Business Over Tapas nº 445

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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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May 12 2022            Nº 445

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editorial:

 

The Andalusian elections are coming around, a little earlier than anticipated, to cash in on the rise in support for the Partido Popular after its latest defenestration – as the penny finally dropped that the party leader Pablo Casado was a liability whilst the new leader, the unpronounceable Alberto Núñez Feijóo, was a far surer bet.

The Junta de Andalucia, the regional government based firmly in Seville, is led by the capable Juanma Moreno, who currently rules the region with the support of Ciudadanos (and the blessing of Vox). He is looked on as a moderate conservative. Before Juanma won the election in December 2018, the region had been run by the PSOE-A for forty years, and corruption, nepotism, and the other sins of government were much in evidence, indeed, two of the three socialist presidents – Manuel Chaves and José Antonio Griñán – are now awaiting confirmation of their sentences for a slew of misdeeds, led by the ERE Inquiry.

Facing Juanma Moreno PP – the certain winner short of a surprise – we find the new and improved PSOE-A led by the ex-mayor of Seville, Juan Espadas (wiki), who seems a decent sort (although, as the regional minister for housing from 2010 to 2013, he may be remembered without pleasure by those who suffered with ‘illegal properties’). Whether he is capable of bringing back home the vote is probably unlikely. The reason is that many ordinary socialists have switched either into the Podemos fraternity, or, in Andalucía, into the magic of the Vox party, which provides a type of politics which always looks good to those at the bottom: racism, flag-waving and cant.

Thus today, Vox can count on 15% of the vote. Their candidate is Mercedes Olona who is – as Wiki says – ‘known for her virulent criticism of the government of Pedro Sánchez, accusing it of “genocide” for its management of the Covid-19 pandemic or of wanting to impose the Venezuelan “chavist model” in Spain. She favours the establishment of a government of “national salvation” involving the army. She is opposed to laws on LGBT or gender violence’. A handful indeed.

The Ciudadanos party are without doubt washed up, and their 21 seats will likely be reduced to one or maybe two. Juan Marín, the capable regional minister for tourism, is their candidate.

The other contender is inelegantly named Por Andalucía: the mishmash of Izquierda Unida, Más País, Podemos and other minnows. While the lefties eventually agreed on a coordinated candidature, to be headed up by the IU politician Inmaculada Nieto, the papers from Podemos were delivered ‘a few minutes late’ (sic) to the electoral commission and the upshot was that the Podemos contingent may not stand in the coalition and must go it alone, fracturing further the far-left (Well played chaps!).

The outcome for these regional elections on June 19th (where the 710,000 or so foreign residents of course may not vote) will likely leave the PP in the lead with somewhere around 50 seats and the PSOE-A with 32. Vox would be third with 17 and the Por Andalucía lefties with 10.

With a count of 55 needed to reach a majority, the PP will likely have to treat with Vox this time around. We wonder: what will be Vox’ price?

 

Housing:

 

‘Let’s say you bought the land a year ago, having done some of your homework on costs, mortgage, running costs, etc. You even got a quote for building the house. Now, you’ve all your ‘ducks in a row’, and ask the builder for a date to start. “Ah, señor, the costs are a little more than last year”…’ An article at Survey Spain called ‘Build Costs are Going through the Roof’.

 

Tourism:

 

How are the various regions of Spain doing since the pandemic? Those that rely on tourism, says El Mundo, not so well. ‘Spain is far from recovering the levels of her Gross Domestic Product from prior to the pandemic. The data from the INE shows that the Spanish economy has lagged behind with respect to the European recovery and, according to the Ministry of Economy, will not return to the point of origin, to 2019, until the first half of 2023. And within that delay, there are two communities that base their economy too much on tourism and that are especially off-track: the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands…’

 

From Sur in English here: ‘Europe recommends dropping mandatory use of masks on planes and at airports from 16 May. The recommendation will, however, remain in place when travelling to places where there is still a face mask requirement on public transport, as there currently is in Spain’.

 

The dreadful condition of Murcia’s Mar Menor is giving rise to major hotel cancelations in La Manga and other nearby resorts says EPE here.

 

A map of Spain’s 621 blue flag beaches at LaSexta here.

 

The Nomad Today says: ‘’Tourist, go home’: Why Spain has a movement against mass tourism. Why are some people rejecting tourism, even when it is such an important source of income? The answer lies in the problems related to the massive arrival of visitors in some cities and neighbourhoods’.

 

Finance:

 

elDiario.es notes with satisfaction that ‘The Labour Reform has been highly successful in reducing temporary-contract work in Spain after four decades of misuse of the employment system. In April, 48% of the contracts signed were permanent, which translated into a record of almost 700,000 full-time contracts’.

 

Ten years ago, the Spanish banks were ‘rescued’ at what, said Luis de Guindos, the minister at the time, would not cost a penny to the Spanish tax-payer. El Confidencial (paywall removed) begins: ‘Just before noon on Monday, May 7, 2012, ten years ago, financial news shook Spanish society: Rodrigo Rato, who was credited with much of the success of the Spanish economic miracle, resigned as chairman of Bankia. His departure triggered a succession of events that would culminate in the rescue of practically half of the Spanish banking system…’ So far, we are 59,396 million euros out of pocket (as a few late results still need to be audited). The primary reason for the collapse was the banking greed surrounding the property market explosion of the first years of the century.

 

The Olive Press brings us the rules for financial advisers in Spain. The article warns of the cowboys associated with independent financial advice (many will offer investments which pay out hefty commissions). The EFPA here will know if yours adviser is fully competent to handle your savings and investments.

 

Politics:

 

The new president of the Partido Popular, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, is not a deputy in the Cortes – the Spanish parliament – and can therefore not participate in the highly charged debates in that chamber. To partially resolve this, the party has asked Senator Juan Serrano to stand down and allow Feijóo to take his place in the Senado. There, in the upper house, Feijóo will be able to enter into some occasional debates with President Sánchez. The rules are explained by El Huff Post here. The Cortes spokesperson for the PP remains the truculent secretary-general of the party Cuca Gamara (Wiki).

 

Álvaro Zancajo, a newscaster for Antena3, has quit his job to become campaign manager for Macarena Olona, the Vox candidate for Andalucía. Marca has the story here.

 

Catalonia:

 

Beyond the Pegasus spying issue, there is another thorn in Catalonia for the coming months: the forced re-introduction of castellano – the Spanish language – into Catalan schools. The regional government has been given two weeks to implement the order from Madrid to teach 25% of all classes in Spanish. To think that the Generalitat, the schools and the teachers are going to obey in just a fortnight is a bit naive.

 

……

Europe:

 

elDiario.es runs the sad story of the Brits in Spain affected by Brexit. ‘Shame, disappointment and the loss of rights: the effects of Brexit for Brits living in the EU. A survey by the universities of Lancaster and Birmingham shows the negative impact that the UK’s exit from the Union has had on the perception of that country by its own citizens’.

 

Health:

 

The Spanish national health system appears to be taking an increasingly small part of the medical pie compared to private health companies, says a report at elDiario.es here. Andalucía, says the article, is rapidly climbing the ranks of privitisation, led by Madrid, Barcelona, the Balearics and the Canaries.

 

There is now worries of a Seventh Wave of coronavirus in Spain says 20Minutos, with a sharp rise in reports of infections – despite some people using test-kits bought at the pharmacy and simply staying in bed for a few days. 60 year-olds and older are more at risk says the article.

 

Pegasus:

 

The Pegasus spying scandal appears to be moving in various directions, perhaps as it becomes plain to see that this program – we might even call it an app – is available and used by a number of government, agencies and who knows what.

The spying in the Spanish case seems to be down to three different areas – the first is a number of Catalonian independence politicians being spied on by the CNI, the secret service. The second would appear to be the Moroccan Government keeping an eye on several Spanish ministers (Fernando Grande-Marlaska, Margarita Robles) along with Pedro Sánchez last summer.

Then there is (or may be) a third string as the CNI only admitted to eighteen cases (all following a judicial review) while another 45 at least have been discovered.

On Tuesday, the head of the CNI was asked to stand down, in the hope, perhaps, that the Catalonians might be appeased and continue to support the Government (with the evident understanding that the PP/Vox combo would be far worse than any errors of judgement brought about by the PSOE).

The European Parliament says it is to send an investigatory mission to Spain to find out about the Pegasus scandal.

 

Courts:

 

To the surprise of the viewers of Telecinco’s Ana Rosa show (Spain’s answer to Fox and Friends) and some other similar infotainments, a supposed kick in the stomach by a left-wing leader of a fellow who only wanted a photograph a couple of years ago has been ruled by the judge as being a waste of the Court’s time. The politician in this case being Iñigo Errejón, the bespectacled twelve-year-old (jus’ kidding) from Más País.

 

The Supreme Court is divided over whether to allow the minister and vice-president Yolanda Díaz to attend the secret commission of the CNI following a complaint from Vox. In the end a 3-2 decision allowed her to participate. El Periódico has the story here.

 

Ecology:

 

The exceptional rains have gone and now we face a heat-wave. From EPE, we read that ‘Arid land skyrockets in two decades and leads to increasing desertification in Spain’. It says that ‘The semi-arid surface already accounts for 56% of the Spanish territory. The increase in aridity has been notable since 1961, and especially in the centre and south of the Valencian Community in the last two decades. In the same situation are Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura and the mountainous areas of Andalucía. Furthermore, Orense, Navarra, the central and western parts of Aragón, the eastern Pyrenees, Murcia and southern Almería all share the problem…’

 

Xataca has satellite photos of the Almería ‘sea of plastic’ taken from space over the past sixty years or so.

 

The Wonder of the Seas mega-cruise-liner is visiting Palma. As we can see from the photo at Diario de Mallorca here, not everyone is happy to receive this gigantic ship. ‘The new colossus from the Royal Caribbean pollutes “almost 10 times more than all the cars in Palma put together”, says the local Anti-Cruise Platform’.

 

A scientific magazine was chosen by Spanish biologists to promote their concern over state protection of feral cats which are fed and cared for by citizens. These colonies, say the biologists, cause a huge number of deaths among the local wildlife as even a well-fed cat with hunt and kill. 20Minutos has more here.

 

Various:

 

From Bloomberg (paywall) here: ‘CEO at Spain’s Top Utility Says Millions of Customers Are ‘Fools’ for Paying Full Price. High electricity prices in Spain are a problem only for ten million “fools” who have fixed-price contracts, according to the top executive of the country’s largest utility. “Only the fools who continue to use the regulated price set by the government” pay higher prices, said Iberdrola’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ignacio Sanchez…’ In remarks he may now regret.

 

The men who run the traffic department have come up with some life-saving ideas over the years. Mainly stupid ones, but there you go.

The latest one will cheer us up:

A proposal to lower the motorway speed limit from 120kph to 100kph.

It’ll save on the petrol during the Russian invasion of The Ukraine.

Now, about 1% of moving cars at any one time are doing 120kph. The rest are going at an average of about 25kph (street driving).

So cutting 20kph off the top end will save around 0.001% of Spain’s petrol consumption, while making sure that no one votes for this government ever again.

 

More people died from frontal collisions in April than the average accident rate, according to El Confidencial here, wondering if this might be the result of not being allowed to accelerate over the speed limit while overtaking.

 

Operation Mincemeat – the British plan to fool the Germans during WW2 (‘The man who never was’). Now they’ve made a film, says Visit-Andalucia here.

 

There are certain places in Spain to visit and feel at home for those nostalgic for the times of El Caudillo. The best of these bars and restaurants with some old-time decorations of Franco and Primo de Rivera are listed at El Mundo here. Perhaps there’s one near you.

 

‘The Senate has approved, with 144 votes in favour and 103 votes against, a motion that recognizes the responsibility of the Franco dictatorship in the bombing of Guernica (wiki) in April 1937 says InfoLibre here with the headline: ‘The PP refuses to recognize the responsibility of the Franco dictatorship in the bombing of Guernica’.

 

The Government is easing still further the abortion laws and says it will remove IVA from feminine hygiene products says LaSer here.

 

‘Breakfast on the Costa’, my take on la turismofóbia at Eye on Spain, here.

 

One evening in the local bar… a short clip at Reddit here. Sound on. (Wow!)

 

Letters:

 

Hi, Lenox

Big congrats on 444 issues.

Your coverage of the Pegasus spy scandal was especially thorough.

I never thought it’d come to this, even in our “defective democracy.”

Best wishes, Brett

 

Finally:

 

Soy Gitano with Camarón De La Isla (1950 – 1992) and Tomatito (1958) recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival 1991 on YouTube here. The two flamenco stars are interviewed on Spanish TV here.

 

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