Business over Tapas: May 13 2021 

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

Lenox Napier¹

Editorial:

The 4M (as the recent election in the Comunidad de Madrid is known) threw all of the parties into disarray. The PP – which won so handsomely with Díaz Ayuso – is faced with a leader who barely used the party’s apparatus, preferring to campaign almost as an independent.  The question for the party is how can they capitalise on ‘ayusomanía’?

After all, the babe on the motorbike image won’t work in other parts of Spain.

The other question, with the collapse of Ciudadanos (and the PSOE) following from their failed night-of-the-long knives moción de censura in Murcia back in March and now the snap Madrid election, is to consider the advantages of a few more elections, to perhaps shake off the Vox and Ciudadanos partnerships and maybe steal a march on Sánchez’ plan to dump La Susanita in favour of Juan Espadas in Andalucía this summer.

These anticipated elections are stop-gaps, as there will still be fresh autonomous elections in the next cycle, as normal, in May or June of 2023.

The 4M was undoubtedly a disaster for the PSOE. An elderly (he’s 72) and ill-prepared Ángel Gabilondo was not an ideal candidate and the party was wrong-footed by the precipitate call for elections from Díaz Ayuso. Indeed, Gabilondo has said that he won’t take up his seat in the opposition ranks. Thus, the regional PSOE seeks a new leader.

The Vox held its own, despite the usual fog of malfeasance and racism which seem to be an integral part of this party. It was there before, it’s there now.

Podemos gained a few seats, but lost its leader, who reckons he’s been tarred as the wickedest man in Christendom for long enough.  Apparently, he’s moving into TV…

The Más Madrid did well, ending up as leader of the opposition. For what that’s worth. Their candidate Mónica García seems a good sort – tough and experienced.

And Ciudadanos? Well, as expected, they lost their deposit (English joke).

Will the efecto Ayuso bring forth further regional elections (Murcia, Castilla y León and Andalucía – regions held by the PP but in partnership with Vox and C’s)? Will the PP, with choice-looking polls, be persuaded that a general election would be a good thing – and could they swing it? (No, Ed.).

Housing:

Cinco Días says that the Costa del Sol remains ‘attractive for the foreign buyer’. Between Manilva in the west and Torremolinos in the east, enthuses the article, there are some 270 projects involving around 15,000 new homes.

ThinkSpain finds a ‘Costa del Sol company that builds luxury homes from discarded shipping containers’ here.

Tourism:

‘A blow to tourism: The United Kingdom leaves Spain out of the ‘green list’ of countries to travel in summer. The Government of Boris Johnson will facilitate the trip to territories such as Portugal, Gibraltar or Israel from next May 17’. El Español reports here. The recommendations will be reviewed every three weeks.

From Reuters here: ‘Spain plans to lift its requirement for Britons to present a negative coronavirus PCR test upon arrival from May 20, provided that the infection rate in Britain keeps declining, the Spanish tourism minister said on Tuesday. “It will allow the opening of the British market so they can come to Spain,” Reyes Maroto told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting, offering a glimmer of hope to the flagging tourism sector…’.

Spanish beaches have a record 615 Blue Flags for 2021.

From The Olive Press here: ‘The UK Government has introduced a ‘traffic light’ system categorizing travel rules for destinations across the world by assigning a level of red, amber or green to each country. Until May 17th, the UK has banned foreign travel for all but non-essential journeys but from that date new rules will apply under the system…’. Spain, unfortunately, didn’t make the grade, scoring an ‘Amber’, while Portugal and Gibraltar both earned a ‘Green’.

Finance:

‘Brussels improves the forecast for Spain: the economy will grow by 5.9% in 2021. The European Commission expects the country to return to its pre-pandemic level of gross domestic product by the end of 2022’. El Huff Post has the good news here.

From El País in English here: ‘The Spanish economy is showing signs of post-Covid recovery. Several data points suggest the country is beginning to bounce back after the devastating effects of the coronavirus crisis, but progress could be delayed by epidemiological and political setbacks’.

From The Corner: ‘“We will never again tell people that they have to tighten their belts”’. The article brings us: ‘Labour Minister Yolanda Díaz, whom Pablo Iglesias has designated as his successor in the (third) vice-presidency of the Government, has presented the plans for the labour reform she intends to push through before year-end…’.

Autonomous workers can look forward to paying a fairer monthly contribution to be based on real income as the Government plans on new legislation for the self-employed. It’ll be a while before this gets through though, says elDiario.es here.

ING España has lost a reported 40,000 clients after introducing commissions on standard current accounts.

From La Voz de Galicia here: ‘Over 95% of the wealth of the middle classes comes from inheritances’.

Politics:

‘The logic of Trumpism is different and the left still doesn’t get it. Neither does Pablo Casado if he believes that Ayuso’s victory in Madrid was a triumph for the PP’: Gerardo Tecé writing for ctxt here. Ayuso gets to govern the Madrid region until 2023 (Mind you, she would have governed until then even without the snap election).

The London School of Economics explains the Madrid elections here: ‘Madrid’s regional election: How we got here, what happened, and why it matters’.

LaSexta has an opinion poll on if an election was held today which gives the lead to the Partido Popular. PP: 27.3%; PSOE: 26.7%; Vox at 18.9% and UP at 7.9%.

Alarmingly, two senior PSOE politicians supported Ayuso in the Madrid election. They have now been expelled from the party. Ex-president of the Madrid Region Joaquín Leguina and the Basque politician Nicolás Redondo Terreros. A truculent Leguina says ‘if Sánchez throws me out, I’ll just return to the party once he’s gone’.

The Corner fondly hopes for ‘Early elections due to coalition exhaustion’ here. Conversely, Pedro Sánchez is looking at a general election for late 2023 says La Información here.

The June PSOE-Andalucía primaries to unseat Susana Díaz (or so the PSOE in Madrid hopes) have thrown up, besides the favoured candidate of the Mayor of Seville Juan Espadas, two other contenders: Luis Ángel Hierro and Manuel Pérez (here and here).

The tandem to follow after the departure of Pablo Iglesias, says elDiario.es, is Ione Belarra from Podemos y Yolanda Díaz (IU). Giles Tremlett at The Guardian looks at the huge impact of Pablo Iglesias in Spanish politics here: ‘…Iglesias has changed Spanish politics profoundly. Podemos was the first insurgent party to break up the longstanding and corrupt Socialist-PP duopoly. Ever since, both must often seek coalition partners wherever they try to govern…’.

‘Madrid’s Vox leader Rocío Monasterio finds it «inconsistent» that Casado asks for restrictions «after talking about freedom throughout the recent campaign»’. El Plural has the story here. (The extreme right notes the inconsistency in the PP – if not in themselves).

Four of the eighteen Ciudadanos councillors in the Corts Valencianes regional assembly (Wiki) have abandoned the party and moved to the ‘mixed group’ says elDiario.es here.

The UK’s hesitancy over allowing tourism to Spain? The Minister of Foreign Affairs Arancha González Laya blames Isabel Díaz Ayuso’s ‘Libertad’ program for Madrid. «Suddenly,» says Laya in a parliamentary outburst, «an autonomous community arrives with a president at the helm who says that what matters in this country is libertad – going out for beers, going to the bullfights, out and about whenever and wherever they want. What’s more, those who say that you have to respect social distance rules and that you have to be prudent and responsible are accused of being communists. And what happens is that the health results from that community, undoubtedly the worst in our country, count towards the average, the average that the British use to put Spain at ‘Amber’»…’. The story plus video is at El Mundo here.

El Coletas (Mr Ponytail) will now have to earn himself a new nickname. Pablo Iglesias, who left his active role in politics last week, has cut off his ponytail says El Huff Post here. Bullfighters traditionally cut off their queue when they retire from the profession. Iglesias looks rather ‘normal’ now…

Catalonia:

The independence parties are making a pig’s ear of the make-up of a viable government in Barcelona. From Catalan News here: ‘Support for Esquerra’s minority government not guaranteed as deadline looms’. There is little time left before, Gasp!, fresh elections must be called for the Catalonian Parlament (May 26th). La Voz de Galicia leads with ‘The war between Esquerra and Junts leads Catalonia to an electoral repetition in July’ (although, the three independence parties are now ‘redoubling’ their efforts to reach an agreement).

Western Sahara:

From the El Español newsletter: ‘The Polisario Front has recalled «the political and legal responsibility of Spain in the conflict in Western Sahara» after the criticism by the leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, regarding the presence in Logroño of the president of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Brahim Ghali, for health reasons. The Polisario insinuates in its statement that the Moroccan parties that attack the Government of Spain are the same ones that are claiming both Ceuta and Melilla’. The links are from El Español and La COPE.  The Moroccan Government has also stated that Brahim Ghali’s secretive presence in Spain will bring ‘consequences’.

El Español says that ‘The rearmament of Morocco and the Sahara threaten the territorial integrity of Spain, according to a report. Morocco has been able to take advantage of Trump and Netanyahu’s strategy for the Middle East (BoTs passim). The main loser of these geostrategic actions has been Spain’.

Europe:

A grim article from Sussex Bylines here: ‘Unsettled status – European citizens’ post-Brexit struggles’. It explains that ‘…In anticipation of Brexit, the British government decided to change the law so that even EU citizens already legally resident in the UK were forced to apply to a new Settlement Scheme (EU SS) to protect their residency in this country. If successful, they would be awarded either Settled or Pre-Settled Status; if their application was rejected, they would lose the right to stay here…’.

The return of… The Express here:

‘Brexit fury: Expats selling properties as staying in EU ‘not worth it’. Brexit is seeing many expats in Europe selling their properties as living in the EU is no longer «worth it»’.

The Coronavirus:

Following the end of the State of Alarm, many people took this to mean that it was time to party. From La Voz de Galicia here: ‘Experts warn: «There will be an explosion of cases, for sure, after the celebrations for the end of the State of Alarm»’. It adds: ‘Remember that Covid continues to kill a hundred people a day’. The Government’s expert Fernando Simón said «We do not know what to expect in the coming days. Before the weekend I would have said that the downward trend of the last twelve days would continue. There was a significant probability of not having a fourth wave. Right now I do not know. Indeed nobody knows what will happen in Spain – how many people are going to enter the ICU«’. The story is at El Español here.

‘The acting Minister of Justice, Interior and Victims (!) of the Community of Madrid, Enrique López, says he is not in favour of applying the curfew in the region because he considers that «thousands of inhabitants» cannot be obliged to stay home thanks to «hundreds of youths»’. The story is at ECD here.

‘Pedro Sánchez claims that Spain is «100 days away from achieving herd immunity»’ reports El Huff Post here (with video).

Crime:

‘Spain cracks down on a saffron crime ring, arresting seventeen in raid. Spanish authorities say that Iranian saffron was being misrepresented as coming from Spain.  For two years, Spanish authorities investigated a shadowy business network that allegedly used complex financial transactions, real estate purchases and front men to hide profits, while setting up secret warehouses where saffron would be weighed and sorted.

A key ingredient in paella, saffron is worth more than gold by weight. A single kilogram can cost more than $10,000, so disreputable dealers who boost their profits by mixing in flowers and stems are a perennial problem. But the crime ring that caught the eye of Spanish police allegedly went even further: It imported saffron from Iran and passed it off as the product of Spain’s largest saffron-growing region, La Mancha…’. From The Washington Post here.

Media:

The power of the media – a video from Cuarto Poder on Vimeo here.

‘Ian Cutris’ writes that he is invited to join a Facebook page called Todos con Amancio Ortega. The page is not a cheap shot against Spain’s wealthiest person, no; it’s a… well, a glee-club really, with 97,000 members! (here). Posts abound on the site like this story taken from El Mundo from earlier this month: ‘Amancio Ortega earned today 646 million in dividends from Inditex, half of what he will receive this year’ which has received so far 2,300 likes and was shared 191 times (comments include ‘Muy Grande Don Amancio Ortega que Dios lo bendiga’ and ‘Se lo merece eso y mas’) and is mixed with homages from excitable readers (‘Toda mi Abmiracion para Amancio hortega. muy buena persona’  sic). The author says he lasted a week ‘in the largest and most dangerous sect in this country’ before he couldn’t bear it any longer. The alarming article is at Menéame here. To just thrash one point to death here – as the admirable Gerardo Tecé says on Twitter: ‘Cuando es un gesto anónimo se llama donación. Cuando lo anuncias por la tele es promoción’.

The far-right propagandist Alvise Pérez is already crafting bulos against the senior UP politician Yolanda Díaz says Spanish Revolution here. Alvise Pérez has it easy. A recent judgement against his online store from the Data Protection Agency for allowing private information to be shared, let him off without a fine says elDiario.es here.  The phenomenon of fake news and manipulation on social media is examined at Sputnik here.

Interesting – how to fight fire with fire? Join the ranks of TV chat-shows. Pablo Iglesias is looking to start a TV show to compete with the likes of Ana Rosa, Vicente Vallés and Carlos Herrera says El Español here. A Podemos-made video looks at those who tell fibs on the TV here.

Ecology:

The Andalucía Bird Society says here that all those olive trees in Jaén aren’t good for the local fauna and flora. There are some convincing photos.

Various:

‘José Antonio Sierra, the teacher who challenged the Franco regime to bring the Galician language to Ireland. In the early 1970s, this man from Avila got the support of the Franco regime to create a centre for Spanish studies in Dublin. Still in the midst of dictatorship, he decided to expand the offer with Galician, Catalan and Basque, a plan that would provoke «reluctance» in Madrid’. Galicia Confidencial speaks with José Antonio here (Galego). (Nota: José Antonio is the press consultant for Business over Tapas).

The Minister for Equality is Irene Montero, who sometimes takes the misuse of castellano a step further than it technically necessary. While the RAE (the Spanish Royal Academy) shudders gently at the modern usage of ‘los desdoblamientos’ (redundancies) such as compañeros y compañeras (the masculine form in Spanish supposes a gender-neutral meaning), the use of the repetitions with the two endings has become popular, at least, in politics. No one left behind and so on. However, to acknowledge the feelings of the LGBTIQ+ community and its supporters, the minister was recently heard to use in a speech various tripletes, such as “Buenas tardes a todos, todas y todes” and perhaps rather more disturbing,  “hay un niño, una niña y un niñe”, amongst other examples. A XVII century Jesuit called Baltasar Gracián (Wiki) coined an aphorism on speechifying when he said ‘lo breve, si bueno, dos veces bueno. Y, si malo, menos malo’: Roughly, ‘brevity, if good, then twice so. Bad, then only half so’. Some of the foregoing comes from a blog called Honestidad Radical here (thanks to José Antonio for sending this).

From ECD here: ‘Tangier restores its bullring, one of the six still standing on the African continent. In a state of abandonment since 1970, it will now host musical and theatrical shows. The Spanish Teatro Cervantes will also be rehabilitated’.

From The National Interest, an absorbing article on the Spanish-American war.

Watch out for new urban speed-limits – essentially, now 30kph (down from 50kph) in one-lane streets. Elsewhere, we read that 80% of all streets are now 30kph zones (with video).

Just saying: 30kph = 18.6mph! On a motorbike, you’d probably fall off.  

Barcelona needs a cricket pitch says a group of immigrant women here. Indeed they do.

The Government appears to have pulled away from the proposal to charge tolls on major roads from 2024 says LaSexta here.

A jolly car made in Nerja: the old Messerschmitt three-wheeler (Elvis drove one) has been reborn by some German engineers on the Costa del Sol as the Messerschmitt KR-202 Sport and is now for sale in two versions: electric and gasoline. Details at Axarquiaplus here.

See Spain:

It might be fun to visit the inside of a palace, says El Mundo here. The article lists a few open to the public.

‘Every year since 2018 inclusive, Escapada Rural magazine chooses a Tourism Capital…’, says ThinkSpain. The ten choices for 2021 are listed for our viewing here.

Finally:

Basque pop with Huntza performing Aldapan Gora on YouTube

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Licenciado en Filosofía y Letras, Magisterio y Estudios en la Escuela Oficial de Periodismo de Madrid. Residente 40 años en Francia, Reino Unido e Irlanda como profesor de español. En Irlanda fundó el Centró Español de Documentación y el Instituto Cultural Español, actual Instituto Cervantes de Dublín. Asímismo, fue corresponsal de: Agencia EFE, Diario Informaciones, Carta de España, Crónicas de la Emigración, España Exterior, La Región Internacional y Escuela Española. Jubilado.

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