Monday, October 18, 2010

The eternally optimistic Spanish president, Sr Zapatero, predicted over the weekend that, come the middle of  2012, the Spanish economy will be booming, the unemployment problem will have been solved and the PSOE socialist party which he heads will have won all the interim, local, regional and national elections. As if this weren’t enough, the Basque terrorist group, ETA, will have disbanded, the scar of prostitution will have been erased from the face of Spain, all politicians will have become honest and everyone above three in Spain will be speaking fluent English. To cap it all, pigs will have sprouted wings and will be filling the sky with happy grunts. OK, I’ve made some of this up. But you have to guess which, as none of it’s remotely credible. El Mundo called Zapatero’s address to the party faithful un cuento de la lechera, in reference to a milk maid who, while day-dreaming of a bright future, tripped over a stone, spilled her milk and ended up with nothing. Meanwhile, Zapatero just has egg on his face. But he should be well used to that by now.

Back in the real world, the Catalan Constitutional court (every region has one, I think) has told the Girona authorities that they can’t go on blocking the construction of Spain’s largest brothel in La Junquera, even if the owner has been arrested several times - but not convicted, I guess - for suspected people trafficking and living off prostitution. After all, he has his rights. And it’s a matter of pride, I guess, that Frenchmen flock across the border to Spain, whereas it all used to be the other way round.

Still in Cataluña . . . It’s reported that one of the fused savings banks (cajas) which received money from the central fund (the FROB) to assist with the merger process has used 490 million euros of this to buy Catalan government bonds. Which possibly isn’t what the fund was meant for. But a friend in need . . . There are favour banks as well as money banks in Spain.

Back to non-credible statements . . . Edward Hugh here takes a look at two recent reports on the Spanish housing market – the creature I said yesterday I’d never understand – and concludes that one of the reasons for discrepancies (not to mention suspended belief in the official view) is that the banks - Spain’s largest realtor – are moving the properties on their books ‘out of sight’. This is in response to pressure from the Bank of Spain but is presumably not what the BoS had in mind.

And back to President Zapatero . . . He’s now being kept in power by a pact with the Basque National Party (the PNV) which is actually out of power in the Basque Country. As Guy Hedgecoe at Qorreo points out here, this means President Zapatero is allied in Madrid with a party ousted by his own socialist colleagues in the Basque country. Guy calls this a “political spaghetti junction” – in reference to a famous UK road interchange – but my question is whether it could happen in any other country in the world. Even a truly federal one. Or is it a reflection of the uniqueness of Spain’s central/regional set up?

Finally . . . I attended a charming concert by a Canadian chamber orchestra tonight. Particularly enjoyable was a piece from a virtuoso flautist. Which I would have enjoyed even more if someone in the row in front of me hadn’t broken wind just as it was reaching its climax. Mind you, when the average age of the members of the Pontevedra Filharmonia is probably a good few years higher than mine, I guess you’ve got to expect this sort of thing. Incidentally, the orchestra gave us two ‘topical’ encores - Shostokovich’s ‘A Spanish Dance’ and Schuman’s “A Spanish Love Song’. Which you can certainly get away with in Galicia, but possibly not in Cataluña and the Basque Country. I do hope someone warns them before they get there.

Tailnote for new readers:  Exciting news. The first eight chapters of my daughter’s novel can now be read and/or downloaded in pdf form, for easy reading. It’s a “Fast-paced political thriller but, above all, a personal tale of pride and paranoia.” Set in a fictionalised Cuba, it’s being e-published at the rate of at least a couple of chapters a week. If this entices you, click here.


Perry said...

Spain's Solar Deals on Edge of Bankruptcy as Subsidies Founder.

In 2007 Zapatero passed a law that guaranteed producers a so-called solar tariff of as much as 44 cents per kilowatt-hour for their electricity for 25 years -- more than 10 times the 2007 average wholesale price of about 4 cents per kilowatt-hour paid to mainstream energy suppliers.

The idea was to deliver 400 megawatts of electricity, but the scheme was open ended and a capability of 3500 megawatts was installed saddling Spain with at least 126 billion euros of obligations to renewable-energy investors.

The spending didn’t achieve the government’s aim of creating green jobs, because Spanish investors imported most of their panels from overseas when domestic manufacturers couldn’t meet short-term demand.

Zapatero said Spain’s clean-power industry employed 180,000 in 2007. During the next three years, jobs fell by a third to 116,000, according to a study by the Madrid-based Trade Union Institute of Work, Environment and Health.

In April, after the budget deficit ballooned to 11.2 percent of GDP, Industry Ministry officials announced that the government was considering cutting the subsidies for existing solar facilities -- even though the law guaranteed those rates for 25 years.

Perry said...

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has announced the biggest cabinet shake-up since his Socialist party came to power in 2004.

The reshuffle aims to boost the party's ratings after the introduction of unpopular austerity measures.

How does that work? All his cabinet members are tarred with the same brush. Th Spanish are going to resent or even hate them whatever job they do. Politicians eh! $hit for brains, wherever they hail from.

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