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

21/02/22. 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...


The Castilla y León elections duly went forward on Sunday and the results were a victory for the right.

Or maybe, as we shall see, for the far-right.
The Partido Popular rose by two seats to 31 and the PSOE fell by seven to 28. The problem for the PP is that they can no longer count on a partnership with Ciudadanos (which has all but disappeared anyway with just one seat remaining) and they must therefore pact with Vox with its 13 seats. Andalucía’s president Juanma Moreno Bonilla will have taken note.
The focus is on Pablo Casado. His plan to push certain regional elections forward in the hope of showing his strength has backfired. His party rival Ayuso won Madrid handily, but the CyL election has driven some PP support towards Vox while other fringe parties have arrived on the stage (the various ‘regionalist’ groups and others took seven seats between them, mainly drained from the PSOE, with ¡Soria Ya! taking 40% of the vote in that province). In short, with hindsight, the election should never have been called.
The Vox leader in the region is 31 year old Juan García-Gallardo, known for his xenophobic and homophobic tweets. Will he be able to calm down and be – as his price for supporting the PP government in Valladolid – a useful vice-president? His two non-negotiable conditions: drop the ‘left-wing’ regional laws on gender violence and the decree on historic memory (which is to do with revealing excesses from the Franco regime). No insistence from Vox, it says here, for something a bit more practical – like more schoolteachers or doctors, or better roads or working conditions for farmers…
A poisoned chalice indeed. As we read here: ‘Sr Casado, you may now kiss the bride’.
With Vox finally in government as an acceptable partner of the PP, will those who stay at home on the left continue to do so in future elections?
About the only other choice for Mañueco, if he doesn’t invite Vox to join, is to form a minority PP government, with the other parties called on as necessary for specific points (on a quid pro quo basis, no doubt). The decision must be made and the government formed by the end of May.
Or maybe – ah… fresh elections?


The new Housing Law limits the periodic rise in rents for those who own over ten properties – mainly banks, vulture funds and sundry other wealthy landlords… La Razón lists the top owners here. They are CaixaBank with 25,000 rentals, Blackstone operating in Spain as Testa Home (20,000), the Sareb (14,600), Lazorla, Ares, AXA IM, Vivenio, Témpore, Cevasa and Stay… Major foreign players include the American-owned Testa Homes and Anticipa (both Blackstone), plus Ares Management, TPG (Témpore), Stay and Cerberus Capital; the French have AXA and the Dutch Vivenio.

The ten most expensive barrios to rent in Spain are listed at La Razón here.

From Spanish Property Insight here: ‘New tax law punishing buyers, so check how much ITP tax you have to pay before committing to buy a property in Spain’.

‘Foreign buying driving up house prices in the Balearics’ says The Majorca Daily Bulletin.

The Lista is the new Andalusian housing law, which eases the rules on new builds in the region. From the ABC, we read that homes can now be built in the countryside, with two stories, under certain conditions.  ‘The new Andalusian land law allows single-family houses with up to two floors to be built in the countryside, as the new Lista rules establish new conditions for building on rustic land’. Diario Sur warns here that one can only build on rustic land of a certain size – ‘it only allows to build an isolated house on a plot equivalent in size to more than three football fields’.

The call from the ecologists to tear down the urbanisation at Isla Valdecañas has caused a furious mediatic reaction against them, they bewail. Ecologistas en Acción are just calling on the law to be observed, they say.  The story continues at Post Digital here.

Some thoughts on old rural properties at Eye on Spain here.


With all the fuss about the Spanish banks and their high costs to the customer (and poor service), the Correos thinks it’s time to offer banking facilities. From Merca2 here: ‘With 4,652 branches and the prospect of having some 1,700 ATMs in the next three years, Correos is clear that an important part of its future lies in being, de facto, the new bank in Spain. The current context of the financial sector leaves the Post Office in a prime position to win the hearts of citizens by contributing decisively to maintaining access to fundamental financial services…’.

From Think Spain here: ‘Spain’s government has increased the minimum wage after striking a deal with national unions, a move that will affect at least 1.8 million workers. … Now, the gross figure is €1,000 a month in 14 payments, or €14,000 a year before tax for a full-time, 40-hour-a-week job. If this is received in 12 payments, a minimum wage-earner will now be taking home approximately €1,029 after taxes and other deductions. Pay rises will be backdated to January 1st and, as it is likely they will already be included in wage slips at the end of February, these will also include the additional figure for January…’. From The Nomad Today here: ‘Jobs most benefited by the new increase in the Spanish minimum wage. The second increase in the minimum wage in Spain in less than half a year will be approved by the government by means of a decree and without the consensus of all the social agents’. The SMI (el salario mínimo interprofesional) is the subject of an editorial at elDiario.es which says – only a few years ago during the last boom, being a mileurista wasn’t much to write home about, but now we are grateful to make that much a month.

The Government is tinkering with the system of monthly payments from the self-employed. elDiario.es says that the minister is talking with the ATA (the conservative autónomos union). The latest suggestion is to lower the high-end monthly contributions to a maximum 991€ and raise (over an earlier plan) the lower-end ones to a minimum 214€.

From Euronews here: ‘How billions from Europe's recovery fund are set to transform Spain's economy’.


‘The continued blockade of the General Council of the Judiciary (by the PP) lowers Spain to the second rank of democracies’ says La Vanguardia here, quoting The Economist. ‘Spain has lost the category of "full democracy" in the index of democratic quality that The Economist prepares annually by a tenth of a point, and joins the category of "defective democracy". Spain goes from 8.12 points in 2020 to 7.94 in 2021, and that means leaving the first division, led with an ample margin by Norway, with a score of 9.75 out of 10…’.

From The Guardian here: ‘Snap election called by conservative Partido Popular backfires as it fails to secure absolute majority’. The election being, of course, in Castilla y León.

‘The electoral debacle in CyL takes Ciudadanos even further to the cleaners: losing 40% of their public funding in just three elections. The party led by Inés Arrimadas loses out on more than four million euros after the three regional disasters in Castilla y León, in Catalonia and in Madrid. This leaves the party little more than flat broke for the general election next year’. The story at El Español (paywall) here.

From ABC here: ‘Juan Marín confirms that in Andalucía “there are not going to be elections; we are going to continue until the end of the current legislature”. The vice president of the Junta and regional coordinator of Ciudadanos insists that the elections in Castilla-León "have nothing to do with Andalucía"’. Not that it’s for Marín to decide, but the president of Andalucía, Juanma Moreno, will no doubt agree with him. ECD says the thinking in the Junta de Andalucía is to keep going until January 2023.

The ABC says that, back in the Madrid Region, Isabel Díaz Ayuso thinks that the results in CyL are ‘worrisome’ and that the next PP congress needs to be brought forward.

Several solutions to the CyL issue appear – anything to keep Vox away from the game. A senior PSOE official suggests that the PSOE should abstain if the PP wants to go it alone with a minority government. Pedro Sánchez says that if the PP want our help then they must drop all links with Vox in any and all autonomies and explain why – ‘if the PP wants a hard border against the far-right, then let them say so’.

Comment from Gerardo Tecé at ctxt here: ‘The day has finally arrived where we accept as normal that the extreme right occupies government seats in Spain. The effort, consisting of normalizing what in other places is considered a virus for democracy, has been relatively simple, since the necessary tools already existed. Thousands of hours of television giving voice to the bulos and hatred until it is accepted as another entertainment content. Radio gatherings on progressive channels like the Ser, which happily balance every morning a social democratic discourse like that offered by Podemos with one of venom like the one from Vox. “The extremes touch each other” say the brainy analysts without anyone in charge raising their voice to exclaim “but what the hell are you're saying?” Newspapers wasting ink denouncing bloody scandals like the one in which an adviser to Irene Montero held the minister's daughter in her arms during a rally. Zero tolerance for corruption. Not a drop of ink, however, to point out the links between Santiago Abascal's party and the neo-Nazi movements…’.

Vox has proposed tightening up the laws on naturalisation in the Cortes. All the other parties reacted against this suggestion, called it ‘racist’. Obtaining Spanish citizenship is a glacial process as it is, without (as Vox suggests) having to wait fifteen years to begin the process. Well, and even then… ‘Having a DNI does not mean being Spanish”, claims the extreme right. “Spain is a historic project that cannot be open to just anyone” (El País here).


‘Au revoir to au pairs from Europe?’ West Country Voices looks at the end of the au pair and the loss to all concerned. ‘…This is what an au pair’s job can be: an unparalleled opportunity for a young person with no money to experience life in a different country, both at the micro and macro-levels. I left Madrid the following July not only fluent in Spanish and with a taste for tapas, but newly aware that people at the opposite end of the spectrum from me in terms of wealth and politics could still be kind, generous, good people. And my Spanish family learned that a spiky-haired English girl with bizarre clothes could nevertheless be a reliable, loving, playful companion for their daughters, besides being an excellent cake-maker…’.


How the media, which for many years hid any moral turpitude on the part of senior figures in Spain, decided to switch its standards when Podemos came along in 2014. There were the endless fabricated scandals reported in the newspapers (repudiated quietly months later) and then ‘…that insurmountable line that had never been crossed, that of one’s private life, was blurred in the case of Podemos, especially with respect to its leader and Vice President of the Government, Pablo Iglesias, and his wife and current Minister of Equality, Irene Montero. False information and opinion columns dealing with alleged infidelities and separations, persecution of family members, attempts to create sexual scandals by questioning female students from the time when Iglesias was a university professor, photographs of intimate moments such as funerals or visits to the hospital, and an endless parade of miserable attitudes, such as the siege around the home of the couple that continued for months by groups of far-rightists together with reporters who cheered along the blatant harassment…’. The fuill article is here at RT.

There was a trial going on at recently against a reporter from OKDiario who for a month had been harassing the nanny and the twin babies of the Podemos couple. He wasn’t looking for a story, claimed the accusation, but was merely seeking to disrupt the parents’ concentration. Who came up with that idea? Later, we read that the journalist in question has been absolved of wrongdoing by the court as ‘the Iglesias-Montero couple are not direct victims of the crime of harassment, and therefore could not report it. And that, in addition, their decision to do so "deprived" the only possible victim, the children's caregiver, of her right to make a complaint’ (!).

Did you know you could buy editorial space in almost any newspaper – sometimes even without the dreaded ‘Sponsored Content’ label? Prensalink here has all the prices.  Even blogs are selling space through this company. Neeo brought this subject up here. They say: ‘Faced with the increasingly widespread use of advertising blocking programs and fierce competition from social networks, the media has found a new gold mine in sponsored articles: ads disguised as news. In some of the web pages, the information is included to say that the content is "offered by" the company in question, but these are in the minority…’ (You may have noticed the alarming number of news items about, for example, Mercadona articles). A second piece at Neeo looks at the commercial advantages of bringing in extra advertisers through increasing the volume of readers with sensational news and click-bait.

February 21st is the International Day of Kombucha (a sweet bubbly tea) says ECD in what can only be a tied article here. S’funny really, because February 21st is also the International Day of All Those People Who Are Called Lenox (or was that yesterday?).


Spain has lots of protected land, national parks and so on, and there are the ecologists out there keen to defend them. But our most prized reserves, the wetlands and the lagoons (Doñana, Damiel and the Mar Menor…) all seem to get short shrift. From The Guardian here: ‘Illegal strawberry farms threaten future of Spanish wetlands. Opponents say proposed amnesty for illegal water tapping in Doñana national park threatens disaster for one of Europe’s green lungs’. A vote later went through the Andalusian parliament which will regularise the illicit farms and wells that stretch across 1,460 hectares near the protected natural space. The move would help “safeguard historic rights and a traditional activity [practised] since time immemorial”. The PSOE-A – surprisingly – abstained. Madrid was not impressed, sending a note to Juanma Moreno, the Andalusian leader, warning him of the “enormous economic, environmental and external damage to Spain's image” (El País here).

From Xataca here: ‘The lack of water is not only due to the drought: it also comes in part from the impact of the electricity companies with their emptying of reservoirs’. A map shows the water reserves in the different areas of Spain.


‘The mayor of Madrid José Luis Martínez-Almeida renounces tens of millions of euros of European funds for housing in Spain’s capital city. The city hall only asks the Community of Madrid for 24 million to reform 12,000 houses out of a census of more than 1,200,000 that need repair’. We read that only four of the 131 neighbourhoods of the city will receive funding and that some 80 million euros was available. El País reports here.

A procurador is normally the court lawyer who hands over the papers and rulings from the judge. He’ll charge you for the pleasure though. Curiously, un procurador is also the old-fashioned name used in Castilla y León and also in Ávila for a councillor or deputy in the local or regional parliament. More at Wiki here.

More on second-hand cars and buyer’s protection at Spanish News Today here.

An article at Fascinating Spain looks at ‘the vestiges of British Menorca, as the island belonged to the British for more than 70 years’.

It’s long been a joke (at least, amongst us oldies) that the police look younger than ever. Now they can also be shorter than ever as a new rule from the Ministry of the Interior removes the height obligation for wannabe recruits says La Vanguardia here.

‘Andalucía’s ‘white towns’ were forged by past epidemics’, says National Geographic here. ‘Road-tripping through these Spanish villages reveals ancient traditions finding new life’. As always with NatGeo, wonderful photos!

A piece on the art of bull-leaping is at Eye on Spain here.

An article here at Thread Reader looks at the wonderful architecture of Ricardo Bofill. Lots of photos of this man’s work. The architect died last month at the age of 83 (Wiki).

The Olive Press presents five leading modern Spanish artists here.

See Spain:

ABC has an article on the Alcazaba in Badajoz which, it says, is the largest citadel of its type in Europe.

To while away an idle moment, Reddit has a page on Spain of mainly photographs here.


Sting released his new single – in Spanish – just in time for Valentine’s Day. It’s called Por su amor here on his website. Catchy?