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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December 15 2022 Nº 470
Whether the forthcoming election year of May (local and some regional) and (probably) December for the main event is still a long time off or not, the Government is busy proposing and passing laws before the Opposition can wrest control and return us to a happier, simpler time.
Santiago Abascal, over at Vox, is impatient. He has called for another motion of confidence in the Government, and he has the support of the ten deputies of Ciudadanos. Abascal has even found the ideal candidate to become the next president, a non-aligned (if staunchly conservative) deputy in the Cortes called Carlos García Adanero.
Alberto Núñez Feijóo from the PP says his party won’t join in the evidently doomed provocation, but in an interview this Sunday, he calls instead for an immediate general election.
One of the issues for Feijóo is the Government’s plan to finally stymie the long-running conservative embargo on a renovation of the CGPJ (and thus the Constitutional Court) by returning the system to promotion with a simple majority rather than the PP-preferred three-fifths superiority before judges can be voted in or removed from the General Council – in other words, the government of the judiciary: the third arm of democracy. The PP can count on nine judges within the CGPJ who are against fixing the issue. The Government, for its part, threatens those judges with contempt.
Another issue that bothers the Right is the ‘Only Yes Means Yes’ law (providing sexual rights and protection for women). Since the law determines prison time for non-consensual sex, some imprisoned rapists have retroactively found their sentences reduced.
Núñez Feijóo considers the current government to be ‘a Frankenstein partnership’ (the majority necessary for passage of laws means that the PSOE/UP coalition must rely on small regional parties, who, inevitably, have a price). The alternative to this, evidently, would be a PP/Vox coalition. Out of the frying pan, and, er, into the fire.
The ‘manipulation’ of the right-wing media – known in leftist circles as ‘la caverna’ (something like ‘the bunker’) – is used by The Establishment not only to reinforce the opinion of the converted, but also to confuse the unsure. A recent left-wing editorial says ‘The Government needs to govern, and not be pressured by one who seeks to block the renewal of the Judicial Power “to protect it” from the Government of Sánchez’.
Another says simply that ‘the legitimacy of a government comes from the ballot box’.
Strikes in the airports: ‘The CCOO union calls a strike at Spanish airports on December 22, 23, 30 and 31 and January 6 and 8’ here. ‘Air Nostrum pilots on strike at all its bases and workplaces. The 24-hour strikes have been scheduled for December 22, 23, 26, 27, 29 and 30, 2022 and January 2 and 3, 2023’ here. From Murcia Today here: ‘Around 10,000 airport staff all across Spain have been called to strike by the unions through the Christmas holidays and into the new year’. SVI says ‘Britons planning to reach Spain around Christmas to face chaos due to airport staff strike’. Check your travel plans for any updates.
(From last month, thanks Jake) ‘The Government of Spain approves the draft General Budget for 2023. The public accounts contain the largest social spending item in history to strengthen the welfare state. The Executive expects the economy to grow more than expected in 2022 and to remain above the average of the euro-zone’. From the Government’s La Moncloa site (in English) here. A second article dated Monday, ‘The General State Budget for 2023 passes its first reading in the Upper House by a large majority’, is here.
From El Confidencial here: ‘Spanish banks pay up to five times less for deposits than European banks. The entities are far behind the rise that is beginning to be seen in Europe, where a two-year average of 1.5% is already seen, compared to 0.3% in Spain’.
The Government is moving ahead with its plan to reduce the working week to four days says Magnet here. For the moment, the idea is to give grants to those small and medium-sized companies who move to the four-day week.
‘The PP leader Núñez Feijóo accepts that he can only govern with Vox and prepares a year of balance with the extreme right’ says elDiario.es here. ‘The PP weakly notes how the extreme right capitalizes on the harshest debates of sedition and independence, and recognizes that its catastrophic discourse has not quite caught on with the current economic figures although it intends to keep with it to convince the “moderate” supporters of the PSOE’. Whether those ‘moderate’ PSOE supporters would contemplate a PP/Vox government is another issue indeed.
The Corner is critical of the Government’s plan to renovate the rules surrounding the CGPJ and thus, it says ‘to complete the assault on the Constitutional Court’: The article begins: ‘The Government is preparing a plan B so that the two magistrates it has appointed to the Constitutional Court can take office even if the General Council of the Judiciary does not appoint its own. The measure would be implemented via amendments to the text of the reform of the Penal Code, according to PSOE sources…’
The Government is accelerating its proposals into law, with punishment for the misappropriation of public funds being one area which is attracting interest. The rule, a nod to the ERC party which is keenly interested in the subject, is to relieve harsh sentencing for those who use public funds towards other ends as long as there is/was no enrichment for either the politician involved or his friends and contacts. elDiario.es explains here. On the other hand, those public officials found guilty of unexplained wealth exceeding 250,000€ could be sent down for up to three years in proposed legislation. Some ‘friendly fire’ over the issue comes from Emiliano García Page, the PSOE president of Castilla-La Mancha: We read, ‘Page explodes against Sánchez: ‘”It is intolerable to agree with criminals on their own sentence”. The politician calls for a legislative initiative against illegal referendums and says that the “criminals” are not repentant, but marking their roadmap towards independence’. He is (understandably) thinking about the ramifications of the new rule for the imprisoned Catalan separatists. El Confidencial has the story here. From 20Minutos here: ‘The European People’s Party (PPE) has tried to bring to the debate in the Plenary Session of the European Parliament “the assaults that Pedro Sánchez is carrying out on Spain’s institutions and the Penal Code”. However, the European groups to which PSOE and Ciudadanos belong have prevented it from being included in the session that started this Monday in Strasbourg’. The PP of Spain is concerned about “the authoritarian drift” of the Government and says that they trusted that Europe would be the one to stop the reform that Sánchez proposes for the CGPJ.
Another project going through Parliament is the ‘Ley de Familias’ which will allow workers time off to attend to their families for health issues. Up to nine paid days off per year (to apply not only to married couples, but parejas de hecho – long-term relationships – as well).
The ‘Only Yes Means Yes’ law regarding sexual rights will have an addendum included to stop any early prison-release for rapists and abusers. Until its validation however, the Supreme Court has ruled that the law must follow the Sí es Sí guidelines, which in certain cases means a reduction in sentences already handed down.
Diario16 contrasts Isabel Ayuso with the more moderate Núñez Feijóo: ‘Isabel Díaz Ayuso already believes that she is Spain. Like that, bluntly, without half measures. The president of the Community of Madrid has already taken command in the Plaza del Partido Popular. She is the one who commands and her popularity will make everyone comply with her orders…’
The witty ERC leader Gabriel Rufián was asked about the anticipated moción de censura from Vox and answered ‘I have the highest regard for the motion of censure by Vox against the Partido Popular’. The motion is seen in certain quarters as a blow for the PP rather than the Government.
Otto von Bismarck is alleged to have said “I am firmly convinced that Spain is the strongest country of the world. Century after century trying to destroy herself and still no success”. The quote comes from an article on media distortion in Spain at Media-Tics here.
As expected last week… ‘Austria blocks Schengen accession of Romania and Bulgaria, while Croatia gets green light’ says Euronews here. Meanwhile, The Netherlands supported Romania’s bid but opposed Bulgaria’s.
From Euronews here: ‘EU Parliament vice-president Eva Kaili in custody for alleged ‘bags of cash from Qatar’’. The report adds: ‘…This affair is “shameful and intolerable” and “very seriously” damages the Parliament’s reputation, EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said on Sunday’. A eurodiputado (MEP) from Ciudadanos called José Ramón Bauzá could be the next to be investigated in the ‘Qatargate’ says moncloa.com here.
Levante brings us this: ‘Scientists warn that climate change will keep tourism away from the south and southeast of the peninsula’. The article says that ‘The experts not only warn of a future problem with tourism, as there will also be a localised increase in anxiety, nervousness, and irascibility. These are the consequences that intense heat waves like the ones we have suffered in Spain this summer will bring, according to scientists from the Carlos III Health Institute, the public research body that promotes, finances and manages biomedical and health issues in the country. There is evidence of a relationship between the increase in mental health problems and the climate crisis…’
From Standing in a Spanish Doorway here: ‘Doctors across most of Spain are on strike (Madrid) or planning strikes (Catalonia included: 25, 26 January). They are protesting over the continuation of government under-funding, salary freezes, creeping privatisation and the countless hours of over-work that this neglect creates for them and all public hospital staff. This is how we as a society are really saying thank you to them for risking their health and lives since the Covid pandemic started 3 years ago this month’.
‘Eurest Colectividades, junk food for health workers and million-dollar benefits for the subsidiary in Delaware (USA)’ says the title from Crónica Libre. The company, a subsidiary of Compass Group, provides meals which doctors and health workers from the community of Castilla y León claim are with pre-cooked food and expired batches as a menu in their health departments…’.
Inquiries into the alleged corruption of the mayoress of Marbella and her family are being continually swept under the carpet, says elDiario.es here.
Maldita brings us a compendium of cruel bulos aimed at Pedro Sánchez’ wife Begoña Gómez over the past few years.
El Debate brings us an article on the cars which will no longer be able to circulate in Madrid from next month. The ZBE – areas of low emissions – means one needs an eco- sticker. Those cars – gasoline from before 2000, and diesel from before 2006 – won’t be able to use the M30 or any street within that circuit. A wider article from N332 (in English) says that any town over 50,000 inhabitants should have in place new rules by January 1st designed to keep the higher-polluting cars away from the city-centre. To get an eco-sticker, pass by your nearest correos with your car’s logbook. It’ll cost a few euros only.
The Guardian brings us an interesting story of re-population for Catalonian villages under 500 inhabitants: ‘First refugees arrive in tiny Catalan villages under repopulation plan’.
Mojácar has won a special chocolate award from Ferrero Rocher – who will forthwith decorate the village with appropriate Christmas chocolate lights. A pity it wasn’t the Ballentine’s Gin people.
An article at Matador Network brings us some Spanish dichos (sayings) with their nearest English counterpart. ‘Es pan comido’ for example, becomes ‘It’s a piece of cake’.
From Trotamundos here – things to see in La Gomera (nice photos).
Albacete doesn’t enjoy much of a reputation among Spaniards, but there is much to see in this central city. From ECD, a list of free attractions here.
Thanks to those who wrote. I’m now back and bouncing about once again, Lenox
Baiuca – Veleno (ft. Rodrigo Cuevas) on YouTube here.