There were no ties in evidence at the laid-back annual conference of the governing PSOE party this week. This is well in keeping with its rabbit-in-the-headlights approach to the resolution of Spain’s economic woes so it wasn’t too surprising to read in the the-left-of-centre El Pais today that “The conference avoided a debate on the economic situation and emphasised the government’s progressive social model”. In fact, one columnist in the same paper went further, writing that:- “The President described the construction ‘crisis’ as one of the causes of Spain’s difficult and complicated situation as if it had fallen from the sky, unconnected with public and private economic decisions. It would be more accurate to say it was manufactured by the PP on the back of scandalously low interest rates and then maintained by the PSOE during its first administration”. So, a combination of the macro inappropriateness of the EU central bank rate and the micro factor of political expediency and ambition. Quite a rich paradigm.
On said EU, it’s reported today the majority of Spaniards are still supportive of the institution but that 54% of them feel it’s been prejudicial to Spain as regards salaries. Which shoots up to 79% when it comes to prices.
As it happens, the latest figure for the average gross salary in Spain is €18,400 – compared with €26,500 in the UK and €30,400 in the USA. The growth of salaries in Spain, it’s reported, has been held back by low rates in the construction and service industries, which probably absorb most of the immigrant labour. Right now, salaries are said to be in decline. Which can’t help consumer confidence much.
President Sarkozy is naturally using France’s presidency of the EU to push his notion of a Mediterranean Union. As El Pais put it today - “His problem is that some of his colleagues don’t see him as the Europeanist he says he is but as a politician who’s trying to use the EU as a backcloth for his national interests.” Sacré bleu! A French President trying to use the EU for France’s own ends! Whatever next? Can I hear the pitter-patter of scales falling off Spanish eyes?
How the mighty are fallen:-
1. A new wax figure of Hitler in Berlin’s Madam Tussauds has had its head lopped off within hours of appearing.
2. Protesters in La Coruña are demanding the removal of a statue of the Francoist general Milán Astray, and
3. Descendants of Republicans buried in the same place as Franco are seeking permission to have their relatives exhumed and reburied in less tainted ground.
The article about the last of these shows Franco standing on a balcony in Madrid, saluting the crowds. His feet are supported by a 20cm stool and his stomach by the balustrade. At least I think it’s Franco but it might be Charlie Chaplin as there's a festival of his films in Madrid this month.
I finally have a new camera. So, here are:-
1. The expensive shandy in the Retiro last Wednesday.
2. My daughter’s graffiti-marred front door [with me reflected – complete with halo – in the glass]
3. The Sunday flea market in Pontevedra
4. My habitual Sunday lunch of calamares a la romana and a glass of albariño
5. The hard-working waitress, Olivia, who brings them to me