Saturday, December 23, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 23.12.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

  • The results in Cataluña demonstrate that the event was always both an election and a referendum. Which is unusual, as elections pose many questions but referendums only one, to which the answer is either Yes or No. So it was that the integrationists won the election but the secessionists won the referendum. Narrowly in both cases. So, both won and both lost. What a mess and no wonder there's continuing confusion, uncertainty and instability. As I said, Bravo, Sr Rajoy. You made an inept gamble and it failed. As many of us predicted it would. And you've made an extremely bad situation even worse. And your immediate reaction? To refuse to hold talks with Sr P. Or as The Times headline has it this morning: Rajoy snubs separatists after Catalans vote to divide Spain. It seems clear to me that you're bent on furthering your international image as anything but a statesman. Or even an able politician.
  • This was, of course, always likely to happen, given than many Catalans would see the elections as a (semi) official referendum, in place of the illegal one of October. Perhaps the only real way forward now is for Barcelona and Madrid to work on something that really is an official referendum. One requiring a sizeable majority to be effective and one which might result a much larger victory for the integrationists. Whether this can happen with Rajoy in charge is very much an open question.
  • Meanwhile . . . If you have the interest/patience . . . .Some observations/questions from others:-
- Catalonia plunged into further uncertainty after separatists won a crucial snap poll called following a failed independence bid that rattled Europe and triggered Spain's worst political crisis in decades.
- Puigdemont's 'Together for Catalonia' list secured the best result of the three separatist groupings, in a major upset for Rajoy.
- A resounding victory for Ciudadanos [in the elections, but not the referendum]
- A defeat for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy
- Rajoy's position has clearly backfired, with the regional Popular Party all but wiped out in the poll, and a resounding show of support for separatism means the push for independence will be stronger than ever.
- Mr. Rajoy is politically weakened, even at a national level, after having lost his bet that a sufficiently large majority of Catalans would rally behind his call for Spanish unity to block the secessionist challenge.
- The standoff is now certain to enter a new, equally contentious phase. It has already unsettled not only Spain but also its neighbors in the European Union, many of whom are fearful of separatist challenges of their own at a time of rising populism and nationalism. Almost no politician outside of Catalonia has supported the drive for independence.
- Will the EU still support Rajoy's 's hard line? So far the EU has backed Rajoy, saying it supports constitutional order, and that it is an internal matter for Spain. The European Commission stressed its stance remained the same regardless of the result of the vote.
- What the separatists' victory will mean in practice, however, remains a mystery.
- Crucially, the pro-independence camp is not expected to attempt another breakaway from Spain but rather try to enter into negotiations with Madrid -- even though Thursday's result certainly strengthens the separatists' hand.   
- The Catalan business elite, some of whose members have close links with Puigdemont's party, "know that they have to give a fresh boost to tourism and the economy": Sociologist Narciso Michavila.
- The nationalists will never again be able to speak in the name of all Catalonia. We are all Catalonia: The Ciudadanos leader, Ines Arrimadas. Possibly overstating the situation.
- The Catalan campaign race has seen a shift in the region’s political landscape. The two parties that had enjoyed a predominant position for many years – Convergència, now rebranded as the European Democratic Party of Catalonia or PDeCAT, and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) – have been upended by two traditionally smaller players, Ciudadanos and the Catalan Republican Left (ERC).
- Gone are the days of two-party hegemony that PSC and Convergència (as part of the CiU federation) enjoyed for years, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s when they collectively attracted 75% of the vote. And there is little indication that this situation is going to return any time soon.
- In a regional assembly with 7 parties, neither Ciudadanos nor ERC will be able to form a government without alliances with other parties.
- What next?, The Local asks:  WhoTF knows!, is the answer to that. As we wait for more action from those now sittiting terrified in both Madrid and Brussels. An unimpressive bunch if ever there was one.

  • If you feel like you need a drink, here's something that might appeal.
The UK
  • Driving on our notoriously expensive toll road between Pontevedra and Vigo last week, I took to wondering why the UK - in contrast to, say France, Spain and Portugal – doesn't tap this source of easy finance. From an article in today's UK press, it seems this might be just round the corner. I wonder why it took so long.
  • Here's a commentary on the UK government which might particularly appeal to Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas, who's not at all impressed by it:-

  • The dreadful percebes are yet to reach their peak Xmas price. In La Coruña a couple of days ago, they were 'only' €206 a kilo, against 280 this time last year. But there's confidence they'll shoot up today and tomorrow. There's no accounting for taste. Unless you're an accountant in a Galician seafood company.
  • Our screaming, bawling drunk/drug addict was at it again in the centre of the city midday yesterday. And again no one did anything about it. Or even seemed to notice it. You can imagine my reaction when I read that, in Montreal, a driver had been fined $149 for screaming inside his car. Some countries know how to do things properly. And I doubt the Canadian chap would have been fined for upsetting/'disrespecting' the cop by taking a foto of him. Spain is still different . . .
  • If you really need candles at Xmas and don't do religion, here's a nice alternative.
Today's Cartoon

Xmas visitors . . .

1 comment:

Sierra said...

Another Brexit myth exposed:

"On Thursday the Home Office announced the return of the blue British passport, to a chorus of approval from Brexiter newspapers and politicians. The irony is that the UK could have had a blue passport while an EU member. EU member state Croatia currently has a blue passport, after all. In any case – the “iconic” blue passport was imposed from abroad back in 1920 – thanks to the the League of Nations. The EU never mandated burgundy passports: it simply produced a standard format that many member states chose to use for the sake of convenience."