Thursday, February 19, 2009

Spain is a famously easy-going society and this has certainly been the case over the years of the property-driven boom here. But things change and, as the FT says, the strains are starting to show. There are news reports today of violent protests down south against the import of North African fruit and vegetables. After a relaxation of EU rules which looks, on the face of it, to be a bit of bad timing. Rather more worrying, perhaps, is the report that 67% of young Spaniards think there are too many immigrants here. By which they don’t – presumably – mean people like me.

Over in the UK, protests take a milder form. It’s reported that caravan holidays at home have overtaken beaches in Spain as the country’s most favoured holiday. Another blow to the long-suffering Spaniards.

But I don’t suppose many Brits will be going by train to their caravan site. A survey there has confirmed what we’ve long suspected, viz. that rail travel in the UK – like several other things - is outrageously more expensive than anywhere else in Europe. So it’s not just Spanish companies that screw their captive customers.

Here’s a photo of the statue of St James in Santiago cathedral . . .

As you can see, he’s laying into the Moorish invaders with his lance and his horse’s hooves. I heard talk a while back of them removing the statue so as not to offend Muslim visitors. Of which I doubt there are very many. But it was still there on Tuesday this week. However, you can’t now see the poor, downtrodden Moors as the lower half of the statue is obscured by a large trough of tall flowers. A nice Spanish compromise. Whatever else it is.

And here’s news of a piece of modern art to which I’ve taken an immediate liking. Not, I admit, something I could say very often And nice that it was done by a Spanish artist.

Here in Galicia, the conservative PP party failed to get an absolute majority at our last elections by a mere 9,000 votes and so had to hand over power to a socialist-nationalist coalition. Much the same is likely to happen this time, with the ‘most popular’ party again consigned to the opposition benches. Some would say this is less democratic than the first-past-the-post British system but others would argue the exact opposite. One thing that can be said this time round is that no one voting for the PSOE socialist party can be in any doubt that it won’t get an absolute majority and so will again have to govern in conjunction with the nationalist BNG party. For the PP losers, the most galling aspect of this might well be that the determining factor will be the votes of 30,000 people who live overseas – mostly in Argentina – and so are unaffected by the outcome of their preferences. Which is why our leaders have spent so much of the last few weeks in Buenos Aires. It’s a rum world.

Finally, an experiment that can be completely ignored . . .

Galicia: País Vasco: Cataluña: Galicia: País Vasco: Cataluña: Galicia: País Vasco: Cataluña: Galicia: País Vasco: Cataluña:

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