Back in 1994, Felipe Gonzalez decreed that some of the foreigners in Spain – the EU residents plus the Norwegians – would be able to vote in both local and European elections. His Minister for the Presidency was the appalling Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba (he of the doomed European Residence Cards), who evidently worried that we Europeans would vote in a conservative way in the local elections. Thus, we were allowed in 1995 to vote only in the European elections, which of course had no impact. It wasn’t until 1999 that we were first able to vote in the elecciones municipales.
Where, of course, and no doubt much to Rubalcaba’s surprise, most of us didn’t bother.
In that local election in 1999, following a small change to the Spanish Constitution, we Europeans were even able to run for office. Few of us put down our names for this honour.
Sixteen years later, there are still very few extranjeros in local government, even with a handful of extra countries with bi-lateral voters agreements with Spain – perhaps for lack of will on the part of the immigrants themselves and perhaps, too, because the local Spanish would find it problematic to give us their vote. Still, there are a few in various town halls across Spain, which must be a healthy development.
An interesting part of the recent plan by the PSOE/Ciudadanos coalition is to give all foreign residents the right to vote (and stand for office) in local elections, and better still, we would all be automatically inscribed on the election roster. The coalition probably won’t make it into Government, but the idea is now on the table. A further notice to gather in the foreigners comes from a European study called Pathways to Power which bills itself as ‘The Political Representation of Citizens of Immigrant Origin in Seven European Democracies’. It seems that, in Spain, we have even less foreign immigrants in our governing bodies than is found in other European countries. El País in English carries the story and says that Spain comes out bottom of the list for integration in the analysis of European parliaments. Again, the subject is now in the open. Why is this important? Without representation, a citizen has no voice. Without full integration, a city is divided.
‘The Spanish economy is currently displaying stronger growth than most of its peers in Western Europe. The country has left the doldrums of its post-2008 economic misery, and its property sector has kept pace with the more general recovery. International core investors are once again turning their attention to Iberia…’. Found at Business Wire.
‘Demand for Spanish properties is growing significantly, with recovery in both the residential and commercial markets making Spain increasingly popular with domestic and international buyers. However, so far prices remain relatively low, and are failing to rise as fast as the growth in demand might lead you to expect…’. This one from NuWire.
The Finca Parcs in Hellín, Murcia, a failed urbanisation, gave birth in 2008 to an action group formed of investors who had lost deposits. BoT has been sent a lengthy press release which begins ‘Finca Parcs Action Group vs Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo (CAM bank) & Spanish property developer, Cleyton Ges sl. Finca Parcs Action Group – Lawsuit 2 Victory for the Finca Parcs Action Group with lawsuit 2 in the first instance court in Hellín. The sentence condemns Banco CAM (now Sabadell) & developer, Cleyton Ges sl, to return the off-plan deposits paid by the group members together with interest & legal costs…’. Anyone interested in reading the whole notice, contact BoT or Finca Parcs Action Group.
‘I wanted to do something on the economic crisis in Spain so I went to Murcia, in the south east, because it was one of the parts worst affected – especially by the property bubble. The idea was that construction would bring jobs, people, and money through tourism. Everyone was crazy about the building industry. Money was easily lent, land was cheap…’. An article from The Guardian finds out what went wrong for so many people.
A useful guide at El País shows all of the municipalities of Spain with their population densities. A town in Barcelona called La Florida has the highest density at 43,000 per sq kilometre.
Britain’s referendum on EU membership will take place on 23rd June 2016. Kyero has looked at what this could mean for the Spanish property market.
From The Daily Mail, we read that, with the increase in demand for Spanish holidays, following uncertainly in other resorts (Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia), ‘Families are being warned that summer holidays to Spain are more expensive than last year with experts urging people to book trips soon or face disappointment. The price rises come as interest in some destinations has crumbled with families looking to head to ‘safer’ Spain rather than countries in areas of the world caught close to conflict. … Meanwhile holidays across Europe are likely to be more costly due to the falling value of the pound against the euro. At the beginning of July last year, one pound would have bought around 1.41 euros. Today it would only buy 1.27 euros, thus holiday cash would not stretch as far…’. (Thanks John)
Tourism numbers continue to break records, with 3.5 million foreign visitors to Spain in January (up 11.2% over January 2015). An alarming 706,275 Britons visited Spain in January, up by 16.2% over the same period in 2015. Agent Travel enthuses here.
Who is going to pay for demolishing Spain’s most infamous hotel? The Junta de Andalucía or the State? More importantly, when and how much? Ideal says that it now appears that the builder of the Hotel Algarrobico will receive indemnity ‘but not the seventy million they are asking’, according to the Councillor for Medio Ambiente y Ordenación del Territorio from the Junta de Andalucía, José Fiscal (the same politician who wanted to build a bar and nick nack shop on the Playa Mónsul in the Cabo de Gata). It will be at least another year before demolition of the stricken hotel begins, says El Diario here.
‘The Spanish financial system received between 2009 and 2015 a ransom of more than 61,495 million euros in aid through the FROB (53,553,000€) and the Fondo de Garantía de Depósitos (7,942,000€) to avoid bankruptcy, according to the Banco de España. This cost to the taxpayer to bail out the banking sector could have been reduced to zero if there had been already in effect the resolution system that is now in use, and which aims to objectively determine which creditors would bear losses so that the rescue of these entities would be internal: a ‘bail in’ rather than a ‘bail out’…’. The story comes from Vozpópuli.
‘Investors took €70.2 billion out of Spain in 2015, according to new balance of payment figures published on Monday by the Bank of Spain. The amount lies in stark contrast to the €5.6 billion investors put into the country in 2014 – in December 2015 alone, the month in which the general election was held, €19 billion was taken out…’. From El País in English.
News from the Banco Santander, by El Confidencial: ‘Ana Botín has much work outside of Spain. Firstly, there’s the concern about the possible departure of the United Kingdom, where the Banco Santander gets a large part of its income from the European Union; coupled to serious problems for the bank in the United States. The US subsidiary of the Spanish financial group did not present its 2015 accounts this past Monday – an unusual event that could lead to unpredictable consequences, because the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has its balance currently under investigation…’. There’s a hole of 1800 million dollars apparently.
‘…Should no other party succeed in forming a coalition, as most political analysts expect, another election will be held this year. While the PP is still expected to win the most votes, opinion polls suggest it will again fail to gain a majority. According to a poll last week in right-wing newspaper El Mundo, the center-right party would actually lose votes and parliamentary seats, with many of those surveyed blaming corruption and Rajoy’s inability to cobble together a coalition…’. From a Reuters article on the corruption issues in the PP.
This week, there are debates in Parliament to form a government with PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez as president, with the support of Ciudadanos. The other leading parties have voted against this opportunity (130 against 219) and they will probably fail to abstain in a further vote to be held on Friday leaving things back where they were. Typically Spanish is following the events.
Released from prison after six and a half years, Arnaldo Otegi says he wants to be the ‘pre-candidate’ for Bildu in the next Basque regional elections – this is if he can break a sentence banning him from public office until 2021. El País reports. Otegi’s release from jail (on Tuesday) is reported by El País in English here.
‘A terrorist to some, an independence leader to others, Arnaldo Otegi has been in and out of Spanish courts and prisons for three decades for his links to ETA, the separatist group that has led a violent campaign for an independent Basque homeland…’. Otegi was released from prison on Tuesday. Story at The New York Times.
Susana Díaz was presenting medals in Seville during the Día de Andalucía (Sunday), while outside the venue, she was being booed by thousands of demonstrators, reports a left-wing unionist site called Tercera Información, saying that ‘mass unemployment, corruption, insecurity, evictions, repression, civil war memories … all this was reflected in the doors of the Teatro Maestranza while inside the medals were granted. The union organizers (SAT, CGT, CNT and USTEA) reminded Susana Diaz of ‘the failures of her painful management’ in the words of the national spokesman for the SAT, Oscar Reina…’.
If experience is worth anything, then the Irish election results – where, like Spain in December, nobody won, nobody lost – is going to lead to many months of wrangling as un-natural coalitions are mooted and discarded. The Irish Times searches for answers here.
The Guardian is disapproving of the Partido Popular, with an article headlined as ‘Adiós, Rajoy: Spaniards can’t stomach the stench of corruption in ruling party. As a poll shows 90% believe graft is endemic in the People’s party, voters are searching for someone to break the political deadlock’.
Much of the media in Spain leans towards one philosophy or the other, sometimes in a negative way. Here’s La Gaceta with ‘The PP publishes the list of corruption within the PSOE. 320 ex- and current public figures under investigation (of which, 162 in Andalucía) and 76 found guilty’. Another thousand with links to the PSOE are also under investigation.
In short ‘…y tú más…’ (‘Oh yeah? And waddabout you guys?’) is still a viable political defence against accusations of corruption in politics.
The ABC keeps up the pressure in Andalucía with another report on the ERE inquiry. ‘The judicial siege of the Junta de Andalucía involves almost 600 suspects and 4,316 million euros. Thirty Andalucian courts are investigating cases of irregular and uncontrolled management of public funds’.
In Palma de Mallorca, the entire local police appear to be under a cloud, with twelve of their members now in prison for ‘an orgy of corruption’ (Vozpópuli dixit). The police appear to have teamed up with the Hells Angels and other worthies in a bacchanalia of ‘protection, threats, and extortion worthy of Chicago in the Twenties’. Another fifty local cops are under investigation… Worth a read!
The Convent of Santa Lucia in Zaragoza was robbed back in late February 2011. The money taken, all in 500 euro notes, added up to one million two hundred thousand, and now, thanks to the rules, the as-yet-unidentified robber is home free: his crime prescribed by law.
The BoT is unashamedly in favour of the UK staying in the EU (if only because of personal and residential reasons). Here is ‘Five ways the EU benefits Brits in Spain’ from Viva.
From The Diplomat (en castellano) comes ‘The British Embassy encourages British residents in Spain to Register to Vote in the Referendum’. (Thanks Jake) and from Lenox’ The Entertainer Online comes a scary story of how ‘British people will not be able to live in Spain if the UK exits the EU, a minister has claimed…’. Hmmmn. Not very likely!
Another story sent by a reader, this time from Mica: The Guardian: ‘What would Brexit mean for everyday life in the UK? Much of the early debate in the EU referendum campaign has revolved around economics. And while no one can know precisely the impact of leaving the EU, it would be likely to have huge repercussions on many other aspects of UK life…’. And an article from the same source, dated August 2015: ‘I don’t want to be in no man’s land’: the ‘Brexit Brits’ seeking second passports. Across Europe British expats fear that if the UK leaves the European Union the lives they have built up abroad could be destroyed’.
Anyhow, according to this from The Brexit Door in an article called ‘Ex-pat Rights – Ignore the scare stories’, we have nothing to worry about.
Have you ever had trouble with the Spanish customs while trying to receive a package from abroad? Here is El País in English: ‘Why bringing your non-EU goods into Spain can be a major headache. People buying from foreign websites are increasingly coming up against pricey tariffs’. Many people ‘…are finding out that that online bargain can turn into a nightmare of delays, red tape and extra costs that eventually leads some people to simply cut their losses and abandon their dream purchase in a customs depot…’.
From Tercera Información: ‘Podemos says that the PSOE/Ciudadanos pact seeks to strengthen the ‘Ley Sinde’ (copyright laws) where they would dismiss the law’. Podemos says that ‘the law would allow the Ministry of Culture to close down offending web-pages’.
The wealthiest and poorest towns per capita in Spain at El País here. Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid) is the richest, at 70,300€ annual income per family; against the poorest, Torrevieja (Alicante), at 13,977€. All good stuff, though this information comes from INE figures which are suspect. The other ‘poorest’ towns in Spain are Fuengirola, Marbella, Torremolinos (all towns with a large non-registered migrant population) together with some seriously poor burgs like La Línea de la Concepción and Sanlúcar de Barrameda (both in Cádiz). When it comes to unemployment, La Línea (the frontier town to Gibraltar) returns with 40% and Sanlúcar with 42.3% unemployment.
The New York Times writes of the ‘crackdown on free speech in Europe’. Regarding Spain, it says: ‘…“This is the latest very serious attack on freedom of expression,” said Joaquím Bosch, a spokesman for Judges for Democracy, an association of about 600 judges that focuses on human rights. … Even at the height of ETA’s violent campaign, Mr. Bosch noted, the law forbidding the glorification of terrorism was used “about two or three times a year.” Last year, however, judges from Spain’s national court ruled on 25 such cases, absolving the defendants in only six of them. “The politicization of terrorism has been used as a smoke screen to deviate attention from social and corruption problems,” Mr. Bosch said…’.
The price of new AVE trains is always going up, says Renfe, who now buys them at 93 million euros each. In 2004, you could get one for 40 million, although the new ones have wifi… The company possesses 229 AVE trains. Story at El Diario here.
In Spanish Shilling, there’s a reprint of an article from The Olive Press on the saga of the Hotel Algarrobico, written by Lenox. See it here.
‘Navarra has become the first region in Spain to legalise cannabis consumption, putting the land-locked northern region on a par with the Dutch capital, Amsterdam. ‘Cannabis clubs’, where members can consume the drug without penalty of any description – provided those members were already regular users before joining – are now fully-regulated by the Navarran regional government…’. From Eye on Spain.
‘A Spanish Olympian has thrown this summer’s Rio Olympics into doubt. Windsurfing gold medalist Marina Alabau believes she contracted Zika while training in Brazil in December.
After coming down with a fever, Alabau who claimed gold at the London 2012 games, was diagnosed with Zika back in Spain…’. From The Olive Press.
‘Half a year after Barcelona launched a municipal plan to welcome refugees fleeing wars in places like Syria and Iraq, Spain’s second largest city is still waiting for them to arrive. “This fills us with rage,” Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, a former activist born out of the anti-austerity Indignados protest movement, told AFP…’. From The Local. So far (incredibly), just 18 refugees have managed to move to Spain.
A new plague has been found – attacking and killing pine trees in Spain. Not the processionary moth (which leaves the trees alive), but the tomicus destruens or pine shoot beetle. An alert here and information in Wiki here.