Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in SpainSpain
- All roads lead to Catalonia for the country’s new leader, says the Times. See its leader below.
- My thanks to readers Sierra and María for helping me understand that the 12 lists I saw in Madrid were not national but local. And the 37-40 names were for the seats allocated to the capital city. With back-ups in the case of 40 names. Naturally, I guess, the lists included all the party leaders. Which confused me a bit. Inter alia.
- In the press supplement I mentioned the other day, there's an opening spiel about Pontevedra city. Thanks to its not-so-hot summers and not-so-cold winters - it's claimed - it's known as California. News to me.
- Also hard to believe is the statement there's free parking within 5 minutes of the city centre. True, there are free parking areas on the other side of the river in Lérez. But you'd be astonishingly lucky, arriving as a tourist, to find a space there. The residents know all about them.
- The supplement lists all the fiestas taking place in Galicia during April, viz:-
- Of touristic interest: 11
- Gastronomic: 18
- Religion: 5
- 'Others': 10
And that's before the weather gets warm . . .
The UK and Brexit
- It's rumoured Mrs May and Mr Corbyn are close to an agreement on what to take back to Brussels. We'll see.
- Meanwhile . . . The idea that Labour needs to secure the support of Leave voters in order to win or hold Leave seats is “one of the most damaging zombie beliefs” in politics. The truth is the Labour leader and his advisers are instinctive Eurosceptics who see the European Union as a neo-liberal capitalist enterprise. They have no interest in party democracy when it might produce what they see as the wrong result. Hence the fence-sitting, ambiguity and downright lies of the last 2-3 years.
- Fart is using the law - normally something he ignores - to prevent details of his financial dealings becoming public. In a joint statement, the Chairs of the House Financial Services and the House Intelligence c committee said Fart's lawsuit was "meritless, not designed to succeed but only to put off meaningful accountability as long as possible." And they added: "As a private businessman, Trump routinely used his well-known litigiousness and the threat of lawsuits to intimidate others, but he will find that Congress will not be deterred from carrying out its constitutional responsibilities". What fun.
- Headline: Con artist Sorokin was made by social media. A Russian woman who posed as a Manhattan socialite fooled thousands because she looked the part on Instagram.
o Actually she was born in Russia, and her dad was a trucker.
o For a while, according to one profile, she had a boyfriend, a semi-famous futurist who gave TED talks. How do you spot bullshit when there is so much of it around?
- Word of the Day: Desbordar.
- A follow-up to yesterday's note:-
- Poult - A young domestic chicken, turkey, pheasant, or other fowl being raised for food.
- Docken - Chiefly Scottish : Something of small value I don't care a docken. But reader Perry has suggested it's another version of `docked', as in canine tails and ears.
- Anyone who wants a free copy of my Guide to Pontevedra City For Pilgrims can now request it - in whatever text form - at firstname.lastname@example.org. I wasn't exactly overwhelmed last time I made an offer, so am not expectant. Offer expires as soon as I publish it on the net at a ridiculously low price.
The Times view on Pedro Sánchez: Splintering Spain
All roads lead to Catalonia for the country’s new leader
Pedro Sánchez, Spain’s prime minister and socialist leader, has emerged from the country’s elections as a winner but he will still struggle to govern. The deep political fissures over the future of Catalonia have polarised the electorate, splintered parties and helped to propel a new radical nationalist party into a hung parliament. Unless Mr Sánchez can find a way to defuse the Catalan separatist movement, Spain will remain politically volatile for years to come. Across Europe countries are facing extraordinary challenges in holding the centre ground but few face such an existential crisis.
Mr Sánchez, who has been prime minister for barely a year, won a chunky 29 per cent of the vote and 123 seats. To form a government, however, the socialists must secure 176 seats in the 350-seat congress of deputies in the Cortes. Finding a coalition has never been more complex. The two most dynamic groupings in the election were the Citizens Party, which won 57 seats, and the populists of Vox who won 24 seats, entering parliament for the first time. Both fundamentally disagree with Mr Sánchez’s policy of dialogue and limited co-operation with Catalonia. The Citizens Party, which on paper seems like a potential centrist coalition partner, has tacked to the right and has ambitions to be Spain’s prime conservative voice, displacing the badly damaged People’s Party. It has little to gain and much to lose in joining Mr Sánchez in government.
Vox, meanwhile, has demonstrated that Spain is no longer an exception in the European Union. Despite the unhappy memories of the Franco dictatorship, it too now has a country-wide ultra-nationalist party. The party is provocative but works within democratic norms. While it opposes illegal immigration it feeds chiefly on resentment at attempts by Catalonia, one of the wealthiest regions of Spain, to break away from the central state. Its true strength may reveal itself in European elections next month, when populist groupings across the continent are hoping for a loud rejection of the EU establishment.
For the time being, the problem posed by Vox to Mr Sánchez is that of political arithmetic. The arrival in parliament of another obstructive force severely reduces the possibilities of forming a governing alliance. If rejected by Citizens, he may turn to the left-wing Podemos and a Basque party for backing. Yet even this would fall short of a majority. Spain has had minority governments before, indeed Mr Sánchez has led one; but the intractable Catalan issue — the threat that Spain could be torn apart — demands strong leadership and a robust consensus. The country’s economy is surprisingly resilient but markets and Spain’s partners need to be reassured by more than sound economic management.
Mr Sánchez should strike a firmer tone on Catalonia. On taking office a year ago he promised to “re-establish normality”. Yet the more that is offered to the Catalans, the more is demanded by the radical separatists. Catalonia generates 20 per cent of Spain’s GDP and its politicians want to hang on to tax revenue. To many Spaniards outside the region that seems unreasonable. It burdens a nation which still has pockets of serious poverty. Mr Sánchez has little choice but to find a coalition that transcends left and right and that holds to the constitutional ban on regional self- determination. His duty is to keep this vital but frustrated democratic state together.