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A new Demoscopia Servicios general election poll for esRadio—the first after the Catalan elections on September 27—shows advances for Ciudadanos, the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and United Left, and declines for the Popular Party (PP) and Podemos. In the Catalan elections, Ciudadanos increased its share of seats from 9 to 25, compared to 2012.
|Party||Estimated Vote||Estimated Seats||Direct %|
|United Left (IU)||4.4%||7||3.1%|
In the 350-seat national parliament, 176 seats are required for a majority:
|PP + PSOE||250|
|PSOE + Podemos + Ciudadanos + IU||181|
|PSOE + Podemos + Ciudadanos||174|
|PP + Ciudadanos||166|
|PSOE + Podemos + IU||154|
|PSOE + Podemos||147|
|PSOE + Ciudadanos||138|
Spain began its annual shedding of summer tourism jobs in September, with the number of Spaniards registered as unemployed increasing by 26,087, the latest Employment Ministry figures showed, a 0.64% increase compared to August and a larger increase than in September 2014. The new total is 4,094,042 million unemployed people, 353,608 fewer than in September 2014. Seasonally adjusted, unemployment in September fell by 9,746 people. All of September's increase came from the service sector (+43,155). Unemployment in agriculture (–12,447), industry (–4,029) and construction (–9,902) fell. Andalusia (+13,857) and Catalonia (+6,881) were the two regions where unemployment rose the most in September. The second main measure of unemployment in Spain, the National Statistics Institute's quarterly Active Population Survey (EPA), recorded a figure of 5.15 million unemployed Spaniards in the latest edition in July.
The judge who set Artur Mas's court appearance date to October 15, 2015—on the 75th anniversary of the execution of Lluis Companys, and for the same day the Catalan government had declared a "national" day of "memory of Civil War victims and Francoist repression" in Catalonia, in memory of Companys, "the only democratically elected president in Western Europe executed by fascism"—was appointed to the Catalan High Court in 2012 by Artur Mas's (then) party CiU, El Español reported. Joan Manel Abril was appointed as part of the small group of judges named by regional parliaments in June 2012. "[Judicial] sources—busy at that time with an intense debate generated by trips paid for by public funds and made by chief justice Carlos Dívar—remember clearly that support for the appointment of Joan Manel Abril came unequivocally from CiU and not the PSC [Catalan Socialist Party]", said the newspaper.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy travelled on the world's first single-track high-speed AVE line on its inaugural journey on Tuesday morning, between the northern Spanish cities of León, Palencia and Valladolid. El Economista reported the surrounding infrastructure—bridges and tunnels—had been built for two tracks but only one laid and opened, to save costs. The opening of the line has been rushed to take place before the general election. The security system installed on the new single-track line is not the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) but ASFA, an automatic braking and signalling system. The lack of ERTMS is widely cited as one of the leading causes of the 2013 train crash in Santiago de Compostela, which took place on a stretch of track that did not have the system installed. The Spanish Public Works Ministry said in a 12-page press statement that the new line was 166 km long and had cost €1.62 billion.
Spain's year-on-year inflation rate dropped to –0.9% in September, the National Statistics Institute (INE) said in new preliminary data published on Tuesday morning, the indicator's second decline in two months. The new data point means the overall trend for Spanish inflation for the last 21 months is once more negative, reversing an upwards swing that had lasted through the first eight months of 2015. The INE said the fall was due once more to lower energy and fuel prices.
The former Popular Party Prime Minister of Spain, José María Aznar, who chose Mariano Rajoy to be his successor as party leader in 2004, issued a statement via his foundation FAES on Monday afternoon slamming Mr. Rajoy's handling of the Catalan question and the PP's performance in the four rounds of elections Spain has held so far this year. "For the PP it is the worst possible scenario", he said: "Your rival to the left is strengthened, your space is reduced, the secessionists are going to continue the process. Your position is seriously compromised". "There is nothing more dangerous than having an existential problem on the table where the historial continuity of the nation is at stake […] The first rule of politics is that you lose the battles you don't take part in". Mr. Aznar said the "degree of fraction and division in Catalonia" would worsen because of Sunday's election results. On the PP's poor repeated election performance, he said: "there have now been five warnings".
No one from the Spanish government was set to comment on the Catalan election results on Monday, 12 hours after the results were announced and the pro-independence coalition Junts Pel Sí claimed victory and said it would press ahead with its plan to secede from Spain. A spokesman at Popular Party headquarters in Madrid told The Spain Report a meeting of the party's national executive committee would take place at 5 p.m. on Monday, chaired by Mariano Rajoy, but that it had not yet been decided if anyone more senior than the PP's official spokesman, Pablo Casado, would make statements or answer questions, or if the Mr. Rajoy's speech to the party would be broadcast or be reserved for senior party leaders. Moncloa, the Spanish Prime Minister's office, told The Spain Report that "right now, there is nothing planned", no press conferences or institutional statements on the agenda about Catalonia, either for the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister, on Monday.
The Catalan government reported 63.26% of the region's 5.5 million eligible voters had cast their ballot by 6 p.m. on Sunday, a seven point increase compared to the same time of day in 2012. By 1 p.m., the figure was 35.07%, a five-and-a-half-point increase compared to 29.43% at the same time of day in 2012. Participation in 2015 increased across all four of Catalonia's electoral sub-regions, both by 1 p.m and 6 p.m..
|8 p.m. (final)||-/-||67.96%|
A youth member of right-wing minority party Vox—whom a Vox spokeswoman identified to The Spain Report as "José Manuel"—was forcibly removed from the polling station where Artur Mas voted on Sunday morning, as the First Minister was there to vote, by Catalan independence supporters. José Manuel and three of his young colleagues from Vox Barcelona "decided last night to go with Spanish flags", said the spokeswoman. Vox denied the stunt, in which the group got out Spanish flags and chanted "No to the coup leaders" or "Time for Article 155" (in reference to the Spanish Constitution), had been organised by anyone other than the four youths involved, but issued a press release with a statement by party leader Santiago Abascal offering them his "congratulations and support" on their "bravery". A video posted by El Mundo showed the young man being manhandled out of the room.
With data from 95% of polling stations, the Catalan government announced 35.07% of the region's 5.5 million eligible voters had cast their ballot by 1 p.m., a five-and-a-half-point increase compared to 29.43% at the same time of day in 2012. Participation in 2015 increased across all four of Catalonia's electoral sub-regions.
|8 p.m. (final)||-/-||67.96%|
Voters in Catalonia have begun casting their ballots in regional elections at 2,697 polling stations across the region, which opened at 9 a.m.. Pro-independence parties have insisted the election is a historic plebiscite on secession from Spain. The Spanish government and unionist parties have insisted these are normal, but important, regional elections. The latest polls show the separatist Junts Pel Sí coalition—which includes Artur Mas, Oriol Junqueras and Raúl Romvea—on course to win but an overall majority is in doubt and may depend on minority party CUP. Polling stations will be open until 8 p.m. on Sunday evening and 5.5 million people are eligible to vote. Meritxell Borràs, the regional governance minister, said the polling stations had been opened without incident on Sunday morning, but complained the central electoral committee had shown "a lack of sensitivity" in not extending the postal vote deadline. The last regional election in Catalonia were held on November 25, 2012.
Republican Catalan Left MP and councillor Alfred Bosch issued a statement on Friday apologising for his decision to hang a Catalan separatist estelada flag from a column at Barcelona City Hall yesterday, leading to a scuffle between rival politicians as PP leaders attempted to fly a Spanish flag in response. "Yesterday I hung an estelada [flag] from the balcony of Barcelona City Hall, and that led to a series of reactions that have created quite a storm. I'm sorry for what has happened, and having reflected on my acts, I have to recognise I was not in the right. It was certainly not the right moment or gesture", he wrote, apologising "to anyone I might have offended". In video footage of the controversial incident, he can be seen trying to tell the angry booing crowd in the square below to calm down as the Popular Party politicians struggled to fly a Spanish flag.
El Confidencial reported on Friday that the Bank of Spain is moving significant amounts of extra cash from Madrid to Barcelona "to prevent a bank run if independence parties win" Sunday's Catalan elections. The news site said four extra shipments were being made as part of the "government's emergency plan" to stop the region running out of cash should a separatist victory spark a bank run in the region. "The measure is exceptional but of a preventive nature". The cash is being guarded by a special unit of the Civil Guard, not the private security guards used for lower amounts. The first transfer took place on Thursday. El Confidencial said it had information about the exact timing and amount of the remaining convoys but would not publish the details for security reasons. The normal routine for cash transfers to Barcelona is once every two weeks, meaning four in under a week is exceptional. Local residents posted images of unusual numbers of security vans arriving on Wednesday.
A photo published by the Diari de Tarragona on Wednesday clearly shows how one of Mariano Rajoy's bodyguards came close to withdrawing his pistol in a moment of tension with one passer-by during an aborted pre-rally walkabout in the Catalan town of Reus on Tuesday. The walkabout was cancelled after the party came up against a vociferous group of pro-independence supporters chanting "in-in-de-in-de-pen-dence!". The bodyguard has his hand on the pistol ready to withdraw it but the photo does not show him taking it out of the holster. Video footage of the walkabout does not show the incident with the bodyguard, but does show the same passer-by being moved immediately afterwards into a doorway, and plain clothes agents closing the doors to keep him inside and reporters out.
A new Celeste Tel poll for El Diario shows no party with or close to an overall majority at Spain's general election, now likely to take place in December. 176 seats are required for a majority in the 350-seat Spanish Congress. The sum of two possible coalitions—the PP and Ciudadanos, or the PSOE and Podemos—shows a draw on 156 seats. Neither possible coalition would reach an overall majority even counting with the next party with most seats, in this case Artur Mas's party Convergencia. A coalition between the PSOE, Podemos and the two Catalan parties currently under the Junts Pel Sí separatist banner in Catalonia (CDC and ERC) would, just, provide an overall majority of 176 seats.
|Popular Party (PP)||32.0%||134-137|
|Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE)||27.4%||116-120|
|Republican Catalan Left (ERC)||1.57%||8-9|
The leading Catalan electoral list in favour of secession from Spain, Junts Pel Sí (Together For Yes), turned Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's interview gaffe on the question of nationality into its final election campaign ad on Tuesday evening. At the start of the ad, Junts Pel Sí says it is "handing over a compensatory electoral space to Mariano Rajoy" and proceeds to play almost a full minute of the Prime Minister's radio interview on Onda Cero with Carlos Alsina, in which Mr. Rajoy stumbles several times on how the Spanish Constitution works in relation to Spanish nationality. The campaign ad ends with the message: "They lied about your nationality. The other threats are also false". Mr. Rajoy's comments went viral on Spanish Twitter during the interview and were retweeted and commented upon all day with users mocking the Prime Minister and Catalan separatists taking advantage of the gaffe. Artur Mas said: "What has happened today shows that everything they've said is a lie".
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was forced to cancel a pre-rally walkabout through the town centre in Reus (Catalonia) on Tuesday evening, after dozens of pro-independence supporters blocked the street to repeated chants of "in-de-pen-dence". Mr. Rajoy was accompanied by the Popular Party candidate in Catalonia and their security team. La Vanguardia reported Moncloa sources had expressed their "surprise" at the small police detail provided by the Catalan police force, the Mossos, for the walkabout. During the rally, Mr. Albiol said their walk had been interrupted by a group of "savages".
With five days to go before the regional elections take place in Catalonia—which polls suggest separatists will win—the Archbishop of Valencia, Antonio Cañizares, called on the Catholic faithful to urgently "pray for Spain and her unity" in a letter published on Tuesday, suggesting to his flock that: "we all need each other. Unity is always better than division". "Spain is bleeding out", he wrote. Whilst saying that he did not "wish to get involved in politics", he wrote in the letter that: "there is no moral justification for secession", adding that he had written the missive "given the haste of what concerns us, given the gravity and decisiveness of the situation we are going through". He said believers should pray "for at least a month, from today onwards, and offer special glories in prayer" to prevent pro-independence supporters from attempting to secede from Spain, in an "incessant, constant prayer that reaches God".
A new record number of tourists visited Spain in August, beating 2014's record by 1.4%, the Industry, Energy & Tourism Ministry said on Tuesday morning. The new data forms part of a continuing, multi-year trend that saw 47.2 million people visit Spain between January and August. France, the UK and "Asian countries" provided the largest increases. Catalonia (25..4%) and The Balearic Islands (23.9%) each welcomed around a quarter of the total number of visitors.
|Country||Visitors||% Of Total|
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy admitted this was a "relevant" week for Spanish politics during a radio interview with Onda Cero. "I'll be busy", he said: "there is an [electoral] list […] that in its manifesto means to break the rules of the game we all agreed upon, the liquidation of the Constitution, the suppression of national sovereignty and the disappearance of Spain as the country we have all known". Mr. Rajoy did not describe what steps he intended to take to prevent that outcome. "What is going to happen here is an election to the Catalan parliament, let's see what happens after that", he said: "as Prime Minister, I am clear that the law will be followed", adding that: "I have not found a will to dialogue but to monologue". The number of seats is the figure to watch in terms of forming a new regional government, the Prime Minister said, but "neither the number of seats nor the number of votes" would be enough to undertake an "illegal" secession process.
A new white paper by the economists branch of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) promises independence supporters that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will double in the region in the 10 years to 2024. Compared to an existing regional GDP that has been broadly flat since Spain's financial crisis began in 2008, the ANC said GDP would double at an approximately constant rate between 2015 and 2024, from €200 billion to €400 billion. The document also promises pensions would be guaranteed by social security payments and tax revenue and that 475,000 new jobs would be created as a result of secession from Spain, turning the region into "one of the engines of Europe's economic recovery". On Friday, Spain's leading banks warned of financial risks should the region secede and on Monday the governor of the Bank of Spain, Luis María Linde, warned of the possibility of capital controls, albeit in a "highly unlikely future scenario". Artur Mas said Mr. Linde's comments were "immoral and indecent".
A new Metroscopia poll for El País for Spain's general election shows the Spanish Socialist Party nudging past the Popular Party into the lead, on 24.6% of the estimated vote. While all four leading parties improved their result slightly compared to the July edition of the poll, the split between the PSOE and the PP, and then further back Podemos and Ciudadanos, was confirmed. The poll also suggested a slight rebound for Union, Progress & Democracy (UPyD), up to 0.9% from a record low of 0.3% in July.
A new Metroscopia poll for El País suggests pro-independence forces Junts Pel Sí (Together For Yes) and the CUP will obtain 76-78 seats in the 135-seat regional parliament, up to 10 seats more than are needed for an overall majority, and that Junts Pel Sí is just 1-2 seats short of an overall majority by itself. Other polls this week have predicted a similar outcome. On Friday, Spain's major banks warned they would reconsider their presence in the region if it declared independence.
|Junts Pel Sí||66-67|
|Catalunya Sí Que Es Pot (Podemos)||14|
As the new Ahora Madrid government in Madrid City Hall—led by Manuela Carmena—celebrated its first 100 days in office, ratings agency Standard & Poor's said it was lowering the Spanish capital's overall creditworthiness rating from "stable" to "negative" on Friday evening. In a statement, the company said: "Madrid's new government, in place since May 2015, has announced that it will audit the city's debt. We are uncertain at this stage about the scope, timeline, and possible implications of this audit. We are revising our outlook on Madrid to negative from stable and affirming our 'BBB/A-2' ratings. The negative outlook reflects our view that the audit's outcome might have negative implications on the city's willingness to service its debt when due". An S&P BBB/A-2 rating mean the ratings agency believes the City of Madrid is susceptible to "adverse effects of changes in circumstances and economic conditions". The "negative" outlook means it could be revised down further in the future.
The European Commission's Vice President for the euro and social dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis, made Europe's position on the question of Catalan independence clear on Friday, even tweeting Junts Pel Sí candidate Raul Romeva and pro-independence news site Vilaweb to make sure they got the message. "If part of a member state becomes independent", he said: "the treaties would no longer apply to it and it would become a third country as regards the European Union". Mr. Dombrovskis said the Commission does not normally comment on member states' policies but that: "we are ready to work with the democratically elected authorities in member states". Vilaweb headlined that his comments corrected those made by chief Commission spokesman Margiritis Schinas yesterday but Mr. Dombrovskis clarified to EFE that his comments were in reference to: "Spain as a member state of the European Union", not a hypothetically independent Catalonia.
Data provided by one of Spain's largest online jobs portals, InfoJobs, shows half of Spanish interns or work-experience employees over the age of thirty are willing to work for no pay. "In total, more than half (52%) of interns older than 30 do not earn a wage for their activity", said the company, adding that 60% of unemployed candidates over the age of 30 "think about starting some kind of course to be able to take a job as an intern". InfoJobs says 16% of interns on their books are over the age of 30 and that they can be split into three sub-groups: those with previous employment experience (36%), those who have never worked before (21%) and those who are trying to change professions (43%). 35% of the 776 companies surveyed said they used interns.
A new Sigma Dos poll for Telecinco shows Artur Mas's joint pro-independence electoral list Junts Pel Sí ("Together For Yes") could be as close as two seats to an absolute majority of 68 seats in the regional parliament all by itself, without counting the seats estimated for the also pro-secession party CUP, led by David Fernández. Adding the two separatist parties together would give up to 76 seats, a comfortable majority. In a 135-seat regional parliament, the Sigma Dos poll published on Wednesday night, 11 days before polling day, predicts:
|Junts Pel Sí||65-66|
|Catalunya Sí Que Es Pot (Podemos)||15-17|
Sabino Cuadra, an MP from Navarra for the left-wing Basque nationalist party Amaiur tore up a copy of the Spanish Constitution during a debate in Congress on Wednesday evening in which he defended the actions of the Catalan politicians who organised last November's simulated vote on independence. "Who is this government of the PP to talk about doing one's duty when it holds the Guinness Record for the whole wide world in corruption and dark legislative arts?", Mr. Cuadra wondered at the tribune. Wearing a t-shirt with the Catalan separatist flag on it, he finished his intervention by shouting "Long live a free Catalonia!". UPyD spokeswoman Rosa Díez complained about the Speaker's inaction and retorted that symbolic violence always precedes physical violence. The Speaker, Jesús Posada, later reprimanded Mr. Cuadra for ripping up the Constitution, calling the act "inadmissible and worthy of censure", even if it was done "symbolically".
The First Minister of Catalonia, Artur Mas, responded to statements made by US President Barack Obama on Wednesday afternoon, saying he did not "feel alluded to" by the American leader's remarks, which he described as "absolutely normal". President Obama told King Felipe during an Oval Office meeting at the White House on Tuesday that the US is "deeply committed to maintaining a relationship with a strong and unified Spain". The statement was immediately interpreted by Spanish media and politicians as referring to the Catalan question, and described as a diplomatic success for Spain. "Spain can be unified with Catalonia or without her", said Mr. Mas: "They go around the world talking about Catalonia and they don't talk to the Catalan institutions that represent Catalan people". The internationalisation of the question of Catalan independence has long formed part of the separatist strategy.
Former star investigating judge Baltasar Garzón, along with a former Spanish Director General of UNESCO, Federico Mayor Zaragoza, and a former anti-corruption public prosecutor now on Podemos's Citizens' Council, Carlos Jiménez Villarejo, have called for left-wing parties to form a new popular front in Spain to "achieve the clear defeat of the conservative PP" and those who defend "neoliberal ideology in the Spanish state", which have "contributed to the degradation" of Spanish democracy since Mr. Rajoy came to power in 2011 and introduced "ultraconservative austerity policies". "The only way to avoid the triumph of the right", says the document: "is to constitute a united front that agrees on and proposes progressive candidacies for the elections". The three signatories say unity is necessary to overcome the "specific strategies of each party" and that "unity and popular participation must not be a mask for any mendacious tactic". They did not mention any party in particular.