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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September 29 2022 Nº 464
There has now been a pronunciamento on the subject of the vote for British residents in Spain for the municipal elections (See bottom of this bulletin).
One of the many joys of the Brexit meant that the British residents in the EU lost a number of privileges, without apparently gaining anything much in return. One loss was The Vote in the European elections (not that any MEP ever spoke for the foreign residents), and another was our switch from ‘ciudadanos comunitarios’ to ‘residentes extranjeros’ with our snappy new TIE card. Those without them only being allowed in the Schengen area for ninety out of 180 days, regardless of property-ownership. Indeed, we TIE-owners can stay in Spain, but we can’t spend more than 90/180 days elsewhere in the EU either.
We became, with Brexit, something less.
The municipal elections have always been of more interest than any other one – since one vote has little sway in a national or regional poll, but in a municipality with mere thousands (or maybe just hundreds) of voters, your word counts for something.
Despite the ruling from the European Court of Justice following a case in France, it appears that the Spanish/British bilateral agreement on (at least) local voting rights remains firm, if with a few extra formalities to undergo.
These include having to prove you have been a resident in Spain for more than three years (alas, your TIE card makes no mention of your antiquity) and to claim your right to vote (for next May 28th local elections) sometime over the Christmas season. The Election Board (INE) should be mailing out a card soon to the British residents showing our seniority – a proof we will need to show when we register at the town hall.
As to whether one can still join a local party-list as a Brit – a British resident who is also currently a councillor says that ‘Yes, we can. Unlike other non-EU nationals, a Brit can still be placed on a voting-list’.
The Spanish/British bilateral accord on voting rights post Brexit from January 2019 is here.
For other nationalities, resident in Spain, there are three alternatives.
-EU citizens can vote in European and local elections, and stand as candidates.
-Certain other nationalities can vote in local elections. The countries with an agreement with Spain (apart from the UK) are Bolivia, Cape Verde, Colombia, Korea, Chile, Ecuador, Iceland, Norway, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru and (for some reason) Trinidad and Tobago.
-Nationals from anywhere else can’t vote (such as… Moroccans, Brazilians, Argentinians, Venezuelans or Canadians…).
In a municipality, everyone over 18 should have the vote, as a town hall must represent all of its citizens, not just the ones with the right paperwork. Otherwise, which bit of land will get re-zoned, or who will receive preference in some local project or engagement?
(We are reminded that many Spanish voters, resident elsewhere, opt to maintain their name on the local padrón and vote in consequence).
In our experience, not many British residents voted in earlier elections, and the likelihood is that, with these fresh impediments, even fewer will bother this time.
From Spanish Property Insight here: ‘Is it possible to buy or sell Spanish property from the UK and in pounds?’
From elDairio.es here: ‘Everything returns to normal in tourism after the Covid years except for prices, which have risen by 16% since 2019. Hotel rates have grown in all the autonomous communities led by Andalucía (18.5%), Asturias (23%) and the Balearic Islands (17.3%)’. The average hotel-stay remained static at 3.5 nights…
From The Guardian here: ‘Spain plans a ‘digital nomad’ visa scheme to attract remote workers. The scheme includes tax breaks and gives Britons and other non-EU citizens the chance to stay up to five years’. (See Tourism BoT 462 for an essay on this – or here)
From Sur in English here: ‘The Spanish minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, José Manuel Albares, and his Moroccan counterpart, Naser Burita, agreed on Wednesday, 21 September, that the customs posts in Melilla and Ceuta (where a new one will be installed) will open “during January”…’
From The Olive Press here: ‘Spain looks to pass a new temporary wealth tax to help fight inflation after the Ukraine war. Spain’s left-wing coalition government is hoping to slap a two-year tax on the richest 1% of the population by next year to fight inflation, its treasury minister announced last week…’. It’s clear that we need some help to get through the coming lean period and taxing the rich might be a place to start. More down to earth, 20Minutos reports on some home economies as recommended by the Minister of Ecology: ‘Take a shower better than a bath, set your hot water to 35 degrees and turn off the fridge on vacation: Teresa Ribera’s requests to households to save’.
A curious collection of graphics shows how the wealthiest in Spain pay less than their (supposed) share of IRPF income tax. elDiario.es has the story here.
The supermarkets who have put their prices up the most in the past year. Mercadona and Dia says the Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios as quoted by El Salto Diario here.
A remarkable piece here from Spanish News, suggesting that the tax-cuts for the wealthy implemented in PP-run autonomies are designed to stymie the government. ‘…any decrease in the amount of taxes collected will have a knock-on effect … which is exactly what the PP is banking on. If the PSOE doesn’t have enough money to deliver their highfalutin ideas, they will end up with egg on their face…’ In counterbalance to the PP-run communities, the President of the Valencia Region Ximo Puig announced on Tuesday that his government would be lowering income tax (IRPF) only for ‘those with incomes of under 60,000€ per year’ (that’s to say, 97% of all Valencian contributors).
Lowering taxes is a vote-catcher, no doubt. From La Voz de Galicia here: ‘Neither the tax on energy companies nor on the banks nor on the most wealthy. Logically those who have to pay them don’t like them, but neither do the PP, who can always find something wrong with them. These taxes won’t help much, they say, as very little money will be raised, and they’ll only harm the creation of employment and investment. However, it merely seems reasonable to make a decent profit (and they do) during a crisis that brutally hits the ordinary citizens, especially the most vulnerable. For the right, the solution to all problems is lower taxes, lower taxes and lower taxes. (That’s what Rajoy demanded when he was in the opposition and then he went and raised them all). Otherwise eliminate them, such as occured in Madrid, Andalucía or Murcia, which are, as it happens, precisely the communities in Spain with the least investment in health and education…’ See, then they ask Central Government for more money to cover the basic services and, if that is not forthcoming – well, whose fault is that?
ECD tells of a plot to oust Pedro Sánchez in favour of the PSOE baron Emiliano García-Page, the president of Castilla-La Mancha (Wiki), with the support of Felipe González. This will happen, says the article, following the next General Elections (in the event that the Government falls).
The PP and Vox leaders Alberto Núñez Feijóo and Santiago Abascal met secretly last week according to El Huff Post here. Just for a chat, of course. No photos, understandably.
Is Vox beginning to implode, asks El Huff Post here. Their candidate for the Andalucía elections, who lost a possible juicy partnership in the regional government after the PP-A won outright last summer, left and then attempted to rejoin Vox, but was rebuffed by Santiago Abascal last week. The article says ‘Low hours for Vox. The murky exit of Macarena Olona, full of reproaches, threats and slights, has brought to notice the seams of a party accused of a lack of internal democracy and bearing a weak structure. Olona departs through the back door warning her former colleagues that she is willing to create a new political formation that would bring together the many disenchanted Voxxers…’. From Moncloa here, the replacement for Ms Olona in the party leadership could be the erstwhile spokesperson for Pablo Casado’s PP, the long-necked Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo.
One area where Vox might pick up some support says ECD here is from within the Spanish military. No kidding!
The British Pound appears to be tanking against the Dollar (and, less dramatically, against the Euro). Today’s rate exchange is here.
BBC News here: ‘Italian elections: Meloni gets to work on picking right-wing government’.
Theories over the responsible party for the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline abound, says NiusDiario here, but, as it points out, the Russians had already shut off the gas at source anyway. Another article here suggests that the culprit was Putin himself – to thwart any future plan to remove him in a palace coup and make peace… Mind you, the CIA blew up a Siberian natural gas pipeline in 1982 says the Washington Post here…
The campaign for our next covid and flu jabs are listed by region at Onda Cero here.
‘José Manuel Pérez Tornero, president of RTVE, has resigned following strong criticism from within the company on the grounds that his plan for RTVE is “not viable right now”. Tornero has been at the helm of RTVE since March 2021 when he was appointed by Parliament…’. Item from Advanced Television here. The article adds: ‘Over the last few months, his management has been challenged by the board of directors and the content and news divisions. As a result, several high rankers at RTVE resigned or were dismissed, whilst the TV group increasingly attracted fewer viewers (just 8.1 per cent of audience average on La Primera in August). We are reminded that the commercial TV stations in Spain are all owned by large multinationals with their own agendas (see Wiki). El Huff Post reports Pablo Iglesias (the founder of Podemos) as being pleased to see him go, telling a radio audience at Cadena Ser that “I think it is wonderful news that this man who is so right-wing is no longer in charge of Spanish Television and let’s see if we hopefully approach a more plural and more democratic television in the future”. The new president, announced on Tuesday, is TV journalist Elena Sánchez.
From El Independiente here: ‘Joseph Oughourlian, president of Grupo Prisa, has admitted for the first time that the media that make up the conglomerate (El País newspaper and radio Cadena Ser), had attempted to change to a right-wing editorial line, but that it did not work and they were obliged to rectify. “We wanted to be on the right, but we had to go back to the left because we didn’t get the expected results,” he said at a seminar organized by the New Economy Forum. In turn, the leader of Amber Capital insisted that “almost all the media in Spain are right-wing”, while their products are among the few that defend the left….’
An interesting article at La Marea looks at the conclusions of the professor of information at the University of Seville Aurora Labio-Bernal. Since its beginnings in 2014, ‘there has been a clear intention within the media to portray Podemos as the very axis of evil’. She bases her analysis on a careful study of the two leading newspapers for the right and the left: ABC and El País.
‘Catalan News revamps its website with new sections and tags for hot topics’. Huh! Unfortunately, I can’t open it…
A Spanish invention, aero-generators without blades (the specially-shaped mast vibrates in the wind, providing energy), are now being commercially sold says Información here.
From Think Spain here: ‘One of south-eastern Spain’s most unusual and popular coastal enclaves is the first to be given ‘legal personality’ in history – meaning it automatically has ‘rights’ at law. The aim is to ensure the Mar Menor enjoys the ‘fundamental right’ to conservation and protection, and its status has been approved by the Senate following a petition started two years ago that has gathered over 600,000 signatures…’
Spain is now ranked behind the Netherlands and Germany as the country with the third highest rate of electricity coming from solar energy says EuroNews here.
For various peculiar reasons (here), La Línea de la Concepción (Cádiz) wants to secede from Andalucía and set up its own regional government. The mayor’s plan is to hold a local referendum, and he complains that he has sent several missives to both the Junta de Andalucía and the government in Madrid but has received no answer. Cartagena is another city that wants independence (from Murcia). After all, they managed it once, back in 1873.
The Guardia Civil, in a jovial mood, say that they will accept any complaints against horrid versions of the saintly paella. For example, with pineapple! Yarrrggh! Or chorizo. But who would do such a thing? Los extranjeros of course! The story at Gastronomía here.
Public transport (metro, bus, tram) will be free in the Valencian region from October 9th until the end of the year for the under-30s.
‘Ukrainian families find peace on the Costa Tropical. The families are living in a refuge run by the San Juan de Dios foundation in the coastal village of Calahonda, in Granada province’: Sur in English reports here.
‘Is teaching English in Spain for losers? A former teacher speaks!’ The Chorizo Chronicles has the experience and the low-down here. ‘I came to Spain about 18 years ago. Young, greasy-haired, and blaming “capitalism” for most of my problems, I guess you could say I was a bit of a loser. I also wasn’t much of a hard worker…’
An old sketch of mine of the Mojácar social life back in 1967 here.
Some superb photos of Spain from Bored Panda here (although I’m becoming a bit tired of seeing Nº 6 so often lately).
Habanera from Carmen with Anna Caterina Antonacci & Jonas Kaufmann at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 2006 on YouTube here.
VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR UK RESIDENTS…
As the 28th of May 2023 Local Municipal Elections draw nearer and in order to compile the electoral census of foreign national’s resident in Spain the National institute of Statistics will be issuing guidelines as to the conditions to be able to cast your vote.
Now, before we even start, it is VERY IMPORTANT to point out this effects EVERYONE who is British, even if you’ve lived here 20 years and voted in previous local elections.
As the result of BREXIT we have lost our EU status and for the FIRST TIME EVER the United Kingdom is now in the section of “Countries with reciprocal agreements”.
We are in a new category and this means a completely new process from what we have had to do before.
What do we know so far?
It looks like there will be a VERY SHORT timeframe in which we can register our intention to exercise our right to vote in the local elections.
Starting from the 1st December 2022 to the 15th January 2023 – This is very short period considering Christmas etc.
The requirements to have the right to vote:
Over the age of 18.
Registered on the Padrón.
Must have been a Legal Resident (have had residencia) for at least THREE YEARS prior to the registration. This would wipe out those that became residents after Brexit, it will also wipe out a lot that already lived here, possibly even voted before, but were not actual holders of a residencia document and only obtained it in the Brexit rush. Basically what we are saying is that if you were not a legal resident in 2019 or before you probably can’t vote.
Now proving these THREE years is where things could get complicated.
From the information we have received, there could be a requirement to have to supply a Police Certificate from the Oficina de Extranjeria that states the date you obtained your residencia. Consider many Brits had a “Green” resident Certificate that clearly showed both the date you became resident and also the date of issue, however with Brexit they obtained a TIE card, this does not show your “antiquity” as a resident and none were issued to Brit’s prior to mid-2020 so will not suffice to prove being resident for the THREE YEAR requirement.
If you meet the requirements you will have to REGISTER at your Town Hall within the stated time frame – 1st December to 15th January.
To help with this process the Census Office will be sending out a card, by post, to those Residents that meet the criterion based on the combined information the National Institute of Statistics can obtain from the Central Register of Foreigners – Residency Records and the Town Hall – Padrón Register. If you receive your Card keep it safe and USE it to REGISTER, receiving the card does not mean you can Vote it means you meet the criterion to vote, you still must REGISTER. With the card you can register by post, at your Town hall with your identification documents (Passport/TIE) or over the internet with “FIRMA DIGITAL or CLAVE” or even without using the Code that will be on the card and your NIE number.
A ray of hope for those that do not receive the card but know they meet the criterion, from December with your “FIRMA DIGITAL or CLAVE” you may be able to register your intent through the INE – National Institute of Statistics’ web page under inscription application.
“Solicitud de inscripción” Sede Electrónica del INE at https://sede.ine.gob.es
Another (useful) page: https://www.interior.gob.es/opencms/es/servicios-al-ciudadano/brexit/
Legal Rules that apply:
Order EHA/2264/2010, of 20 July, by which rules and technical instructions are issued for the formation of the electoral census of residents in Spain who are nationals of countries with Agreements for municipal elections, modified by Order ECC/1758/2014, of 23 September.
Resolution of 27 October 2014, of the Electoral Census Office, which establishes the procedures and approves the application form for registration in the electoral census of residents in Spain of nationals of countries with agreements for municipal elections.
As of the date of this communication, the Ministerial Order amending the previous Order is being processed to include the United Kingdom in the list of countries with an Agreement signed with Spain and the amendment of the previous Resolution is pending to include the requirements of the Agreement with the United Kingdom in the annex, an amendment that cannot begin until the new Ministerial Order is published.
My recommendation if you want to vote:
Check the information we have so far.
The ministerial order that will include the UK could vary or clarify what we know today.
– Check residency date more than 3 years.
– Check Padrón status.
– Register between 1st December and 15th January
– From end of November receive a “card” in the post with your name / details – use it, don’t bin it.
Special Note for the Brits that became or chose to use their Irish Citizenship or any other EU citizenship, except Spanish, as a result of Brexit. YOU MUST ALSO RE-REGISTER as an EU citizen voter with the EU voting process and under the easier terms/conditions.
Some of us can get lazy with this type of stuff, some think “we are just foreigners etc.”
NO, no and no. You are living here; you are affected by the outcome of the elections in the Town you now call home. Get up and make yourself heard and this means voting, whatever your preference, and if to vote you need to go a little out of your way – do it.
Arguing on behalf of someone that doesn’t show is much harder.
Source. Lucas Mayo.
Councillor in Mojácar Town Hall.