CLICK HERE for our
FREE Weekly News Bulletin
Spanish News Today weekly round-up, 30th May 2014
Voters chastise main parties forcing resignations, while the health of the property market improves
The Spanish national news this week was dominated in the most part by the fallout from the European election results on Sunday, which served to show to what extent the country’s voters are disillusioned with the main PP and PSOE parties. Although the PP took some crumbs of comfort from the fact that they received more votes than their rivals, for the first time since the democracy the two main parties totaled under half of the votes, with secondary left-wing groups, some moderate and some more extreme, benefitting from the general disenchantment with the mainstream parties. Whether these results will be repeated at the next national elections is doubtful, but in the meantime they cost PSOE leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba his job: he announced his resignation on Tuesday.
Part of the reason cited in the Spanish media this week for this unprecedented level of dissatisfaction is the corruption which seemed to be rife in Spain during the construction boom years, and this was exemplified on Wednesday by the case of a former leading politician in the region of Valencia, Rafael Blasco. A 30-year political career which has always been dogged by corruption allegations now finally seems to be over following his being sentenced to eight years in prison for repeated misuse of public funds during his time in office.
And this week the government responded to criticism that it was failing to listen to the message of voters by confirming that it is modifying the citizen security law which has caused so much upset recently after legal experts warned that elements of the new legislation could be deemed unconstitutional.
The good news, though, is that the country’s economic recovery seems to be gaining momentum. This was confirmed during the week by the IMF, and if the tourist sector is anything to go by more good news is on the way during the rest of the year: foreign visitors to the country are spending more than ever in Spain this year so far. Another good sign is that spending on public works appears to be increasing, and in addition, the property sector seems to be reaching a point of stability at last after seven years of turmoil: for more details see below.
More welcome news is the confirmation from Europol that ETA remain dormant, and are respecting the ceasefire, although at the same time it appears that the group still hold caches of weapons in France.
Another interesting story this week concerned the developments at Castellón’s “ghost airport”, which now hopes to open before the end of the year and end Aena’s virtual monopoly on Spain’s airports through the investment of a Canadian management company. The airport was officially declared open over three years ago, but since then has been totally devoid of aircraft.
Elsewhere, the authorities are warning that the proliferation of fake brand clothes and accessories on sale in street markets is harming the country’s textiles sector, 500 more illegal immigrants made the crossing from Morocco into Melilla, placing tremendous strain on the immigrant transfer centre and forcing the government to ship in a further 100 emergency police and ship out immigrants to other centres on the Spanish mainland, illegally imported sexual performance enhancement medications were seized in raids all over Spain, and in an unusual move the head of Spanish tobacco distribution company Altadis took it upon himself to demand that taxes on cigarettes be increased in Gibraltar to try and stem the tide of illegal fakes which continue to flood into the country from all borders . As is normal, police continued to intercept further contraband tobacco products in airports, container ports and vehicles across Spain.
Others in the news this week include Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quijote, whose remains are being searched for in a Madrid church, as the geosurveying team move one step closer to finding the body of Spains best known writer. Old wounds have also been re-opened this week as unscrupulous fraudsters rekindle anger about horsemeat being sold as other meats, following a series of raids and arrests in several parts of Spain. At least they weren’t selling hamburgers containing cannabis, which seems to have been the case at an unfortunate barbecue in the province of Valencia.
Police have also been busy this week after 3 nights of rioting in Barcelona, caused by the eviction of twelve squatters from the "Can Vies" building, who have occupied the premises for 17 years. After several attempts to re-home them failed, police moved in on Monday and sparked off furious protests which resulted in dozens of containers and bins being burnt and street furniture destroyed.
To conclude, following jellyfish and angel sharks two weeks ago and a toilet snake last week, this week’s round-up ends with sea lions and beluga whales. Scientists at a Madrid university have published a study showing after a number of experiments, all of which involved feeding the animals fish, that marine mammals have the ability to count, putting them on a par with primates in their numerical ability.
It’s the time of year when millions all over Spain are filing their income tax declarations for 2013 – if you need a helping hand, call in a dolphin!
Spanish property news round-up, 30th May 2014
The good news for the Spanish residential property sector continues to come slowly, although gradually it seems that the trickle may be becoming a steady flow.
This week, for the first time in what seems a lifetime for property professionals (but is in fact only four years), the March figures showed that more mortgages on property purchases were granted by banks than in the same month the previous year. The increase was minimal – only 2% - and may be due to nothing more than Easter falling later this year, but at the same time it was reported that the amount of capital being loaned was also higher, and this makes it eminently possible that the banks may at last be starting to loosen the purse-strings.
If this is the case, then one of the constraining factors preventing any increase in demand can start to be removed, and this week also saw new statistics published by ST suggesting that market price stability may be with us in the near future. The year-on-year comparison still shows a decline, but most of that occurred in 2013 and is gradually working its way out of the twelve-month figures, and before too long timid growth now seems a genuine possibility.
Much has been made in recent months, and rightly so, of the stimulus provided to the market by foreign purchasers, but if proof were needed that they are generally interested in picking up bargains at rock-bottom prices then it came this week in the form of figures regarding the “residency for property purchases” scheme. In the first year of this initiative a paltry total of 72 people took up the offer, which is open to those who invest over half a million euros on Spanish property. The interest in Spanish property, as many suspected all along, stems from factors like location and price, not residence permits.
Elsewhere, Spain’s bad bank Sareb has begun the process of farming out its property portfolios to asset management and property companies, hoping in this way to speed up the process of selling off the homes it received from other banks last year, and the government has made an interesting move into the property market, trying to sell off a historic castle in Toledo for 9.6 million euros.
Interestingly, the asking price for the Castillo de la Vela is exactly the same as the last time it was put up for sale, when it failed to attract sufficient interest: if it sells this time round, that can be taken as a sure sign that the market is on the up!
Region of Murcia news round-up, 30th May 2014
There have been two main talking points in the news in Murcia this week: politics and the weather.
As in the rest of the country, the European election results in the Region of Murcia last Sunday showed the extent to which voters are unhappy with the performance over the last few years of the two major parties in national politics, the PP and the PSOE. In what may turn out to be either a protest vote or a dramatic overhaul of the entire political landscape, around half of the country’s voters ticked the boxes next to candidates from minority parties, and in the Region of Murcia the number of people supporting the ruling party, the PP was 45% down on the figure from five years ago, a similar result also recorded by the other main party, the PSOE. With local elections not far away, the Spanish media have obsessed all week over what this could mean in the future.
As for the weather, this was an unusual week in that in many parts of the Region of Murcia rain actually fell out of the sky on Wednesday. There wasn’t much of it, though, ( although parts of the altiplano may have a storm or two in the coming hours) and the drought of the last twelve months is now posing a serious threat to the Region’s agriculture, especially livestock farming (pasture land is practically non-existent in some areas) and crop cultivation in areas without irrigation. The national government has stepped in and announced aid packages, but unless it rains soon (and that’s not very likely over the summer) the situation will only get worse.
The lack of rain also means a greater risk of wildfires, and the Region of Murcia’s fire prevention plan has got under way earlier than usual this summer.
Of course, for those visiting Murcia on holiday a lack of rain is very much what they expect and hope for, and the latest figures show that more foreign visitors are spending more money in the Region than in 2013. Murcia accounts for only just over 1% of national foreign tourist expenditure, but the rate of increase this year is higher than in other areas and tourists from the UK have still spent 75 million euros in Murcia in the first four months of this year.
Elsewhere in Murcia this week it has to be said that news has been fairly thin on the ground, but three East European robbers were tracked down and arrested in Mazarrón, San Javier Town Hall is at last set to take over the Ciudad del Aire after a ten-year period of negotiations, a Los Alcázares butcher has been charged with treating his illegally employed workers like slaves and biologists from the ANSE ecological association in Cartagena have been taking part in a Mediterranean dolphin census.
Perhaps the most eye-catching miscreants during the week, though, have been Rumanians. Some are begging for money by pretending to be deaf – don’t be fooled, no associations are currently collecting for the deaf in the Region of Murcia – and earlier in the week a 14-year-old Rumanian stole a 4-by-4 in Bullas and then drove it all the way to Alhama de Murcia at high speed before the police finally managed to catch him and place him under arrest.
Region of Valencia news round-up, 30th May 2014
The news in the Comunitat Valenciana this week has been dominated by a few big stories, starting with the European elections last Sunday in which voters across the country expressed their dissatisfaction with the major PP and PSOE parties. The region of Valencia was no exception, and it will be extremely interesting to see whether this was just a protest vote or the trend will continue in the next municipal, regional and national elections.
Part of the reason for this dissatisfaction with the ruling classes is the corruption which often seems to be part and parcel of being a politician on Spain, and this was exemplified on Wednesday by the case of a former leading politician in the region of Valencia, Rafael Blasco. A 30-year political career which has always been dogged by corruption allegations now finally seems to be over following his being sentenced to eight years in prison for repeated misuse of public funds during his time in office.
Another ongoing story in the news is the drought in the south-east of Spain, and this week it was announced that central government will be supplying aid packages to stricken farmers in the province of Alicante and the neighbouring Region of Murcia. Unless it rains soon, though – and more than the light showers which fell on Wednesday – these packages may soon have to be supplemented with more help in order to save the region’s agriculture.
Another major story hitting the regional headlines (again) this week was the developments at Castellón’s “ghost airport”, which now hopes to open before the end of the year and end Aena’s virtual monopoly on Spain’s airports through the investment of a Canadian management company. The infrastructure was officially declared open over three years ago, but since then the Comunitat Valenciana’s third international airport has been totally devoid of aircraft.
If Castellón airport does eventually start bringing visitors to the region, it will be in competition not only with the airports of Valencia and Alicante, but also the high-speed rail network. This week the Madrid-Alicante line of the AVE service resumed normal service with more daily services than before, and in response low-cost airlines have been cutting the price of flights between the Costa Brava and the capital. This not only stimulates tourism in the area, but also offers residents in Alicante a cheap and quick means of visiting Madrid!
Still on the topic of tourism, various figures published this week show that although more tourists are coming to Valencia, they are not spending much more than in 2013, in spite of having spent nearly 1.2 billion euros in the region this year so far. However, the regional authorities are doing their best to attract more of the traditionally high-spending Russians by promoting the area in Moscow, and at the same time the new cruise ship port management team in Alicante appear to be achieving some success in their bid to tempt cruise liners back to the city.
In Pilar de la Horadada, meanwhile, the local council is concerned about the long-term future of the coastline, and are attempting to finance major infrastructures offshore in order to halt the process of erosion which every year makes it necessary for huge amounts of sand to be redistributed on the municipality’s beaches.
As always drugs have been in the news this week, with a vendor being arrested outside an Orihuela secondary school and eleven people needing hospital treatment after consuming barbecue food containing marijuana in Llanera de Ranes, in the province of Valencia.
Elsewhere, mains gas has finally reached parts of Torrevieja, in Orihuela illegally built properties have been subjected to fines rather than being demolished, and a mystery boat which appeared in La Vila Joiosa is puzzling police.
And in Alcoy, the perils of addiction to gambling were exemplified by a barman in the town centre who removed 1,400 euros from the till and fed them into the establishment’s slot machine. In an attempt to conceal his wrongdoings he then sliced his own arm open with a kitchen knife and claimed he had been the victim of violent robbers, making such a good job of it that the wound needed sixteen stitches. The police soon caught on, though, and he now faces various charges.
Plenty more local new stories in the Valencia news section, updated daily
Click for this weeks currency round up showing the exchange rate between Sterling and the Euro. If you would like a free quote to see how much can be saved on regular currency transfers such as a pension, or one-off lump sums such as the purchase of a property, call for a no obligation quote.
If you enjoyed this free weekly round-up, then please support its growth by forwarding it on to your friends. If you have received this from a friend and would like to have it sent directly, then click Register for weekly bulletin to sign up.
We GUARANTEE your details will not be passed on, sold, or used for any other purpose, and are maintained in an isolated off-site facility from which you can unsubscribe at any time.
Images: Copyrighted Murcia Today and Efe. Full or partial reproduction prohibited.
Cádiz Province, Andalucia
Granada Province: Andalucia
Huelva Province, Andalucía
Jaén Province, Andalucia
Málaga Province, Andalucía
Region of Andalucia
Seville Province, Andalucía
Córdoba Province, Andalucia
Autonomous Community of Galicia
Castilla La Mancha
Castilla y León
Airlines and Travel SpainCaso BárcenasCaso NóosEbola SpainGibraltarProperty in SpainRodrigo Rato BankiaSareb, Bad Bank, Banco MaloSpanish separatism/ETATourism SpainWeekly Bulletin Spanish NewsWeekly Bulletin Spanish Property