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
Spain’s General Election
The General Election brought a strange and frustrating result from the voters: in short, no one won. Briefly, the PP got the most seats, but even with the support of Vox, it wasn’t enough. If anyone could be said to have triumphed, perhaps, it was those who didn’t want a far-right presence in the government.
The PP won 136 seats (176 needed to win). They increased their vote handsomely from 89 deputies in 2019. Their potential partner – Vox – fell from last time’s 52 to just 33 seats – giving a combination for the right-wing of 169.
Not. Quite. There.
Maybe, says Feijóo, the PSOE will abstain, and let us govern.
What, without Vox, you mean? With just 136 seats out of 350?
The PSOE also increased its number of parliamentarians, if only by two. Their numbers now stand at 122. Their natural ally – they’re joined at the hip – is Sumar, bringing them a further 31.
Looked at one way, PSOE/Sumar is 153.
Also. Not. Enough.
Thus, one must rely on the ‘independents’. Again. That’s to say, ERC, Junts, EH Bildu, PNV, BNG, CCa and UPN. By Tuesday, EH Bildu (six deputies) confirmed that they’ll vote unconditionally for Pedro Sánchez’ candidature.
The percentage of votes on Sunday was 70.4%. Of the sum of votes, the PP took 33% and the PSOE took 31.7% (the large disparity in deputies – 136 versus 122 – is down to the peculiar system used to adjudicate seats).
So now what?
Will the various regional minnows try to charge too high a price to allow Pedro Sánchez to return as president? Will there be fresh elections this autumn? Will Pedro Sánchez unaccountably allow Alberto Núñez Feijóo to be president with a minority government? Will the army take over (just kidding)?
The key to Pedro Sánchez returning to power is the necessary support (or at least abstention) of Junts Per Catalunya (seven deputies), the party of exiled Carles Puigdemont now led by Míriam Nogueras. How expensive is that going to be? The most likely answer to that question is: another referendum for Catalonian independence.
The count-down begins, with the King inviting the parliamentary spokespeople to forward a candidate for president on August 21st, with the investiture in early September. Maybe.
No one wants another election, but what else is there? Maybe someone will blink first.
At the tepid victory party of the Partido Popular in their headquarters in Madrid, some voices were heard calling ‘Ayuso, Ayuso, Ayuso…’. How long can Feijóo last with the conservative’s secret and unstoppable weapon waiting impatiently in the aisles?
Meanwhile, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union remains in Pedro Sánchez’ safe hands (no doubt, for the duration).
‘These are the cheapest coastal towns in Spain to buy a home’, says 20Minutos here. The average price per M2 on the Med coast for new builds is as low (says the article) as 1,112€M2 in Gandia (Alicante), while Cartagena (Murcia) stands at 1,192€M2. Where I live (not much of a beach, a university, few foreign Europeans and no hotels) in a suburb outside Almería, the rate is 1,021€M2.
The British media seem keen to underline the down-side of Spanish tourism, from worries about one’s UK passport here and here, random ‘spot-checks’ for Brits here, bikini-bans here, ‘beach-hoggers’ here, shark-alerts here, ‘heat-alerts’ here, ‘illegal cocktails’ here, a hotel laundry-workers strike here, a black-fly (no-see-ums) plague here and a super-bug which is apparently laying British tourists low ‘…as illness surges through Spain tourist hotspots’ here. Probably better to stay home and watch the telly?
But, never mind, we wanted wealthy tourists anyway… From Sur in English here: ‘This is the video that showcases the luxury tourism offerings of the Costal del Sol
Tourism · A new website has been launched – available in Spanish, English, Arabic and Hindi – aimed at holidaymakers, tour operators, agencies and other key players in the top-end of the travel market’ (Note: it doesn’t open in Firefox).
What’s the deal with adult-only or couples-only hotels? ECD looks into their legality here. Around half of all visitors to Spain are 45 or older says the article, and a nice quiet hotel is understandably in their sights. While these hotels are in breach of the Spanish Constitution (discriminatory to children), the promotion is made to appear unattractive to those with nippers (no kids’ menus, no cots, no cartoon TV and so on. No shallow end perhaps?).
The cheapest hotel room in Spain – is free. It’s the Zero Suite, a comfortable room in the Paradiso Art Hotel in Ibiza. You can only stay there for one night and it’s fully booked until sometime next year. The gimmick? It’s a well-appointed room surrounded by glass and erected in the hotel lobby. El Mundo has the story and pictures.
From El Confidencial here: ‘The IMF raises its forecast for 2023 by one point (2.5%) and Spain will grow three times as much as the euro-zone. Our country is leading the momentum of the euro-zone, which is definitively leaving the recession behind despite the drag from Germany. For 2024, the national economy will slow down slightly to 2% growth’.
From Cinco Días here: ‘The Banco Santander has closed the best first half-year in its history. The entity has presented a profit of 5,241 million euros between January and June, which represents 7.1% more than in the same period of 2022…’
From The Guardian here: ‘Spain elections: hung parliament after conservatives fail to secure expected majority. The conservative Partido Popular and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialists both declare victory, with weeks of negotiations likely ahead’. From elDiario.es here: Feijóo won’t be able to form a government, while Sánchez probably can.
The largest party that got no seats, by the way (and beating in number of votes three regional parties that have representation) was Pacma, the eccentric animalist party. Thus the vagaries of the Spanish voting system. The parties which have disappeared from the Congreso: CUP and Teruel Existe (and Ciudadanos, which didn’t contend). When it comes to ‘lost votes’ – those not credited because the count is provincial include Sumar with 600,000 lost votes, Vox with 486,000 and Pacma with 166,000. An interactive map at elDiario.es shows the percentage of votes ‘lost’ by province. With an ‘every vote counts system’, the results would have been different – 14 more for Sumar, 16 less for the PP.
In passing, Vox won’t be presenting any more motions of censure for a while, as one needs 50 deputies minimum for this (and they are sadly reduced to just 33).
The Times says, with some justification, ‘Despite topping the polls, the Popular Party has been tainted by association with the far right’. Borja Sémper (PP party spokesman) acknowledges that the agreements with Vox have taken their toll on the PP. He calls on the PSOE ‘to be responsible and support a Feijoó government to avoid electoral repetition’. As the joke goes: ¡Que se abstenga, Txapote!
On Friday, the votes from Spaniards living abroad (‘el Voto CERA’) will be examined, and there may be a few changes to the posted results. El Huff Post explains here. With the PP just 1758 votes shy of taking a seat from the PSOE in Madrid, all eyes are on Friday’s revelations (a result here would turn the whole election upside-down). 2,328,261 Spaniards with voting rights are registered as living abroad (Galicians and Madrileños leading in numbers). The final and unalterable results for the elections will be published on August 1st.
The Government is now on vacation until late August.
Over in the Senado (the other, slightly forgotten vote), the result was a comfortable majority for the PP with 120 of the 208 seats.
There were an endless number of items about Feijóo and his apparent friendship with Marcial Dorado (a narco currently in prison) during the last week of the campaigning. Feijóo eventually admitting that he thought Dorado was ‘a smuggler’. The full story on Marcial Dorado is at Maldita here.
The Guardian reminds us of the rise of Pedro Sánchez, ‘…a brilliant tactician capable of audacious political manoeuvres’.
‘Catalan pro-independence parties hold key to Pedro Sánchez Prime Ministerial bid. Junts has decisive role but warns that “right now” there will not be any support for Socialists’. Item from Catalan News here.
From New Line Magazine here: ‘The Rock at the End of the British Empire. As Spain and Gibraltar residents fight about its future, the battle is a cautionary tale for small communities in a world of big trade’. It says ‘…Gibraltar’s residents did not want to leave the EU, voting overwhelmingly to stay in the 2016 referendum. Yet they are now hostages to a political choice they did not make, waiting for a resolution over which they have limited control, buffeted by events in London and Madrid…’
From The Guardian here: ‘Soaring temperatures may signal the decline of summer holidays to the Mediterranean. Tourists are choosing milder destinations such as Ireland and Denmark as the heat-wave over southern Europe leads to sea temperatures of up to 30ºc in Spain’.
The very day after the elections, when the Junta per Catalunya party is key for a Pedro Sánchez government, what does the Supreme Court (held hostage by the PP) do? It posts an international warrant for the arrest of Carles Puigdemont.
The former police chief José Manuel Villarejo, accused of trying to discredit some of Spain’s most high-profile politicians and business leaders, has (finally) been sentenced to 19 years in prison. Villarejo, accused of involvement in a network of corrupt politicians, businesspeople and media figures known as the “sewers of the state”, was sentenced for the crimes of revealing secrets and falsifying a commercial document…’ Item from The Times here (Thanks to Colin).
All water under the bridge now, but the final debate on RTVE between three of the four main candidates (Feijóo didn’t go) on Wednesday evening attracted more than four million viewers. Ana Rosa Quintana from Telecinco was asked ‘did you see the debate?’ on her show and her answer was ‘What debate?’ Now that’s journalism! (Not).
From a letter to subscribers from the director of elDiario.es here: ‘…I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. The vast majority of the main media are owned by banks, funds, large companies and major communication groups. Almost all of them are guilty of having whitewashed the ultras while being under the control of the agenda set by the right. It is enough to see how far their polls were wrong – those prophecies they had hoped to impose – from what really happened…’
For our amusement only – some examples from the right-wing media losing their rattles following the election results.
La Voz del Sur reports water shortages in some pueblos in the Málaga Axarquía, while other parts of the Costa del Sol (and its visitors) are threatened by possible water-cuts. Then, says the article, there are all those swimming pools and golf courses consuming large amounts of water.
There are a number of web-cams overlooking the Doñana National Park here. One of the cameras is at Santa Olalla lagoon and is recording its rapid demise, says Diario de Huelva here, which reports ‘The agony of the last great lagoon of Doñana’. La Voz del Sur agrees – this lagoon will be dry in a couple of weeks.
From 20Minutos here: ‘Sharks on the coast, jellyfish in the Mar Menor, storks that no longer migrate… this is how climate change is affecting the animal kingdom’.
Examples of the Giant African Snail have been found tearing around Tenerife to the concern of the ecologists, who say that these creatures threaten the local plant-life. They can grow to a good size, judging by the photos at Canaries7 here.
The Emeritus Juan Carlos I is briefly returned to Sanxenxo (Pontevedra) to go boating says El Cierre Digital here.
From Citizens Advice Bureau here, ‘The Carta de Invitación and why we should let sleeping dogs lie’. Sound advice, we think…
Good news for temporary residents in Spain: Permits no longer revoked if you leave the country for over six months says The Olive Press here.
Becoming an EU Citizen by Marriage: How long does it take? SVI has the answers here.
There are 9.3 million domestic doggies in Spain – and now they must all be insured for civil responsibility (thanks to a new law) by the end of September says Infobae here. The first insurer I found on Google is here.
‘Vatican documents dating from 1590 certify that building a Cathedral in the Mosque of Córdoba was a “bad idea”’. El Correo del Golfo has the story here.
The Living Philosophy brings us ‘The Mythical History of Camino de Santiago. The history and mythology of Europe’s greatest hiking trail’. A full and interesting article.
Overtourism plagues Europe. 539 million travellers came to Europe last year. Video from Arte TV here.
If you like alioli, you probably know the Choví brand. According to El Mundo, the Choví family, from Benifaió (Valencia) are to alioli what Heinz is to ketchup or HP is to sauce.
The elections. The Chorizo Chronicles isn’t very pleased by the results…
Some agua stories at Spanish Shilling here.
Conde Nast Traveller offers ‘Málaga: the unsung Spanish city undergoing a renaissance. This coastal city is back in the game following an arty resurgence, hot new restaurants and a spattering of stylish places to stay’.
From Sur in English here: ‘Walking the Andalucía region’s most striking coastline. Hiking under the blazing sun is to be avoided or left to mad dogs and Englishmen, but with a little preparation one can enjoy several coastal walks in the sun-scorched corner of Cabo de Gata in Almería. Following the paths which run high above the cliffs, or that twist and turn by the sea is a delight’.
The Majorca Daily Bulletin’s ‘top five favourite villages’: Valldemossa, San Telmo, Sa Rapita, Bunyola and Banyalbufar. Here.
Join us for La Sandunga (the Day of the Dead) with Tempus Quartet on YouTube here.