Política, Brexit, turismo, actualidad, finanzas, Cataluña, ecologismo, medios o corrupción son algunos de los temas que trata este boletín informativo

06/05/19. 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). EL OBSERVADOR / www.revistaelobservador.com ofrece este contenido tres días después de su lanzamiento...

EDITORIAL

THERE it was: the PSOE came through. Of course, with a bit less media manipulation in favour of the right-wing parties, Pedro Sánchez would have won a bit more comfortably, and not been obliged to join in what the El Español huffily describes as ‘another Frankenstein government’.


TO paraphrase Jordi Évole’s comment following the results, the far-right, by a heroic effort, managed to get the centre-left supporters away from their Game-boys, afternoon TV shows and walks through the park, to go out and vote. Massively.

PEDRO Sánchez, just 47, is now the Veteran and Old Man of Spanish politics. He has become almost respectable (even though the ‘Socialist Old Guard’ evidently hasn’t forgiven him). He won with what we hope will become four years of peaceful growth.

WHETHER this is to be, we shall of course be seeing (he can’t pact with Ciudadanos - they won’t have it - while a Podemos plus Independents arrangement is fraught and his current plan to run as a minority government may be over-optimistic). Understandably, expect nothing until after the second round of elections on May 26th, although the main party leaders (less Abascal) will meet separately with Sánchez at the Moncloa next week for talks.

THE stumbling of the Popular Party in the general elections of 28A has been of biblical proportions. Of the 137 seats that Mariano Rajoy achieved, Pablo Casado has lost more than half with just 66 remaining while almost 3.5 million votes have turned to smoke. This, among other things, has placed the party on the verge of bankruptcy.

AT least from Ciudadanos' point of view, the conservative vote is falling under their control. Give it another few years and they will be the main centre-right party in Spain. Maybe. Vox didn't do as well as we all expected in the elections, and the PP is imploding. So, playing its hand for the party's future (rather than that of the future of Spain, perhaps), Ciudadanos has once again said that under no circumstance will it join with the PSOE to form a strong and stable government.

THE ‘Independents’ did well, with 32 seats – five more than in 2016. Five of their triumphant candidates, four diputados and a senador, are currently in clink. Still, the greatest threat to Spain’s easy way of life, the fighting bull in the boudoir as it were, was held at just ten per cent, and 24 seats. This nationalist 'anti-illegal immigration' party did well in Melilla and Ceuta (where there are lots of Moroccans) and Almería. They tanked in Catalonia and the north of Spain, Imagine (just to put this in perspective), your first concern about your country is not health, taxes, justice, corruption, child poverty, the economy, pensions or women's rights. It’s worrying about the boat-people!

VOX may have made large gains, but their leaders certainly don’t think so. So much so, that they have demanded a nation-wide recount!

THE other elections, to the Senate, went well from the PSOE point of view. The socialists comfortably took the Upper House for the first time in twenty years. The general elections are through. We won’t know for a while how the new government will be formed, and certainly not who will be the ministers; but, with the local, European and regional elections all still ahead, we do know one thing.

IT’S not over yet.

HOUSING

ABANDONED Spanish villages prominently figure on all editors’ news-desks, apparently... This one from an American site called The Vintage News says ‘Over in Spain, deep in the rural countryside of this beautiful European nation, many historic stone homes that have been standing for decades are available for a fraction of what you’d expect to pay. In fact, entire villages and hamlets are actually being sold, with some available for under $100,000...’. We have to wonder, who buys these things?


TOURISM

HOSTELTUR looks at mass tourism versus quality tourism. They mean of course, lots of cheap tourists versus fewer wealthy ones. Tourism being, as it is, about money. The debate is here.


‘BRITS favouring non-European destinations this year due to Brexit impasse. Thomas Cook has issued a report to state that many British travellers are planning on Tunisia and Turkey this year, instead of EU destinations’. A look at the inherent weakness in the tourist business from Blasting News (with video) here. The article admits that ‘...Despite this, the BBC reports Spain is still the most popular summer destination for British travellers, but Turkey has now reportedly overtaken Greece (previously another popular choice for Brits) in the number of bookings coming in...’.

‘...JUST over three months after the first flights at Corvera airport, it's been confirmed that Aeromur, the consortium originally contracted to build and manage the airport, has gone into liquidation. ... Aeromur was formed in 2007 with a capital of 14,7 million euros, seven major investors were involved, including two banks. By 2017 there were just three employees remaining on the payroll, following a decade of controversy and changes of fortune, which eventually led to the management contract being rescinded unilaterally by the Murcia Regional Government after construction of the facility was completed. Corvera airport is now managed by AENA...’.  From Murcia Today here.

FINANCE

FROM Rigged Game, we read an analysis on jobs. ‘Spain’s unemployment rate ticked up by a quarter percentage point to 14.7% in the first quarter of 2019, when economists had expected a down tick, as the number of people claiming unemployment benefits increased by 50,000 to 3.35 million, according to data released by the National Statistics Institute (INE). Although it’s not unusual for unemployment in Spain to tick up during the first quarter, this is the biggest quarter-on-quarter increase in six years and it highlights a persistent weak link in an economy that has done nothing but grow since late 2013...’.


THE drama of being on ‘el paro’. La Información considers unemployment issues here. ‘...Despite the economic recovery, in Spain there are still 1,089,400 households with all their members without work, and of these, 27% are Andalusian’.

FROM El Mundo here: ‘The last government of Pedro Sánchez had already noted that they wanted to carry out a notable tax increase but now, after winning the elections, the party has put figures to this plan. As stated in the Stability Program 2019-2022 that the acting Ministry of Economy sent to Brussels on Monday, the Executive confirms that its intention is to increase the "tax burden" from 35.1% to 37.3% GDP, which represents an increase of more than 26,000 million euros...’.

POLITICS

EUROPEAN, local and (most) regional elections: May 26th.


THE results: The PSOE at 123 seats (up from 85 in 2016), the PP tanking at 66 (from 137). Ciudadanos took 57 and Unidas Podemos just 42. Vox is at 24 seats. The rest of the board went to regional parties, with the Catalonian ERC republican izquierda taking 15. PACMA, we are relieved to report (and to coin a phrase), lost its deposit. (From Spanish Shilling).

AN article at the Cadena Ser here looks at the low vote from Spaniards living abroad. The reason for just 8.7% of them asking for the vote was, of course, that old Spanish bug-bear. Paperwork! ‘...If we rely on the data from the Electoral Census of Absent Residents published by the National Institute of Statistics there are 2,093,977 Spaniards residing abroad, of which 182,545 requested to vote in the elections of this April 28, which is only 8.71% of the total...’. Then, poor things, they have to repeat for the coming municipal, European and regional elections.

PABLO Casado, bruised but not beaten, has now switched PP policy to criticising his rival to the right, branding Vox as an ‘extreme right wing party’.

‘STEVE Bannon travels to Spain to advise Abascal: “Vox has managed to push right-wing populism”, he says. The former Trump adviser predicts that the ultras will take over half of the seats in the European Parliament in May. From La Razón here.

THE German view on the results is from Deutsche Welle here. ‘Opinion: Spain loses its innocence’.

THE banks hope Sánchez will listen to reason (well, to the banks anyway), and make a deal with Ciudadanos. Neither Sánchez nor Rivera seems keen on this idea. El Independiente quotes the director of the Banco Santander ‘..."The coalition between PSOE and Ciudadanos would probably please the financial markets given that the liberal position of Ciudadanos would be better received than the populism of Unidas Podemos,"...’.

PABLO Iglesias, the leader of Unidas Podemos, has an article in Wednesday’s El País arguing that, without his party in the next government, the PSOE will be looking towards la derecha for favours and support.

HOW many votes did it take for one deputy (the unfair vagaries of politics, populations and borders)? El País answers the question and also shows a ‘what-if’ based on pure numbers. The results are not really all that different. The PSOE still won...

VALENCIA had its regional elections (for some reason) this past Sunday. The results there gave a firm victory to la izquierda with the PSPV, Compromís and Podemos-Esquerra Unida  taking 52 of the 99 deputies for las Corts.

ELECTION ANECDOTES

A few good ones from El País here, include the polling station in Villarroya, Logroño, which was opened and closed with a full vote from its six citizens in just 40 seconds. In  Illán de Vacas, Toledo, the village compliment of three voters didn’t take long either, but they gamely waited until 8.00pm before opening the urn to count the votes. In Aguere (Santa Cruz de Tenerife), the president of one table, poor chap, was deaf and blind, but game. These modern times we live in, hey? In Benizar, Murcia, the whole village decided not to vote to attract attention to their rotting infrastructure (more on this here).


VOX got a lot of promotion (from all places) from a car forum called ForoCoches for, well, no particular reason. Wired looks at the tale here. Then some readers from ForoCoches paid for a Mariachi band to serenade the lamenting party officials at the PP headquarters in Madrid, says La Vanguardia, with a rendition of ‘Canta no Llores’ (here with video).

FROM Foreign Policy here: ‘Spain’s Vox party hates Muslims—except the ones who fund it. The upstart far-right party is unapologetically Islamophobic, but without donations from Iranian exiles, it may have never gotten off the ground’.

NOT every political poster was deemed acceptable, certainly not those from the extraterrestrial Kang and Kodos party which appeared (briefly) in Lugo. ‘Vote for us, or we will destroy your planet’ said one.

A nun from an old people’s home in Bilbao was detained by the police after she was discovered to be filling her charges envelopes with voting slips for the PP.

THE seventy pueblos where the highest vote went to Vox are here.

THE reduced income for the PP following the results leaves them unable to pay their staff their wages this month, says Público here.

CATALONIA

‘JAILED Catalan separatists need Supreme Court permission to take seats in the Congress and Senate. Five pro-independence leaders were voted in as deputies or senators on Sunday but cannot be sworn in to their roles unless they are physically present at the ceremony’. Item from El País here.


‘EXILED president Carles Puigdemont, along with two of his former cabinet ministers, has been barred from standing in the European Parliament elections by Spain’s electoral authority. The Catalan independence figurehead has been listed as the top candidate for May’s vote by his Junts per Catalunya party, which also includes his colleagues Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí...’. From Vilaweb here.

MADRID

FROM LaSexta (video) here: ‘The Electoral Board prohibits Manuela Carmena and Iñigo Errejón from participating in electoral debates. The new formation of Más Madrid will not be able to participate in the debates, the board considering that they should not be given the same treatment as other parties that have participated in previous elections’.


CORRUPTION

‘JOSÉ Martín Santos, a journalist sentenced to three years in prison for fraud, together with three computer scientists from Alicante are the people who have in their possession images, videos and personal documents of Julian Assange, the refugee cyber-activist who spent seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London before being delivered last April 11 to the British police. The police are investigating whether a supposed Spanish communication agency is behind the extortion of the 47-year-old Australian activist, who is asked to pay three million to not broadcast the images in their possession...’.  Uggh. The story is covered by El País here.


‘THE former boss of Spain’s Alhambra accused of using monument’s audio guides to embezzle up to 12 million euros’. An item from The Olive Press here.

MEDIA

DAVID Jimenez, the ex-director of El Mundo, is interviewed in Vanity Fair. He says in his new book El Director that Vox is a product of media manipulation, or, as it says, ‘...there is no doubt that Jimenez’ objective is the press, which he accuses of having damaged the public debate. "The media, with exceptions, have fuelled sectarianism" he says, and he complains that rigorous journalists have been diluted in the midst of so much noise. "Some comrades have realized that being sectarian and manipulating prospers more than being a serious journalist: you only have to see who is called to appear on TV and radio shows." During the interview he repeated several times that journalists are a reflection of politicians and vice versa. "The intolerant journalism of the barricades has created Vox. Extremism dehumanizes those who do not think the same way. It is a global phenomenon that has awakened a radicalism in Spain that was in the air but had not been channelled. Now there are journalists who defend this stuff and give moral authority to these ideas"...’.


WHAT the Spanish think of British journalism about Spain (!!). An article in The Corner (an English-language Spanish financial news-site) begins, ‘I have lived through many years of Spanish friends complaining about the depiction of Spanish politics in the British media, and especially newspapers. It is hard to exaggerate the fury when the Financial Times included Spain among the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain – periphery Euro-zone countries with sovereign debt countries). Little did it avail me to point out that it was just an acronym, or that “pig” in English did not carry the same connotation as “cerdo” in Spanish. The sense of being patronised by the condescending English was palpable (on these occasions I was swift always to assert my Irish heritage). I tended to put this down to a Spanish inferiority complex. But following last Sunday´s Spanish elections, and how they were covered in the English newspapers, I have come to realise that my Spanish friends have a point...’.

ECOLOGY

ONE can now check Google Maps for available charging stations for electric vehicles, says El Español.


20 Minutos lists the cleanest and dirtiest cities in Spain here. The cleanest include Oviedo, Bilbao, Vigo, Logroño, Pamplona, Getxo, San Sebastián, Gijón, Burgos, Segovia, Castellón, Soria and Salamanca. All northern cities. The dirtiest are Jaén, Alicante, Alcalá de Henares and Cuenca. There are some graphics to cover all of Spain’s major cities.

AN item from Greenpeace España from January says that the Consejería de Medio Ambiente en Andalucía, the hitherto stand-alone environmental office, was moved by the new regional government to form part of the Consejería de Agricultura, Ganadería, Pesca y Desarrollo Sostenible.

WE meet the various parasites and pests that are attacking Spain’s agriculture. There is a useful article at The Olive Press on the subject here.

VARIOUS

FOR small pueblos, the correos-building could be used as a pharmacy as well, suggests the PSOE. El Economista has the story here.


SOME tips to help you learn Spanish come from Molly at Piccavey here.

THE Plutarch Project introduces us to a peculiar double-agent: ‘Spain’s history has many colourful and heroic figures. There is one 20th century man who really stands out from the pack- his name was Joan Pujol Garcia. During World War 2 he was a spy for both the Allies and the Nazi’s. Now, originally he wanted to be a spy for the allies but they didn’t immediately accept him or his proposal. So what did he do? Joan Pujol Garcia became a spy for the Nazis instead. He created the identity of an ultra pro-Nazi government official and began his self-imposed mission of saving the world...’.

THE Spanish Diabetes Federation took 81,500€ from Coca Cola in 2017 in exchange for promoting the soft drink, says Cuántas Calorías Tienen here. According to the article, this sort of thing is quite common.

A footballer called Eden Hazard has reportedly been offered a mega-money deal by Real Madrid – with the Spanish club even willing to buy him a luxury house to ensure the transfer materialises. The Chelsea winger continues to be linked with a move to Madrid as the clock runs down on his current contract...’. A salivating article from Brinkwire here.

THE fight for a throne: The Duel of Carabanchel was fought with pistols at the shooting school of the Dehesa de Carabanchel, on the morning of March 12, 1870 between Antonio de Orleans, the Duke of Montpensier and Enrique de Borbón, the Duke of Seville, in which the second lost his life, and the first his options to reign in Spain. Both were brothers-in-law of Isabel II and each had plotted to become king on her death. Curistoria has the story here.

SEE SPAIN

THE Culture Trip takes us to the beautiful city of Zaragoza here.


WE get to see Palma de Mallorca with The Guardian here.

EYE on Spain visits The Chocolate Museum in Barcelona here.

LETTERS

‘BUSINESS over Tapas, para quien quiera leer en inglés un resumen de las noticias más importantes de la pasada semana... un trabajo del periodista Lenox Napier...’. Fernando Rivas, Revista El Observador.


FINALLY

THIS is a short video from Tabernas in Almería, cowboy country. From Verkami comes "A Fistful of Rubbish" Documentary Short Film. This is a modern-day environmental Western set in the Tabernas Desert. Europe's iconic desert now has a new villain...