Política, brexit, turismo, actualidad, mercado inmobiliario, finanzas, medios y ecologismo son algunos de los temas que trata este boletín informativo

04/06/18. Opinión. El periodista Lenox Napier repasa la actualidad española en su boletín semanal Business Over Tapas, al que puede suscribirse por 60 euros anuales. Puede obtener más información en su web (AQUÍ) o en su perfil (AQUÍ) en. EL OBSERVADOR / www.revistaelobservador.com ofrece este contenido tres días después de su lanzamiento...

EDITORIAL

THE
no-confidence vote (‘moción de censura’), called for by Pedro Sánchez of the PSOE, with unconditional support from Union Podemos, will be debated today, Thursday and voted on Friday, 1st June.


SPAIN is at a tense moment, with the Partido Popular in disarray following the sentencing in the Gürtel trial last week - with several important ex-members of the party receiving exemplary prison terms (including Luis Bárcenas) and the PP itself cited for improper party finance, with a 250,000€ fine. A couple of days earlier, on Monday, the ex-minister of the PP and Valencia strong-man Eduardo Zaplana had been arrested and jailed without bail for another case of party corruption. There are many more cases down the line (here).

OF course, it could have been worse if one of the judges hadn’t delayed his ruling a few days, allowing, at least, the national budget to go through safely... Following from this, the PSOE announced that it would table the debate. They need either all of the smaller independent and regional groups to back them, or else the hard-to-fathom Ciudadanos party.

CIUDADANOS, a party that is liberal yet right-wing, anti-corruption yet tied to the Partido Popular, has been mealy-mouthed so far, saying one thing then another, and are now shooting for Rajoy to call for immediate elections (which he can’t following constitutional law). In the event of an election, of course, Ciudadanos stand to do rather well...

FOR once, their protagonism is limited – and the thought of a legislature run by Pedro Sánchez, however brief, is galling.

RAJOY'S reaction to all of this is to say that 'Sánchez wants to be president at any cost', despite '...the damage to Spain's stability'. His party has also been busy, sending out appropriate propaganda to friendly news-media – like ‘the economy and jobs would take a massive hit if the vote of confidence were to prosper’.  Público shows some newspapers playing along here.

THE PSOE needs all of the independent groups – the Basque and the Catalonians both. Can they do it? They insist that they won’t negotiate with the other parties, but offer a simple yes/no. El Pais has a video which explains the position here. The moción de censura also needs the support of the voters – are they sick and tired of corruption, or do they feel that we still need the firm hand of the Partido Popular? As to corruption itself, a guide here shows that 86% of the cost of corruption in Spain (figured at 122,000 million euros and counting) is down to the Partido Popular.

THE vote of confidence, then, ideally needs just one more small push. Another little scandal to break the camel’s back. Perhaps to avoid this, Luís Barcenas’ wife Rosalía Iglesias has been spared prison for the time being (although she spent Wednesday night in clink as she was arranging her 200,000€ bail) and her husband’s threat to ‘spill all’ has, for the moment, been silenced.

IN the event of the motion prospering, Pedro Sánchez would be named as president at once and take charge of Parliament on Monday.

EITHER and any way one looks at it, the present Government has fallen in all but name (as forecast by BoT six weeks ago here).

LATER: Rajoy is apparently looking at resigning before the no-confidence vote occurs, says El Plural here. In this case, the Constitution says that the government would continue in office, led in this case either by Rajoy or by vice-president Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, but without legislative powers until fresh elections were consummated or a new president was proposed by the King and voted into office. El Español has the legal low-down here.

HOUSING

FROM Wolf Street: ‘Wall Street Mega-Landlords Piled into Spain’s Rental Property Boom, and Now it Hits a Wall? Blackstone Group, Cerberus Capital and others face a problem’. The article looks at a fall in the demand for rental property. The vultures and the banks are worried as ‘...at the tail end of last year Blackstone, the largest owner of property on the planet, gobbled up some €30,000 million of real estate assets that had belonged to the now-defunct (and Santander-owned) Banco Popular. Cerberus Capital Management, another Wall Street titan, splashed out €13,000 million on impaired assets belonging to Spain’s second largest lender, BBVA. These two deals were among the biggest bulk purchases of dodgy real estate assets in Spanish history and they both took place in the short space of just a few months. According to a FUNCAS (the Spanish Savings Banks Foundation) study, 22.8% of all property deals in Spain in 2017 involved real estate assets auctioned off by the banks...’.

TENSION between the Madrid City Hall and the regional government. The report from Público here: ‘The Regional Government of Madrid will appeal the decision annulling the sale of 3,000 public housing units to a vulture fund. The Regional Executive affirms that it does so to defend the "general interest" of the people of Madrid’.

‘SPAIN may be one of the world's top tourist destinations, but many people in its biggest cities have grown exasperated with Airbnb-style rentals. And now, their city councils are taking action. Airbnb and other peer-to-peer rental websites have for years been credited with enabling lovers of travel and culture to find new ways to explore foreign lands. However, complaints have abounded in Spain that greedy landlords are throwing out long-term tenants in order to cash in on the tourist flow, and that the short-term leases are pushing up rent. By introducing a slew of new rules, Madrid's leftwing city hall plans to make it impossible for short-term rental companies to rent out 95 percent of apartments in the Spanish capital by the end of the year. To get a holiday rental licence homeowners will have to prove their property has a separate entrance from the rest of the building -- a condition that is in most cases impossible to fulfil...’. The report comes from Expatica here.

‘MALAGA architects declare war on the red tape holding back investment. Among the complaints was the fact that it had taken 18 months to obtain a works licence. Professionals have launched an initiative to make the authorities aware of the difficulties experienced by potential investors’. From Sur in English. Another time, and this would have been the BoT editorial as Spanish red tape slows everything down to a juddering halt: bad for business and worse for employment.

PRESS notice from AUAN: The President of the Partido Popular in Almeria, Gabriel Amat, party officials, members of parliament, mayors, councillors and some 50 British residents from the homeowner´s associations AUAN and Albanchez Residents Association, participated in a meeting on Monday 28th May in the PP headquarters in Fines, with the objective of getting behind an amendment presented by the PP on 8th May in the Parliament of Andalusia to modify the planning laws. If approved by parliament, this amendment would allow many properties awaiting legalisation via a town plan to obtain an AFO certificate as a form of interim paperwork thus allowing homeowners to legally access services and register their title at the Land Registry. An AFO is currently only available to properties that have been earmarked to remain outside of a town plan leaving those due to be legalized in a form of legal limbo until a town plan is approved and executed. ... The meeting was also attended by Helen and Len Prior, whose home in Vera was demolished in 2008 and Christine and Noel Payne, whose home in Albox is under threat of demolition, representing the worst aspects of the planning situation in Andalucía which, it is estimated, affects more than one million people.

POLITICS

A poll commissioned by El Español gives disturbing reading to the government, with the Partido Popular falling to fourth position at 16.8% support. Ciudadanos lead with this poll from SocioMétrica with 28.5%.

‘JUSTICE leaves Rajoy as a liar as the agony of Gürtel is far from over. The ordeal that awaits the PP. The ruling considers that the president and other members of the PP were not credible in denying the existence of the party slush fund ‘Caja B’. The party has years to go before the courts with more than 15 cases pending’. An uncomfortable headline found at El Español here. An editorial from El Diario makes the point that ‘The corruption of the PP would not have been possible without all those who support it. Corporate corrupters, media accomplices and a society that underpins criminal practices’. The image of Spain abroad is tarnished by the corruption of the PP says El Plural here.

ONE PP deputy (at least) is aghast at the perfidy of the party and insists that the Partido Popular should apologise to the country after the Gürtel sentence. The story of Andrea Levy’s defiance at MSM here.

FROM El País in English: ‘Podemos leaders win confidence vote over country house scandal. More than 68% of voters said Pablo Iglesias and Irene Montero should keep representing them’.

CORRUPTION

‘THE Alhambra, fourteen years of continuous economic scandals. The monument in Granada has a dark history of awarding services to different companies. At the beginning of this month of May, the last episode occurred: 26 people were arrested’. From VozPopuli here.

‘THE Junta de Andalucía leader Susana Diaz has come under attack after it emerged millions of euros was squandered on strip clubs and golfing for executives as recently as seven years ago. The so-called FAFFE quango (the Andalusian Fund for Training and Employment), spent more than €3.1 million on hotels and entertainment between 2009 and 2011...’. From The Olive Press here.

CATALONIA

QUIM Torra has changed his mind and has substituted his four jailed or exiled councillors with other local politicians, thereby resolving the issue of the Article 155 direct rule from Madrid. Rajoy says he will lift the Article when the four new consellers take their seats.

COURTS

THE Audiencia Nacional has now published its sentencing for the Gürtel Inquiry. The leader of the group is Francisco Correa, who masterminded the network, and he has been handed down 51 years. The ex-treasurer for the PP, Luis Bárcenas, gets 33 years and must pay some 44 million euros in fines: he is now in jail without bail. His wife Rosalía Iglesias (significantly, as Barcenas has threatened to ‘reveal all’ if she were sent to prison), received 15 years jail but was allowed to remain out of jail for the time being – although she spent  Wednesday behind bars as she prepared her bail. The Partido Popular ‘...as a legal entity, benefited financially from Gürtel’s corrupt practices. It has been sentenced to pay €245,492...’ (Says El País in English here). In all, 29 people, all PP members, received sentences varying from 51 years to (in one case) just five months (here). Mariano Rajoy brushed aside the issue – ‘The PP is much more than a few isolated cases of corruption’, he said.

SPAIN leads the world in the number of jailed artists, says Kamchatka, quoting ‘the Danish-based Freemuse organisation which warns of the emergence of "a new global culture to silence others" which is repeated in all countries of the world, "even in the traditional democracies of the West". This independent organisation, which is responsible for monitoring the state of freedom of artistic expression, has published its annual report, in which it identifies Spain as one of the countries in which the repression of creators has increased the most. Specifically, Spain leads the ranking of artists imprisoned in 2017, with a total of 13, ahead of China, Iran, Egypt and Turkey, and is the third in creators prosecuted, lying only behind Egypt and Ethiopia...’.

THE Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios is putting a claim against Facebook for using our information for nefarious ends. The consumer organisation wants Fb to cough up ‘at least’ 200€ to each and every Spanish user. All 26 million of them. Facebook might pay (great news for the lawyers who tirelessly work for the OCU), but they could also leave Spain, à la Google News, or, most likely, squash the case. Pity we could do with 200 euros (less commission). The tale comes from 20 Minutos here.

HERE are some useful words in Spanish jurisprudence. ‘Alegal’ (something betweenlegal’ and ‘ilegal’, especially used to label foreign-owned houses in the sticks) and ‘retención’ – a word now employed instead of ‘detención’ for when someone is arrested (here).  Then there’s the political favourite ‘investigado’ instead of ‘imputado’ (under investigation rather than stood accused) (here).

BREXIT

‘...THEN along came Brexit, and the ‘c’ word was everywhere. Anti-Brexit campaigners worried about citizens’ rights. Elsewhere, citizens of the world were crudely derided as citizens of nowhere. For Brits in Europe, the question of citizenship is important: Brexit transforms us from (EU) citizens into mere guests. Privileged guests with any luck, but guests nonetheless. Guests without a vote in EU or local elections; guests with the right to stay, but perhaps not the right to leave for a few years and come back. Michael Harris of EuroCitizens talks about this on The Local Spain this week. (taken from The Local’s ‘Europe and You’ newsletter).

‘ON Wednesday, 23 May EuroCitizens organised a round table about the human cost of Brexit on UK and Spanish citizens living respectively in Spain and the UK, in the Madrid offices of the European parliament. 310,000 UK citizens in Spain and over 100,000 Spanish citizens in the UK are still being used as bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiations...’. The report can be found at EuroCitizens here.

WHAT is ‘free movement for EU citizens’? The explanation is at Remain in France here.

FROM Conservative Home: ‘Alastair Stewart: We expats are still under a cloud of uncertainty about our residency rights’. As expected, the comments are illuminating.

MEDIA

‘SPAIN’S three big television channels (TVE, Mediaset España and Atresmedia), have announced the commercial launch of their hybrid television for the end of 2018 or the beginning of 2019. It’s a service which combines traditional digital TV enhanced with content from the broad band connections in homes. The new platform, which will be called LoVesTV, will offer programmes similar to those on pay TV, but they will be free. The main claim is that you can watch any TV programme which has been broadcast in the last week. It’s conceived as an open service, in other words, other channels, both private and regional ones, will be invited to participate in LoVesTV...’. From The Corner here.

THE satirical magazine El Jueves explains how the editorial board at El País operates...

ONE of the kernels of news from the Gürtel Inquiry is that the Partido Popular slush fund financed the cyber-news Libertad Digital, run by the always colourful Federico Jiménez Losantos. The story at El Diario here.

THE Turkey Telegraph uses Google Translate to devastating effect. '..."Anor former minister of PP who goes through dungeons." Thus has reacted Secretary general of Can, Pablo Iglesias, in a tweet, to arrest of Eduardo Zaplana for a crime of bribery (collection of kickbacks) and of money laundering. For its partner in United Coalition we can, news of arrest of former minister of José María Aznar "reinforces sis that corruption in that cabinet was widespread"...'. More here.

The Housing Sector. The Stock of New Houses by Andrew Brociner

LAST time we looked at the stock of new houses, a subject of much concern ever since the frenzied and short-term pace of the construction boom took place. Spain was saddled with many empty and unsold properties for numerous years. We saw that the absorption rate of these houses remains quite low. The increase in sales we have seen recently refers to second-hand properties, while new ones have decreased in volume for many years, with only just recently some stabilisation taking place.

IF we now look at the distribution of this stock, we find that only three regions, Catalonia, Valencia and Andalucía, account for nearly one half of the stock. This is because, with the exceptions of Madrid and Toledo, most of the stock is found along the Mediterranean coast.


IF we consider, however, the ratio of the stock of new houses to the number of existing houses, we get a slightly different picture.


IT is interesting to note, for instance, that Madrid and Barcelona, which have the largest stock of new houses between them, do not appear on the list, as they have less than 2%, when compared to the total, and neither does Valencia, which also has a large number. Alicante is much lower on the list and Almeria is higher. The Baleares slipped below 2% from last year.

IT is perhaps not surprising to find that Madrid, Barcelona and the Baleares, not hampered by this constraint, have prices moving more in line with demand. On the other hand, Andalucía and Murcia, are constrained and not experiencing a significant rise in prices.

VARIOUS

ALERT Cops – a useful emergency app operated by the Spanish Ministry of the Interior for your phone – it works in English here.

FROM a place in the top ten down to 19th place. This has been the significant drop in healthcare in Spain in just one year, according to a study published in The Lancet. The portal echoes research that measures the quality of the health system in the world's 195 states by comparing data from 32 curable causes of death with appropriate medical care, such as tuberculosis or tetanus, to score from 0 to 100...’. From Redacción Médica here.

THE average waiting times for attention at the Spanish public hospitals, by region here.

IS the fabled Mediterranean Diet dying out asks The Guardian.

JOAQUÍN Abad (editor of the now folded La Crónica de Almeria and El Caso) has written a book about the late Almería mafia-boss Juan Asensio. Almería Hoy picks out a story of how the crime-boss once grabbed Judge Baltasar Garzón by his shirt and threatened to have him killed...

THE Spanish Wealth Tax, with Emigrate.co.uk: ‘Even for new British arrivals in Spain, death and taxes are the two certainties, but few Britons are aware of the country’s wealth tax. Spain’s Patrimonio wealth tax often takes newly-arrived expats by surprise, especially if they’ve come from the UK where such a tax is totally unknown. Dependent on their destination country's rules, expats are mostly aware they’re liable for VAT, municipal taxes and rates, capital gains tax, income tax and inheritance tax. Reinstated during the 2008 financial crisis, Spain’s wealth tax can come as a shock...’

SEE SPAIN

‘THE oldest hotel in service in Spain is called Petit Palace Posada del Peine and is located at 17 Calle Postas in Madrid. Of course, its current appearance is far from that of its inauguration in 1610 during the reign of Philip III, since it has been a 4-star lodging since 2005, after a profound renovation and reform, whereas in the past it was what its name says: a simple inn that survived the times...’. From La Brújula Verde here.

THE Prado Museum exhibits ‘The Triumph of Death’ by Pieter Brueghel after its restoration. The process has recovered the original values of the work that were negatively affected by the presence of over-layers and varnishes...’. From VozPópuli here.

ANOTHER enjoyable piece from Mike Arkus, who is currently working his way around the south of Spain: ‘Andalusia, the road less travelled, part 4 – Antequera, stone-age tombs, Moorish fortress and baroque churches’.

‘AMERICAN, Italian and even Bulgarian guitarists are to star in this year’s International Guitar Festival in Ronda. ...The five-day festival, from June 5, was founded in 2015 by Andalusian maestro Paco Seco, alongside British wife Lucy Stewart, of the Ronda Guitar House...’. Item from The Olive Press here.

FINALLY

WHY do los andaluces speak they way they do? Apparently, it’s to save time. YouTube here. And here is a full-length documentary on "Andaluz de la A a la Z".