**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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–April 7 2022 Nº 440
The Partido Popular now has a new leader. This, following the party congress in Seville over the weekend, is Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the erstwhile President of Galicia.
The north-west region of Galicia has sent to Madrid a number of leaders over the years, notably both General Franco and Mariano Rajoy, plus a further seven presidents of Spain since 1900 (here).
One of them, Gabino Bugallal, only lasted for five days in power back in 1921 says Wiki.
Winners must have losers, and in this area we have the previous leader of the party Pablo Casado, who has announced that, like Albert Rivera (another Young Turk over at Ciudadanos) before him, he is to leave politics.
A second loser was the person who engineered the departure of Casado, the flamboyant President of Madrid Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who is currently flailing about trying to distance herself from any accusations of collusion with her brother over some allegedly juicy commissions. No doubt it will all blow over, once she accepts Feijóo’s leadership.
Besides the satisfaction no doubt felt in Galicia, Andalucía also has cause for celebration, as their politicians Elías Bendodo and Juan Bravo join the national team as PP party coordinator and shadow tax adviser respectively.
Feijóo, we read, ‘will offer supporters a party that charts its own course without cultural wars, “children’s games” or empty patriotism’.
Will Feijóo’s opposition be more effective than that of the callow self-serving ‘against everything’ Pablo Casado, who spent more time trying to discredit Spain in Brussels or vacuously insulting the Government of Pedro Sánchez (YouTube: ‘When the f**k are you going to do something?’) than in trying to offer any solutions to the difficult times of the past two years?
As a right-wing commentary notes, Feijóo will offer the hand of friendship and collaboration to Sánchez, so that he won’t need the support any longer of communists, Catalonian independents or Basque pro-terrorists to govern (I said it was right-wing). The advantage of this is to bring the PP back into centre-country, to agree on those points which can be found to exist in common with the socialists, to provide some much-needed stability at home and at the same time to perhaps isolate or at least slow down the ascent of Vox.
The high-profile illegal urbanisation called Isla Valdecañas (Cáceres) with its golf course, hotel and 185 homes is due for demolition. However, no one less than the Junta de Extremadura regional government itself has called for a change in the law to save the luxurious estate from the bulldozers. elDiario.es reports on the saga here.
There are endless stories of illegal homes, homes under threat or demolished, homes without papers or homes without water and electric connections. One urbanisation with issues is the Camposol in Mazarrón (Murcia). The Camposol Residents Association have a webpage here which looks at the different issues suffered by unhappy property-owners over the past fifteen years over this ‘festering wound’. And here, with A Place in the Sun, is some properties for sale at the stricken urbanisation, which is, we read, ‘…a friendly community of around 3,000 people’. Some problems with services at another urbanisation located just outside the city of Murcia have been picked up by The Express here: ‘British expats in Spain worried electricity will get cut off after homes built illegally’. The comments, as always with this paper, are scathingly Brexiteer and unkind. To end on a low note, a British-owned ‘illegal’ home in Torrox (Málaga) was demolished on Tuesday after a long battle with the authorities says The Olive Press here, and somehow, inexplicably, the world became a better place…?
From Spanish Property Insight here: ‘I often hear people complaining about the amount real estate agents charge, and what’s included for their fees. But I rarely hear buyers talking about the lesser known problem of some agents charging “double fees” and then only acting for one side – the vendor. Did you know that some agents will charge both the purchasers and the sellers for the sale/acquisition of the property, which means charging buyers for a service they are not really benefiting from…?’
‘The vulture funds introduce micro-homes to Spain’ says EPE here. For 700€ a month, there’s a full 21 square metre dwelling waiting for you in Madrid. Two companies so far are developing these hidey-holes, Greystar (USA) and Round-Hill Capital (UK). These homes tiptoe around the law (the legal minimum area for an apartment is 38m2), but hotels can go as low as 10.5m2. The homes will offer some common area and will be classed as ‘aparthotels’ – twisting the law, but in Ayuso’s Madrid, that should be OK says the article.
‘The Plaza de Toros de Fuengirola (Málaga) is looking for a new owner’, according to an item at The Olive Press here. The owners have set a price of €4.5 million for the historic building, which seats 4,000. With it comes the car park and the commercial sites within.
From El Iberico on Wednesday here: ‘British airports are experiencing chaotic scenes and more than 1,000 flights have already been cancelled’. The report says: ‘The vast majority of cancellations last week came from EasyJet and British Airways. Industry experts say that airlines and airports are suffering not only from the reduced number of staff infected by Covid, but also to the cutback in personnel that has been carried out during the pandemic.
Is it safe to travel to Spain in 2022? From Molly at Piccavey: ‘Here´s updated information on the current situation in Spain. As I live here I´m sharing detailed insight with regards to travel and tourism’. The article is here.
‘The end of the pandemic and the better than expected growth in jobs has allowed the Spanish economy to make a major adjustment to the deficit figures, reducing it to 6.76%, compared to the more than 10% registered in 2020. This represents the largest reduction in deficit of the public administrations in many years and is better than both the predictions given by most international organizations as well as the one that the Government itself provided to Brussels, which was set at 8.4%…’ The story at La Vanguardia here. Furthermore, says El País here, as employment rose in March, Spain’s perennial problem of short-term work contracts has begun to recede, with ‘indefinite (full-time) contracts’ now making up almost 30% of all signings.
El País here: ‘Sagunto will house the Volkswagen battery factory, which announces an investment of 7,000 million euros in Spain. The Valencian plant, which will start producing in 2026, will employ 3,000 people’.
According to ECD here, the petrol stations are indignant at the Government for their heavy-handed price drop per litre of 20c and 6,000 gasolineras will not have enough money, unless the funds arrive quickly, to order fresh supplies for the Easter Break.
Elon Musk, who has apparently bought the lion’s share of Twitter-stock, has tweeted to say that Spain would be the perfect place to provide solar energy for the whole of Europe. He’s quite right (despite the last few days of heavy rain). President Sánchez thinks so too, and has invited Musk to invest in such a useful and profitable venture. Says Sánchez to Musk (also on Twitter): ‘We’re already implementing a most ambitious plan towards efficient & sustainable energy system. All sectors on board. Maximizing opportunities, digitalization and value chain for a long lasting success. The time is now. Let’s get it right. Come and see’. Ikea later reacted by saying that they will begin a major solar energy project in Spain with an investment of 100m€. The company plans five solar farms – three for Valencia, one each for Andalucía and Castilla-La Mancha – to be in operation by 2023.
From The Guardian here: ‘Spain’s conservative People’s party to ‘reboot’ with new leader. Alberto Núñez Feijóo to take over after years of turmoil that have left PP in danger of being eclipsed by far-right Vox’.
The formalities of democratic choice have been dropped by Vox says El País here: ‘Santiago Abascal eliminates the last vestige of internal democracy in Vox. The party suppresses primary elections to elect its provincial committees, which will be imposed directly from Madrid’. This, says the paper, goes against the Spanish Constitution: ‘Artículo 6: Los partidos políticos expresan el pluralismo político, concurren a la formación y manifestación de la voluntad popular y son instrumento fundamental para la participación política. Su creación y el ejercicio de su actividad son libres dentro del respeto a la Constitución y a la ley. Su estructura interna y funcionamiento deberán ser democráticos’.
Now that things have settled down for the PP once again, the chances of an early regional election for Andalucía are building. From 20Minutos here, we see the reasons for both June or maybe October, and a video/graphic showing the current support for the various parties. elDiario.es says gloomily that the PP will need Vox to govern in Andalucía.
Who will become the new president of Galicia, as Alberto Núñez Feijóo takes to the national stage? There is still a month to decide, but the likely successor is the provincial party president of Pontevedra Alfonso Rueda, although another regional PP strongman, says El Huff Post here, is Francisco Conde. Then there’s Pedro Puy and the Huff Post favourite Miguel Tellado… All of them, at least, are refreshingly easy to spell…
Spanish political groups like to choose a word or phrase to promote their values. ‘Cambio’ (change) being the usual one (pocket change? Harr harr). Vox is using ‘Sembramos Futuro’ – we are planting for the future. The PSOE likes ‘Haz que Pase’ (Make it so). The current PP mottos are ‘Lo Haremos Bien’ (we’ll get it right) and ‘Preparados’ – we are prepared. It’s been noticed that with a slight tweak, ‘Pre parados’ means ‘We’ll soon be out of a job’.
President Zelenskyy spoke ‘live’ to the Spanish parliament on Tuesday afternoon by video link. 20Minutos has the story here as does Sur in English here. He received a standing ovation from the Spanish politicians and a group of senators who attended.
Zelenskyy’s speech in the Spanish parliament on Tuesday recalled how the Nationalists bombed Guernica during the Civil War, likening this horrific event to the recent destruction and murder of civilians in a suburb of Kyiv called Bucha by the Russian invaders.
While the whole of the Cortes gave him a standing ovation (even Vox!), it was claimed afterwards by a couple of far-righters that Guernica was always said to have been destroyed by the Reds in what was a false-flag action. Putin says the same of Bucha.
I remember an old German pilot who lived in Mojácar in the seventies called Gunter.
He would tell the story of how he, in the Condor Legion, was one of the pilots of the bombers that destroyed the Basque town of Guernica in 1937.
The Nationalist version – that it had been the Communists – was the official story in Spain until the death of Franco in 1975 when the truth was officially recognised.
Putin’s goal, says his associate Dimitri Medvedev, is to build one huge Eurasian civilization stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok. The story at Infobae here. We wonder who would be the one to rule it.
Viktor Orbán’s (Wiki) increased victory in the Hungarian elections has met with the approval of Europe’s far-right leaders as well as from Vladimir Putin. Público reports that Vox was so pleased by the result, it sent two of its four MEPs to Budapest to celebrate: Jorge Buxadé and Hermann Tertsch.
The thorny issue of the Spanish refusal for double nationality has been resolved, at least, in the case of French nationals, who may now hold two passports (with the appropriate agony of the bureaucratic paperwork and time-wasted which these things imply). El Confidencial has the story here.
The staff at the three Spanish consulates in the UK (Manchester, London and Edinburgh) along with those employed at the London embassy remain on strike over pay and conditions, says El Iberico here. No updates on this story as yet.
Face-masks will no longer be obligatory indoors from April 20th except in hospitals, health centres, old folks residences and in public transport says NiusDiario here.
‘The Power of Lies’ is a piece by the editor of elDiario.es here on the subject of propaganda. How do we continue to fall for it, he asks.
Not all journalists are welcome to Vox interviews and meetings, or are even on the Vox WhatsApp instant messenger says ECD. Neither El País nor elDiario.es receives items from the far-right party (probably concerned that they would be misrepresented).
BoT is currently running our useful weekly news bulletin on a blog here to bring in some new readers (I even throw in a photograph). Pass it along!
How efficient is the recycling of plastics in Spain? Not very, says El Salto Diario here: ‘Despite countless “green-washing” campaigns and operations, Spain has a problem with its waste. The latest embarrassment for our recycling system was produced at the beginning of the month by a study by the Faculty of Design and Engineering at the University of Vic (Barcelona). The work, published in the scientific journal Sustainable Production and Consumption, contradicted the official statistics on plastic recycling in Spain…’.
Sales of plastic single-use cups, straws, forks and plates are finally coming to an end says elDiario.es here. Furthermore, from next year, customers will be charged extra for their use in fast-food joints.
The biologist and president of the Doñana Participation Council Miguel Delibes de Castro joined the indignant complaints voiced by the UNESCO, the European Commission, the leading supermarkets in Europe and the manifesto of the thousand or so scientific authorities against the legalization of irrigation in Doñana – despite the alarming lack of water – which was recently signed by the Junta de Andalucía (to protect the local farmers and strawberry growers). InfoLibre says that a speech in the regional parliament by Delibes claimed that the attack against Doñana will end up in court, where he was sure that it would be stopped. He said that, far from solving problems, the pending rule only serves to generate “false expectations” among farmers and “create tension.” It is a “frivolous, inconsistent, irresponsible, disloyal and implausible project, which avoids public debate, grants full rights to those who have acted outside the law and is disrespectful towards the people of Huelva”.
Things are at an even worse state with the mortally wounded Mar Menor in Murcia, where the inland sea, says CadenaSer, is now listed by the regional government as ‘irrecoverable’.
‘Iberdrola has suffered a cyber-attack where the personal information of 1.3 million customers has been stolen. The attackers gained access to personal data such as one’s ID, address, telephone number and email address, but not “financial data (current account or credit card) or electricity consumption data,” says the company…’. The disturbing item comes from El Diario Cantabria here.
Foreign spies have been both active and more numerous in the past year in Spain, says the CNI (Spanish secret service), as quoted by ECD here. This week, 25 Russian diplomats have been told to leave the country.
The European traffic people have managed to swing a another Big-Brother law into action – that all new vehicle brands introduced after July 6 must have a monitor in the engine which stops the vehicle from overtaking the speed limit. This is the Intelligent Speed Assistance and will hold the vehicle – whether to 120kph, or 30kph in the towns. All new vehicles from 2024 will have this gadget as standard. MotorPasión says that – having scoped a speed-limit sign, the vehicle will firstly warn the driver with visual and sonic alarms, and then set out to reduce the speed of the vehicle by heartier means – like making the accelerator hard. Apart from the unpleasant joke of erecting a 30kph sign on a motorway (!) this new control of our right foot will be taken as a good reason to buy something second hand. I imagine that I will one day have some fun buzzing Jaguars and Beemers that can’t go over 120 while I overtake ’em in my elderly Seat Twingo.
The DGT has ruled that any parking in the wrong space will be a 200€ fine says El Español here: bus lanes, double parking and so on… Coming soon, if you open your car door with the left hand instead of turning around and using your right hand, that’s another 260€ spent.
The local judiciary didn’t like a particular cartoon at an exhibition by Diana Raznovich at the Instituto Balear de la Mujer and have apparently managed – with just a word in the right ear – to have it removed. The picture in question can be seen here.
A town in Toledo called Escalona has taken to bricking up the windows and doors of a number of houses there against illegal occupation. The squatters apparently have been enjoying the empty homes available and the town hall has reacted against this phenomenon. Escalona, known in certain circles as ‘Zona de Okupa VIP’, is a small town of 3,250 citizens. The homes in question, earmarked for low-paid rentals, are all owned by banks, vulture funds and investors who would evidently rather have their properties sealed than pirated. 20Minutos has the story here. There are some 3.4 million empty homes in Spain.
From Spain in English here: ‘Barcelona has been confirmed as the host venue for the 2024 America’s Cup, the world’s oldest international yacht race. It means that the city will be the first venue ever to host both an Olympic Games and an America’s Cup yachting event…’
The economy of processed food, says El Español here, is 50% packaging, 40% promotion and just 10% for the ingredients. Uggh!
Why they don’t just stop the sale of cigarettes and be done with it? Anyhow, the latest step towards annoying smokers and relieving everyone else is coming soon: to ban smoking in all sports stadia and on the playa.
‘Why do Spaniards cook everything with olive oil instead of butter?’ Fascinating Spain asks here.
For a good lunch in Spain, there’s always the menu del día. Three courses, bread and a drink for a modest price. Just this past weekend, Lenox enjoyed such a treat for 16€ per person in a rare trip north to Sitges. The cheapest place though, says Directo al Paladar here, is in Málaga. The Bar Mercado de Huelín puts out a menu for just five euros. Too cheap? Maybe.
My trip to Sitges this past weekend reminded me of a few hotels I’ve stayed where things went a little bit wrong.
National Geographic brings us the most important archaeological sites in Spain. ‘Scattered throughout the country, we find hundreds of sites that tell our story. From Atapuerca to Mérida passing through the Canary Islands, these settlements allow us to reconstruct the lives of our ancestors and better understand where we come from’. As always with NatGeo, there are some wonderful photos to be admired.
Cande Buasso and Paulo Carrizo with Jorge Cordero perform Barro tal vez on YouTube here.