allies’.
From The Independent here: ‘A deputy of far right Spanish party Vox is offering ultrasounds to women outside abortion clinics to “intimidate them”.
The Hill has an article on the rise of the far-right in Europe here. (Hat tip to Colin)
Vox tells the good people of Gibraltar – we’re coming for you. The thing is, there are just three choices for such an endeavour, if successful.
1) Make the Gibraltarians all Spanish – although they would become highly divisive Spaniards, opening up another (smaller) hostile independence movement in the south.
2) Send them all back to the UK (there’s the Tangiers ferry they could use).
3) Shoot them.
In any event, the UN would begin to look favourably on ‘returning’ (yes, yes, we know) Melilla and Ceuta to Morocco. The thing to note is that there are 30,000 Gibraltarians, and 160,000 Melillenses and Ceutís, very few of whom would remain as staunch Vox supporters following such a grotesque geopolitical restructuring…
Última Hora says that around 150 socialists have signed a document in support of ex-presidents Chaves and Griñán, condemned in the shameful ERE scandal. The sentence won’t be confirmed (and the punishments duly given) for another year as the Supreme Court slows down with several judges retiring and so on… One unionist now admits he was paid 5,676€ per month during the ERE years ‘for doing nothing beyond being the friend of Juan Lanzas (one of the condemned in the case) here.
Mercedes Ayala, the popular judge who was removed from the ERE Inquiry in Seville, tells El Mundo, “every day there are more of us that doubt that there is judicial independence in Spain”. The story is here.
Who pays for the Fake News? An article at El Salto looks at the propagandists here. It’s easy to spin the news to pander to your readers. When you get caught out, as sometimes happens, then a small notice on Page 23 is usually enough. As the article says (by way of illustration), a recent piece in El Mundo with the one word title ‘Sentence’ apologises for a recent interview made by one of their journalists which, in fact, never occurred. El Mundo is a subscriber to something called The Trust Project (as is Sky News, The Economist, El País and a host of other media sites).
The journalist-run XNet (here) in a book titled ‘#FAKE YOU – Fake News y Desinformación’, includes an exhaustive list of articles from the media and universities on the broad subject of media manipulation and fake news. These include ‘Troops, Trolls and Troublemakers: A Global Inventory of Organized Social Media Manipulation’ (here), ‘Europe tries to fight hate, harassment, and fake news without killing free speech’ (here), ‘I Estudio Sobre el Impacto de las Fake News en España (here), ‘Bias, Bullshit and Lies Audience Perspectives on Low Trust in the Media’ (from Reuters and Oxford University here) and then there’s ‘A multi-dimensional approach to disinformation’ from the European Commission here. As the previous editor of El Mundo David Jiménez says: “The great failure of the press was to become part of the system that it was meant to be monitoring” (here).
News-sites provide an interpretation of news which suits their sponsors, advertisers and corporate owners (few news organisations make money from their own endeavours). Besides declining print editions (expensive to print and to distribute), which cost the reader a daily coin or two and have just one colour to their palette on a particular story, most media either have or simply are cyber-editions, sometimes with a pay-wall. The disadvantage being that, again, a subscription buys the reader a single colour from the journalist-du-jour while the pay-walled items themselves are un-shareable to others (which is why at BoT we don’t link to them). Providing news is expensive and time-consuming. It also hides at times corporative manipulation.
Some journalist-run news-sites have no corporate owners or advertising, relying on public subscription or contribution plans. Perhaps with ideological bias or a lack of funds to pay for on-the-spot reportage, and scarce funds for self-promotion, their impact remains relatively small.
From El Confidencial here: ‘Green light to the controversial ‘digital decree’ to intervene in the Internet, and how does it affect you? The Permanent Commission of Congress has just approved the law by royal decree that allows the Government to cut networks and communications for alterations of the «public order»’. Initially, it is introduced to put a spoke in the Catalonian secessionists’ wheel – it gives the government freedom to cut all communication and Internet services, without a judicial order, in any region of Spain.
From Público here: ‘The Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) has issued a fine of 50,000 euros to the extreme right-wing portal La Tribuna de Cartagena for making public the data and the image of the victim of the notorious La Manada rapists in an article titled ‘I don’t Believe You’ published on May 5, 2018, which called into question the version of the woman who was sexually assaulted in the San Fermines of 2016…’.
The Olive Press takes a swipe at its inferior rival here: ‘Opinion: ‘Stick to plagiarism and prostitutes, leave the actual journalism to real newspaper groups like ours’ When it comes to an issue as serious as killing pets improperly, fraud and worse, it takes a proper paper to understand the issues…’.
‘Dying animals, the smell of death and rot. It could be the description of a post-nuclear catastrophe, and it is certainly not the best slogan to attract tourists, but that is what happened in one of the most unique coastal enclaves in Spain, the Mar Menor, whose beaches were filled in October with thousands of eels, crustaceans and dying crabs. Why did the fish die? We ask Pedro Luengo, responsible for Ecologists in Action in Murcia, who sums it up in two words: excessive nutrients’… El Confidencial pulls no punches here.
‘Aside from advanced economies and Mediterranean climates that sustain long growing seasons, California, Spain and Australia share an intermittent feature that reshapes their overburdened water systems every time it rears its ugly head: drought…’. Introduction to an article from Courthouse News Service titled ‘Tale of Three Regions: study probes drought-forced change in water policies’.
La Ciencia y sus Demonios has an article about the disappearing glaciers in the Pyrenees here. Climate Change (or ‘Global Warming’) is responsible.
Around 12,000 square kilometres of Spain’s territory are ‘at risk of flooding’ says experts from the Dominio Hidráulico Público, and it will only get worse. Logging, erosion, rising sea-levels (Huelva, Cádiz and Bilbao are mentioned), climate change, stronger storms, the gota fría and so on… The story is at ElDiario.es here.
Meet Spain’s seven carnivorous plants at JardineriaOn here.
Jaén has the largest man-made forest in the world: 64 million olive trees (January 2016).
Over 5,500 Barceloneses have taken up the offer to scrap their cars in favour of a free public transport card throughout the metropolitan area, good for three years says ElDiario.es here.
Are we destroying Paradise Island, asks BBC World. A documentary about Ibiza is at Noudiari.es, with the article and trailer here.
Muslims and evangelicals will ask the new government for a box like the Catholic Church’s in the IRPF tax return says Religión Digital here. It seems unlikely, says the article primly.
The ex-president Rodríguez Zapatero says of Bolivia: “we must not be silent about a coup d’état”. So far, most everyone has been very quiet.
‘Is the Spanish coast littered with single-use ‘narco-submarines’? After the first drug-laden submersible ever caught in European waters was seized on Sunday, police are wondering whether there are more such vessels at the bottom of the sea’ From El País in English here.
Eye on Spain takes us to the saffron harvest in La Mancha here.
‘90 km/h speed cameras branded ‘illegal’ after motoring association reveals law allowing cars to break speed limit when overtaking. The Reglamento General de Circulación Art. 51 allow drivers to travel up to 20km/h over the speed limit when overtaking’. A useful to know – item at The Olive Press here.
‘Why cancer patients in Spain are changing address to stay alive’. Item from The Local.
A Spanish gadget is available that reduces the alcohol content of your favourite wine to a preferred level. What will they think of next?
Amazon has lots of General Franco goodies for sale here says Moncloa.com here.
National Geographic brings us ‘Five iconic treasures of the historic architecture of Spain (en castellano) here, and, in English, ‘Thousands of People Live in These Ancient Spanish Caves. The Sacromonte and Guadix caves in Granada have been occupied for centuries. See what life there is like today’. Here. Both articles are lavishly illustrated.
Flikr photos of Mallorca here.
Turismo de Extremadura has made a promotional clip for the region – with photos from numerous other places downloaded from an image bank. The video and story are here. Despite this, Extremadura is a great place to visit (here).
Quiero asegurarle que me gusta mucho su columna, que es muy buena y que personalmente me encanta leerla con mucha atención cada semana.
Le envío un cordial saludo.
Joaquín Reyes is Boris Johnson. ‘Hola Europeos de mierda’. A funny video from LaSexta.
Enviado por José Antonio Sierra