Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Probably my final comment on Sunday’s general election - Over at Iberian Notes, John Chappell has again done a fine job in listing the Anglo takes on the results. As a committed right-winger, John is worried The Guardian shares his perspective. Having read it, I think it also echoes one or two of my own points of yesterday:- The socialists cannot take too much comfort from their victory. Not only are the 169 seats they won 7 short of the 176 needed for an absolute majority but the PP gained 5 more seats and also a record number of votes. Spanish politics became very polarised and parliamentary life very vicious during the last socialist government and it looks as if this will remain so. The country is divided into two solid blocs, and the situation will not be eased by the socialists having to find a parliamentary ally and horse trade among one or more of the regional parties (whose influence on national political life is out of all proportion to their political weight because of the quirks of the electoral system). So, the times remain interesting.

It’s been said many times that the truly massive influx of immigrants into Spain over the last 5 years – up to 10% of the population of 44m – was essential for the high economic growth the country enjoyed. Very probably true but, with the bubble burst, guess which section of the population is being hardest hit by the downturn. The unemployment forecasts for immigrants – especially in the frozen-rigid construction sector – are horrendous. So it wasn’t hard arriving at the sort of view expressed in the same Guardian article:- Spaniards have so far been remarkably tolerant of immigrants who have flooded into the country over the last decade, as there has been plenty of work for them. But as unemployment rises and state schools and the public health system become even more stretched this tolerance is going to be tested. As I said yesterday, I doubt Mr Z will be enjoying his victory for very long. But neither would have Rajoy, if he’d managed to bring off the unexpected.

On a personal level, if the Portuguese workers on the building site opposite my house should be unfortunate enough to lose their jobs, I will at least be able to park in front of my house again. It’s an ill wind . . .

In the regional election in Andalucia, a fourth or fifth term was granted to the guy who has presided over all the corruption down there for many years now and who appears unable or unwilling to do much about it. Hence today’s headline from the Costa del Crime - Four top National Policemen arrested for corruption in Málaga. You can read the details here. I wonder what it will take to clean up these stables. The voters don’t appear to be terribly concerned about it.

There’s a campaign against the plastic bag in various countries around the world. If they’re banned here, what are we going to put our rubbish in every night before we deposit it in the central container down the street? Will the system have to change? Wheelie bins for all? Buy shares now.

Finally, for those who can stand it - Customer service: Carrefour- Chapter 3. The machine was taken back yesterday because Epson had not provided any helpful advice about correcting the problem. The response was it would ‘probably take 4 weeks’ for Carrefours’ tech service people to get round to plugging it in and checking whether it really is malfunctioning. In Spain - where ‘tomorrow’ can still mean anything - such an estimate is distinctly worrying. Ironically, when I got home, there was a message from Epson saying it certainly looked as if the machine was crocked and I should contact a local Epson repair centre. My resolution to never again buy anything from either Epson or Carrefour has not weakened much in the past 24 hours. But let’s see if either of the head offices respond. Can’t say I’m optimistic.


Graeme said...

This thing about the "quirks of the electoral system" keeps popping up, but the reality is that the two main parties do better than most out of a system which seems designed to doom any third party at national level to a handful of seats. The only reason the smaller parties get power is because the 2 principal ones are so close together.

Colin said...


Do you get Prospect mag.?

If not, I'd like to send you a copy of an article I've just read. You can send me your private email address - if willing - to

Sorry if you've written before and I've forgotten.