Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Spain has a written Constitution. And, of course, a Constitutional Court. Which seems to be kept busy by an endless series of disputes between Madrid and one of more of the 'Autonomous Communities' (or Regions). One of the latest is whether or not Cataluña can charge its citizens a euro for the filling of a prescription. This may seem petty to some foreign observers but not in Spain. Especially because of the identity of the antagonists. I wonder if this happens in the USA or Germany. France, even.

Today's El País had a leader on the departure of George Entwistle from the BBC. Their main point was that, whatever had gone on at the BBC and whatever the propriety of his pay-off, he'd had the decency to resign and this was not something one sees much of in Spain. Shame they spelt his name Entswistle. Twice.

I think I may have mentioned that the Spanish way of dealing with mortgage arrears is little short of scandalous. Public anger has been building up at the number of cases of people ruthlessly evicted from their homes by banks which then refuse to offset the value of the repossessed property against the outstanding loan. Indeed, they add to the latter by way of massive legal and court fees. Driving some people to suicide. The government and the opposition appear to be ready to agree a 'pact' around what should be the process and the timetable. But the banks – better late than never – have now announced that – 'for humanitarian reasons' - they won't take immediate action against people who are in 'an extreme situation'. It's a start. But not much of a one.

Heard an interesting interview with Tomara Rojo this evening. She's the Spanish ballet dancer who's now Artistic Director and Principal Dancer of the English National Ballet. Her father used to fall asleep during her performances. Which annoyed her, apparently. Some daughters!

Some Bits and Bobs:

Beggars and panhandlers in Pontevedra: There's clearly more of them than ever – gypsies; Rumanians; bagmen; bagpipe players; pipe players; middle-class men with placards, etc. Can they all be genuinely in need? Can any of them? What criteria to use?

Estate cars: There aren't as many of these here in Spain as in Portugal and I now wonder whether there isn't a financial reason. For in Portugal you pay less tax, I'm told, if you put a 'dog guard' behind the front seats and put the rear seats down. Thus qualifying as a van for taxation purposes. Rather like blacking out the rear windows in the UK. Perhaps in Portugal you get even more of a discount if the 'dogs' area' is even bigger than normal. There has to be a reason for the ubiquitousness of the estate model. Which I think is called a shooting brake in the USA. Or maybe station waggon.

Birthday cards: I have daughter birthdays coming up but the choice here is poor. Not a Spanish thing.

General strike: We have one tomorrow morning, I believe. There was an election-type van going round today inviting us all to participate. I wonder what the turnout will be. Which seems like the wrong word really. Turnoff, more accurately.

Menús del Día: The cost of these seems to be falling, in these desperate times. After the 3.99 price I saw in Lisbon, there was a 5.95 lunch on offer in Pontevedra today, the lowest I've ever seen. Gone, for now, are the days of the 12.50 special. As have some of the places offering them.

Portugal's economic growth: Mrs Merkel has told the Portuguese that sticking to the austerity last will bring 'growth and investment'. As if she has any bloody idea!

Gaelic football teams: There are seven of these in Galicia, apparently. Just an excuse to drink Guinness?

Finally . . . Click here for the description of how the Spanish economy works, by someone who knows whereof he talks.


Alfred B. Mittington said...

More fascinating still: Spain has both a Constitutional Court and a Supreme Court. And I never understood why, and which one does what. Perhaps somebody knowledgeable could explain?

(Oh, and the funniest one was a few years ago, when an fired assistant of the Constitutional Court brought a suit against his former employers before the Supreme Court... Or the other way around, I can't remember)

Colin said...

Yes, it seems that in the USA, the Supreme Court handles constitutional issues.

Spain often seems like a place where bodies are create to maximise employment. Perhaps this is another case of that. For the benefit of those wonderful people, lawyers and judges.

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