There’s a decidedly odd election coming up, on a Thursday, just four days before Christmas, between seven parties, of which one is led by a man in exile in Belgium and another by a man in prison in Madrid. Three of the parties are for an independent republic; three evenly balanced against them are the ‘constitutionalist’ parties (with Ciudadanos leading the pack), and there’s the odd-one out – the local version of Podemos, which, as The Local says here, ‘...the likely kingmaker according to the polls will be En Comu, the alliance made up by far-left party Podemos and Barcelona mayor Ada Colau, which according to the CIS poll would capture nine seats. The party opposes independence but backs a legally binding referendum on secession which Spain's central government deems unconstitutional...’.
On Tuesday, the day campaigning officially started, Spain dropped the international arrest warrant against Puigdemont (but only to ratchet up the pressure against him with stronger charges at home). ‘Puigdemont está kaput’ said Rajoy during the celebrations of Constitution Day, Wednesday. Puigdemont is meanwhile campaigning via video feed from Brussels, and he asks those who are against the imprisonment of Catalonian political leaders to wear yellow. The ERC, whose candidate Oriol Junqueras remains in jail in Madrid, is represented in meetings by another leader of the party – one who was recently returned to freedom after 33 days – called Carles Mundó. On the other hand, the largest – in public support – of the three ‘constitutionalist’ parties is Ciudadanos, whose regional leader Inés Arrimadas could wind up being the next president of the Generalitat. Who would be the most ‘popular’ leader? Well if you asked the recent poll organised by El Español, it would be Puigdemont followed by Arrimades.
The Government in Madrid, meanwhile, is warning of some ill-defined ‘cyber-attack’ against the Constitutionalist vote.
Elections, then, on December 21st, and as The Guardian says ‘...The campaign must unfold freely, lawfully and peacefully and the outcome must be respected’.
‘Residential property sales in Spain have recorded a robust rise of 8.6% in the 12 months to September with prices up 2.4% over the same period, according to the latest figures to be published. By property type, apartment sales went up by 7.7% and prices by 8.9% but new build sales fell by 1.9% while detached home sales saw an annual increase of 12%...’. From Property Wire here.
An interview with the British consul for Andalucía and the Canaries Charmaine Arbouin appears in Málaga Hoy. The title is ‘The British see it as safer to buy property in Spain before the Brexit’.
‘40% of Spanish landlords have had problems with tenants in their properties, according to a survey carried out by the insurance comparison company Acierto.com. Specifically, 22% of those interviewed said that they’d suffered damage to their properties, while 18% said they’d had to face different issues with their tenants...’. From Spanish Property Insight here.
‘There are still many buildings and complexes in Spain with a large number of homes, premises and parking spaces still in the hands of their developers. This situation is much more common in coastal resorts where there’s an abundance of holiday homes. In these cases, who should pay community fee debts when properties haven’t been sold?...’. From Spanish Property Insight here.
Almería Hoy is worried: ‘How can we solve the "alarming" depopulation of the interior of the province of Almería? Up to 50 towns in La Alpujarra, El Almanzora and Los Filabres run the risk of disappearing if things don’t change’. The answer is rather obvious: open these towns up to foreign settlers - but let’s just remember a date and an unresolved issue: Helen and Len Prior’s home was demolished ten years ago next January 8th 2018 (and, no, they haven’t received compensation as yet).
‘Know, raise awareness, manage and prevent the loneliness of older people: the key to reducing their negative consequences’. The title is from the useful Blog Envejecimiento
And the article notes that ‘22% of the elderly in Spain live alone – and two thirds of this total is women’.
Among a number of figures quoted by The Olive Press regarding international visitors to Spain this year, we found this one: ‘The number of Brits coming to Spain increased by 7.1% to more than 17 million Brits, almost one third of the whole population’. Amazing!
From El Diario: ‘Rajoy’s government has emptied 90% of the pension fund. The government pays a part of the extra (Christmas) pension from the loan of 6,000 million euros it requested last July plus other money from the Reserve Fund. Since closing highs of 2011 (66,815 million), the pension "piggy bank" has fallen to 8,095 million this December 2017, almost 90%. The idea of creating a specific tax or using existing taxes to pay pensions beyond contributions is now taking hold’. El Mundo claims that ‘the Government will need to seek a loan of 16,000 million euros to cover pension payouts for 2018’.
VozPópuli makes the point in an article about employment that part of the reason that unemployment rates have fallen is that there are 700,000 less people than there were in 2012 looking for a job.
What of sales through the Internet? According to Marketing Directo, Christmas-related online sales are expected to grow by 15% over 2016. The article is pleased to show why online buying is a great saver of time and bother.
‘Spanish banks have returned1,500 million euros in cash to more than 350,000 people affected by the floor clause, with whom the lenders reached an agreement after they filed a claim. This is according to figures presented by the banks at September 30, via the Commission which was set up last April to monitor the issue...’ From The Corner here.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Spain has special tax arrangements with 146 multinationals. Hacienda has since admitted the charge. More on this here.
‘Catalonia’s recent declaration of independence may have been a largely symbolic act but the economic hangover it has left in its wake is very real. Last month the number of unemployed in the region rose by 7,391 — the highest rise in a month of November since 2009. During the same period the number of people registered with social security fell by 4,038 — the sharpest fall since November 2013. The economic pain is already taking a psychological toll. According to a new poll published by Spain’s Center for Sociological Research (CIS for its Spanish acronym), the number of households that fear that their economic situation will worsen in the next six months surged from 14.2% in August to 22.2% in October. By contrast, in Spain as a whole there was hardly any change, with the rate barely budging from 15.1% to 15.6%...’. From Wolf Street here.
The Minister for the Economy Luis de Guindos is apparently likely to become the vice-president of the Central European Bank come next summer, with him now beginning to work towards that end. Thus, de Guindos will shortly leave his ministerial post in the Government, with the question as to who will be his substitute. El Mundo looks at the alternatives.
The Government is to legislate against the dissemination of ‘fake news’. (What, in political terms, is fake news?) From El Diario: ‘The national security strategy will now include a section to deal with fake news and the government intends to alert newspaper editors in the Congressional Defence Committee so that misinformation does not contaminate electoral processes, especially in the case of Catalonia. All of this is related to alleged Russian interference in the form of tweets or one-sided news that some newspapers claim come from shady figures within the Kremlin itself. No one in the government has yet explained exactly what these alleged attacks are or their real influence on supporting independence in Catalonia were, but the matter has now reached the Council of Ministers.... An opinion piece at El Diario begins: ‘Of course there is a battle against information, which is enormously damaging, but it is not being carried out by the networks and the Internet media. On the contrary, it is the authorities that want to control what we are told’.
From El País in English: ‘The waning power of Podemos and its leader Pablo Iglesias
anti-austerity party has been slipping in polls for months, partly due to its approach to Catalan separatism’. According to this, ‘...Surveys conducted by the pollster Metroscopia paint a similar picture: only 50% of Iglesias’ voters approve of the way he has been handling things. That is much worse than Sánchez (71%), Rajoy (85%) or Rivera (90%). And within his own Unidos Podemos, IU leader Alberto Garzón had an approval rating of 6.5%...’.
‘Spain's ruling Popular Party (PP) will stand trial for allegedly destroying laptops used by a former treasurer being tried over a suspected slush fund, a court ruling published on Friday said. It will be the first time that a political party goes on trial in the country. The National Court, which handles major criminal cases, slapped the order on Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative party, the November 30 ruling said. The PP, in power since December 2011 and headed by Rajoy for the past 13 years, is accused of having destroyed the hard drives of laptops belonging to its long-time former treasurer Luis Bárcenas at its Madrid headquarters before investigators had access to them. The hard drives may have had information about an alleged illegal funding racket within the PP...’. From The Local here. Some evidence apparently not to be given to a congressional inquiry... is available on the Cadena Ser website here.
A lawyer representing many unhappy franchisees of the DIA supermarket chain – those who had serious complaints against the company – has, uh, disappeared with both the claims and, more importantly, the loot. Económica Digital reveals all here.
Carles Mundó, another ERC leader, and one who was able to leave jail after paying a hefty ransom bail, will be doing the campaigning for Oriol Junqueras in the ERC as Oriol continues to languish in a Madrid prison cell. Is that ridiculous or what? El Mundo reports here. Staying in jail with Junqueras are Joaquim Forn (the ex-councillor for the interior), together with ‘the two Jordis’ – Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart (presidents of the citizens’ groups ANC and Ómnium respectively) – as the judge considers them to be connected to ‘the violence of the crime of rebellion’. El Mundo here. Jordi Cuixart pens an article called ‘I’m in prison for defending Catalonia’s rights’ in The Guardian here.
‘The Spanish National police have arrested around 50 people suspected of membership of a Georgian gang thought to be behind more than 100 home burglaries in Spain. The raids took place in the provinces of Madrid and Barcelona on Tuesday and targeted 25 properties, with further arrests expected to follow in Georgia...’. From EU-OCS here.
A group of twelve rap-artists called La Insurgencia were served with sentences of two years and a day (that extra day means they have to serve time in prison) for ‘celebrating terrorism’ in their songs. El Salto has the story here. The group has several songs on YouTube, but we ain’t linking to them!
‘Rajoy: “Brexit will not break our bonds with the UK”. The British prime minister Theresa May reiterated her support for her Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy on Tuesday over the Catalonian political crisis, and both said they hoped to see an agreement with the Brexit negotiations very soon...’. Rajoy had spent the day in London. From Think Spain here.
From El Iberico comes an item about how the number of Europeans immigrating to the UK has fallen steeply. One reason given is the apparent increase in xenophobia in the UK. The article notes that ‘...Many of these people who are leaving the UK, in the so-called ‘Brexodus', claim that they no longer feel welcome in the country, due to the increase in hate crimes and violence related to the referendum...’
From Sur in English – ‘Susana Díaz tells the EU to take into account Andalucía's special situation regarding Brexit. She expressed her concern about the economic impact on the region, which is the only one on the continent with a land border with the UK’. She also noted during her visit to Brussels last week ‘...the fact that 8,000 workers from Andalucía cross the border into Gibraltar every weekday, Britain is the biggest source market for tourism to the region and Andalucía is also home to a very large community of British residents, all factors which make the region unusual...’.
Mariano Rajoy writes in The Guardian about the links between the UK and Spain. He begins ‘The relationship between the UK and Spain is as old as the history of our two countries. We are bound by a friendship based on values which we still share today: freedom, democracy, the separation of powers and the rule of law...’.
From The Local: 'Brexpats' in Spain: Which group do you belong to? Spain is host to the largest number of British citizens living in the EU and although they will all be affected by Brexit in one way or another, it doesn't mean they have all reacted to the prospect of Britain quitting the EU in the same way. Check out how Brits in Spain are dividing over Brexit.
‘Libertad de Impresión’ is a documentary made against censorship. It is aimed at the Ley Mordaza: the ‘law of citizens’ security’. The full documentary is featured in an article on censorship at El Diario here.
Seven complaints by the CCOO against TVE’s news-program Informe Semanal and its loose use of the facts, here at VerTele.
The millionaire story of the disastrous desalination plants in the Valencian Community is told at El Confidencial. Four of them don’t work at all and a fifth is on ‘slow’.
A survey of European migration and the foreign-language media on the Costa del Sol is available from Málaga University. Please mention Business over Tapas if you fill this thing in. Here.
‘Spanish women have the third lowest fertility rate in Europe. New analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the birth rate among Spanish women is the third lowest in Europe at 1.33 children per family...’. From The Olive Press here.
Pseudo-therapies – they are advertised on the TV, in strange publications and, of course, on Facebook. Some practitioners make a lot of money off the credulous. El Mundo in a major article looks at the phenomenon here.
One of those videos... about how lots of men (four out of ten, apparently) seek out the services of prostitutes. It’s got a lot of ‘likes’, and a lot of ‘dislikes’. It’s on YouTube and it’s called ‘Hola Putero’. Creepy. El País looks at it here.
Spain’s ‘beautiful pueblos’ is a group of pueblos that have joined up under a commercial tourist-gathering enterprise. There are now 68 of them. See Lenox’ blog for more here.
From the Financial Times (pay wall): Letters page.
Sir, It is with regret that we note that citizens’ rights — the third pillar of the Brexit divorce settlement — have fallen off the political and media radar, including in this newspaper.
While we appreciate the high quality of the FT’s Brexit reporting, it is disappointing to see it accepting the EU and UK line that they are in “touching distance” of “shoring up” the rights of EU nationals living in the UK, and UK nationals living on the continent.
As representatives of the 4.5m people who will have to live with whatever compromise is negotiated on our behalf we strongly disagree that a deal is in sight. Not only has Brexit secretary David Davis failed to respond to our requests to meet us on numerous occasions, but both sides are still engaged in horse-trading over our futures, while pretending otherwise.
What’s on the table will not allow those directly affected by Brexit to carry on their lives as before, which Theresa May and Michel Barnier said is their objective. The main sticking points are freedom of movement for Britons in Europe and life-long right of return, and the UK’s insistence on dragging EU nationals in the UK into a hostile environment of UK immigration law without European Court of Justice oversight. We do not expect these issues to be resolved in the next two weeks, meaning they will be kicked into phase two of the talks, where they will almost certainly get lost amid others.
These are not trivial concerns. The lives people have built for themselves by exercising their EU citizenship rely on a bundle of interlinking rights, similar to the kind used to construct a tower in Jenga. If you remove just one block from the tower, it risks bringing the whole edifice crashing down.
Not having certainty or control over our futures is bad enough. But to be told a deal is imminent when we know it will be unworkable for many is unacceptable, particularly when it will also be used to talk up progress in comparison to other seemingly intractable issues.
Jane Golding, Chair, British in Europe
Nicolas Hatton, Chair, the3million
Just to say I don’t see much bias in your reports, always looking forward to the well-balanced diverse information about Spain.
If you also have a suggestion how to open the hyperlinks on a Mac? you would make me even more happy, maybe ask it in the group
kind regards, J.O.
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Business over Tapas December 7 2017 Nº 236
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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