Business over Tapas Nº 529

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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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Editorial:

If we can just play ‘catch-up’ here for a moment, know that there are two sides in the Cortes, the Spanish parliament. Following the election last summer, the PP took the most seats, but wound up with a minority that even an alliance with the far-right Vox wasn’t quite enough – just four votes short – to get them into power. Then the second party in number of deputies, the PSOE, took the opportunity to get all of the other groups, the briefly united left (or far-left), plus the nationalists and the Catalonian secessionists, to agree to vote in Pedro Sánchez as president. Only, the secessionists, the Junts per Catalunya (and to a lesser degree, the ERC), said they would pull out unless an amnesty over the independence events (and bogus referendum) of 2017 were shelved. All forgiven and forgotten.

Says the Financial Times here: ‘Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has broken a parliamentary deadlock by striking a fresh amnesty deal with Catalan separatists aimed at protecting them from terrorism charges. A neat move, taking advantage of an EU definition of ‘terrorism’ narrower than Spain’s’. The PP had hoped to find support for their efforts against the amnesty from the European Commission for Democracy through Law (known as The Venice Commission) but the opinion from this body is that amnesties are acceptable in a democracy, thus stymying the efforts of the Spanish conservatives to weaken the government and even cause fresh (and likely winnable) elections.

“Thank you to the Popular Party and the Senate for requesting this report. Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” the Minister of Justice, Félix Bolaños, said last week with a smile on his face. The director of elDiario.es describes the PP as being ‘victims of their own propaganda’ here.

Pedro Sánchez reacted to the news during an official visit to Chile by saying that the current legislation will now last the full four years – as elements of the judiciary continue to seek ways to bring the edifice tumbling down.

The exiled leader of Junts Carles Puigdemont, living peacefully enough in Belgium, ‘celebrated the outcome with a tweet in which he thanked the PSOE for its “willingness”, but also announced that he has no intention of stopping there. “Now, self-determination. We have every right to continue the independence process”, he crowed. The amnesty (presumably passed in a vote today, Thursday), will now be slowed down (if not stopped) by the PP-controlled Senate before passing into law somewhere in late May or June.

A protest was held in Madrid on Sunday against the amnesty. The PP and Vox were both at the event. Many Spanish flags were waved by the protestors, as they do.

The next important subject is the budget for 2024. Other proposals for this legislation include a ban on prostitution and the recognition of Palestine as a country.

The lesson is that a small party with just five deputies has managed to hold to ransom the government of a modern democracy. But what would have been the price to pay, we wonder, if the Partido Popular had have won the summer elections with the help of Vox?

For example, the far-right Voxers wants to ban all nationalist parties.

It looks like we might get a clue of how this could have played following the results this Sunday in Portugal with a hung-parliament and the far-right Chega taking third place.

Housing:

Hugh Grosvenor, the 33-year-old Duke of Wellington, is reported to be selling up his possessions in Spain says El Español here. These are ‘four office buildings in Madrid: the Idom engineering headquarters in Montecarmelo; the Naturgy headquarters on Avenida de América, the Titan 8 building and the MB One property both in La Moraleja. He also owns the La Garganta farm in Almodóvar del Campo (Ciudad Real), considered at 15,000 hectares to be one of the largest estates in Spain’.

Infobae finds an Englishwoman who says she has lived in Spain for five years and would never move back to the United Kingdom. ‘Every time I return to the UK, I encounter reverse culture-shock. And it’s not just the weather, but about the lifestyle in general’ she tells the newspaper. She praises life in Spain on her TikToc account, featured within the article.

Idealista brings us ‘The towns and cities where the cadastral values will change in 2024. Towns in provinces such as Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Valencia, Almería, Cantabria, Burgos and Salamanca will undergo changes’.

Tourism:

Aena plans to build five airport hotels in the next three years, in the Madrid-Barajas, Barcelona-El Prat, Málaga, Valencia and Seville airports. Última Hora has the story.

‘The President of the Valencian Community Carlos Mazón ‘accuses the Government of leading Alicante to “tourist collapse” since it has ruled out a second runway despite the fact that the volume of passengers already amounts to 16 million a year, three more than the Málaga airport enjoyed when it was expanded back in 2012’. El Mundo reports here.

From INews here: ‘British tourists in Spain face protests and anti-foreigner graffiti. Some locals across Spain feel that their towns and cities are becoming invaded by tourists who do not respect their customs and lives’.

Málaga, says Diario Sur here, is being covered with stickers against tourist apartments (AT) with various joke stickers using those letters (‘AnTes esa era mi casa’ or ‘Apestando a Turista’ and so on). It’s all part of the larger ‘Guiris Go Home’ (street theatre) movement apparently.

Seniors:

There are many Germans who move to Mallorca after retiring in search of a mild climate. However, the dream of an endless vacation in the sun can easily end in loneliness and poverty, explains Roland Werner, head of the “Herztat” foundation, an aid organization for German emigrants, not only to help those who wish to remain on the Spanish island, but also to allow them to return home if necessary. “I estimate that in Mallorca there are about 2,000 German-speaking seniors who feel lonely, and the trend is increasing,” says Werner, who offers pensioners a point of contact through his foundation. But often that is no longer enough. “Some are in an emergency situation and are totally unattended,” he explains…’ More at El Boletín here.

Finance:

From SVI here: ‘Member states reveal what happens if you work in the EU/EEA without a work permit’. The article warns that ‘Underscoring the risks associated with unauthorised employment, the EU/EEA countries have said that strict measures apply for both unauthorised foreign workers and employers. These measures include deportation and a ban from re-entering the European Union, along with potential fines and imprisonment depending on the severity of the breach…’

‘Two out of three hospitality companies investigated by labour inspections are found in fault’. In a sub-heading, Epe adds, ‘Waiters complain about their hours and salaries: “Whoever finds an alternative leaves the hospitality industry”’. Low wages, long hours, social security issues, issues with tips, payments in undeclared cash and so on…

From El Economista here: ‘The Government plans to encourage the return of 1.7 million Spaniards living abroad. A new sub-delegation called ‘Ciudadanía Española en el Exterior y Políticas de Retorno’ has been formed to serve emigrated Spanish workers in the expectation of recovering a workforce with experience abroad’

Mercadona earns profits of 1,000 million euros in 2023, 40% up on the previous year, and invoices 35,500 million. The supermarket chain controls 27.6% of all domestic food sales says La Vanguardia here.

Politics:

The latest poll on intention of vote for El País says that the PP has grown at the expense of Vox and that the PSOE remains steady. PP: 35%; PSOE: 31%; Sumar 11% and Vox 11%.

Following from France making abortion a constitutional right (the first country in the world to do so), the left-wing Sumar group in the government would like Spain to follow suit says Público here. It would nevertheless appear to be an uphill battle with even the Minister for Equality Ana Redondo saying that ‘the time isn’t yet ripe for this initiative’.

From El Mundo, we read that Alberto Núñez Feijóo and the leaders of the 14 PP-controlled regions have approved the ‘Declaration of Córdoba’ against the “political corruption of the PSOE”. ‘They say that “the greatest attack on equality among Spaniards and the rule of law” has been carried out with the Ley de Amnistía’.

Another new political party (that’s going nowhere): ‘Cree, the new centre party led by Edmundo Bal that will fight the European elections’. Europa Press here. Edmundo was the guy who lost out in the last Ciudadanos primaries. Ciudadanos, by the way, are also presenting a candidature in the European Elections (June 9th). No, we 1,200,000 (2016 latest figures!) Brit residents in the EU won’t be voting.

Euskera elections April 21

In early news, ‘In 2019 they ran in the municipal elections of Lúcar (Almería) and Almería capital, and in 2022 they did the same with the Parliament of Andalucía, in coalition with Recortes Cero. Two years later, Izquierda por Almería surprised everyone by announcing its candidacy in the Galician elections for the province of Lugo.

The Provincial Electoral Board denied its candidacy because none of the 14 members that made up the list were registered as living in (or coming from) Galicia.

The leader of the party, Juan Andrés Ruiz, went on a hunger strike as a sign of protest, and sent letters to the Congress of Deputies and the President of the Government in which he denounced the situation. The petitions department of the Lower House processed the claim but has not yet given a response. With the elections to the Basque Parliament called for April 21, the party will try its luck once again, this time for Álava (one of the four Basque provinces). They maintain the same list that tried to run for Lugo with some extra candidates to bring it up to 28’. ECD has the story.

Catalonia:

Pere Aragonès, the president of the Generalitat, the regional government in Catalonia, has called for early elections for the region to be held on May 12tth following a government defeat over the 2024 budget. 20Minutos has the story.

……

Portugal:

‘Portugal just killed the most popular Golden Visa in Europe. Here’s where wealthy Americans are flocking instead’ (France and Spain, says the article at Forbes here).

The socialists and conservatives were very close in the election results this Sunday, the conservative Alianza Democrática edging in front (by just 1%). The third party in votes, with 18%, was the far-right Chega (it sounds like something you find in your boots when you’re not wearing socks). Will Luís Montenegro, the leader of AD, go it alone with a minority government or allow the Chega into his government?

Health:

Cigarettes are to increase in price and a reduction in places where they can be enjoyed says La Voz de Galicia here.

Corruption:

As the Koldo scandal continues, what news from the Madrid Regional Government? Isabel Díaz Ayuso’s handling of the pandemic has been in question for some time, between her brother making a killing on the face-masks and her refusal to allow the elderly trapped in the residencies a chance to survive the Coronavirus by being removed to a hospital (‘they would have died anyway’ she says). On Tuesday we read at elDiario.es that ‘Ayuso’s partner defrauded Hacienda of 350,951 euros with a scheme of false invoices and shell companies. The Prosecutor’s Office denounces in court two crimes of tax fraud and one of document falsification that the Hacienda attributes to the partner of the president of Madrid to avoid paying taxes on his million-dollar businesses during the pandemic’. By Wednesday, the scandal has grown, with Ayuso answering questions to the media and defending her companion from a ‘totally unfair and politically-motivated audit’. The couple bought an apartment in Madrid for one million euros back in 2022 and there are questions over the acquisition. El Plural says that the boyfriend ‘in two years and with no employees managed to bill 3.5 million euros’ – apparently, says the news-site – ‘with fake receipts and bogus companies’.

And to square the circle, a report at El Español says that the boyfriend – Alberto Gónzalez Amador – ‘received a commission of almost two million euros from one of the companies being investigated in the Caso Koldo.

Courts:

From El Mundo here: ‘The Guardia Civil has arrested 16 employees of companies that operate the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport for allegedly stealing during the last year items whose value exceeds 120,000 euros from travellers’ checked luggage, including bags, jewellery, clothing and electronic devices…’

From El País in English here: ‘The metamorphosis of jihadism in Spain. The current Islamist threat includes more women, more minors and variations in the sociological profile of terrorists compared to 2004’.

Ecology:

G’s España, a multinational from Torre Pacheco (Murcia), is sanctioned with the highest fine available – 1,100,000€ – for illegal discharges and environmental damage to the Mar Menor’. La Verdad has the story here.

‘More than 200,000 people suffer from tap water contaminated by agricultural and livestock remains. A review of data carried out by Ecologistas en Acción indicates that 171 municipalities in 13 autonomous communities exceed the health protection thresholds for nitrates. Spain currently has a process pending before the European Court of Justice for the excess of this compound in its waters’. elDiario.es reports here.

Various:

On March 11th 2004, bombs were placed in four trains in the Atocha and two other stations in Madrid. 193 people died and around 2,000 were injured, making it the largest terrorist outrage in Europe in modern times (Wiki). This was just three days before the general elections and the ruling PP insisted that the outrage had been caused by ETA, despite evidence that the attack came from Arab terrorists opposed to the Spanish presence in the war in Iraq. This week, a full interview made at the time with President George W Bush has surfaced. The tape was doctored by the Spanish TV (in it, Bush had blamed the Arab terrorists). Despite the insistence by the government that ETA were the villains, the events brought the PSOE with Rodríguez Zapatero to power.

From Maldita here: ‘Spain only grants dual nationality to those countries with which it has a signed agreement, as is the case of Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking Latin American countries. Regular Spanish nationality can be obtained through five procedures: by residence, origin, letter of nature, possession of the State or by option says the article. Among the double nationality group, we find two senior politicians – Felipe González and José Bono, who both engineered for themselves passports from the Dominican Republic, which, says El Debate (June 2022) here, ‘allows them to enjoy succulent tax advantages’. Felipe actually has three nationalities, being also a Colombian passport holder since 2014. He was of course born in Seville (Wiki).

Telecinco brings an odd tradition in some parts of Murcia: when a death occurs, the family pays for a car with a loudspeaker to drive around announcing the passing of the family-member, with accolades and other material shouted out to the passers-by. The service is even included in most life-insurance policies signed in that region. With video.

From Think Spain here: ‘A ground-breaking new customer service law has finally been approved by Spain’s Council of Ministers after being shelved for nearly two years. The right to speak to a human rather than a machine, a limit of three minutes for being kept on hold on the telephone, and a requirement for complaints to be resolved within two weeks are included in the new Law of Customer Assistance Services, which the government began working on in November 2021…’

If there was a war in Europe, then the Spanish Constitution allows for conscription.

La Cope introduces us to a microstate between Spain and Portugal called la República de Couto Mixto which lasted a full 700 years until 1868. With video. Wiki has more here.

The Olive Press considers the tourist tax here: ‘Jose Maria Bellido, the Mayor of Córdoba, says that its historic Mesquita receives around two million visitors a year – and that the numbers are growing. He said that Córdoba was in an ‘intermediate situation’ in terms of tourism saturation. However, he said he would not rule out a tourism tax “in the near future.” It comes after Málaga and other cities have already called for the tax – which is typically charged per person, per day, by whichever accommodation they are staying in…’

From Fascinating Spain here: ‘The Spanish buildings that succumbed to the Great Lisbon earthquake of 1755’ (Thanks to Colin). ‘The Great Lisbon Earthquake’ is at Wiki here.

Êttandâ pal andalûh or Andalusian as she is spoke, at Wikipedia here.

Finally:

In our regular slot to find the most interesting of Latin music, we come across an Andalusian folk/rock/flamenco group with the odd name of Califato ¾ here on YouTube performing Lô Amantê de Çan Pablo (‘the lovers of Saint Paul’, rendered in, er, andalûh). Cracking stuff!

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