Coming Up Next…

  • Energy Minster to parliament over rise in electricity prices. Álvaro Nadal will appear before the Energy Commission at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.
  • Electricity price set to fall…slightly on Thursday. The price was forecast to rise as high as €101 MW/h late on Wednesday, but is set fall to €87 MW/h.
  • Europe to debate Spanish budget. Economy Minister Luis de Guindos will travel to Brussels for Eurogroup meeting on Greece.

The World Watches Spain

  • Robin Hood restaurant feeds the poor. Paying lunch customers in Madrid subsidise dinner for the homeless, and celebrity chefs are queueing up. (NPR)

  • Spanish corporate growing pains. Spain has the highest percentage of small companies and the lowest of big companies compared to its peers. (FT)

  • Real Madrid loses Pepe Hannibal Lecter case. The club had sued Catalan TV3 for €6 million over video depicting the player as a hyena. (Telegraph)

Updated: 11:25 am, Jan 25 2017 (link)

Madrid School Bus Driver Tests Positive For Cocaine After Crash

Regional government footage of the crash site.

18 people—17 children and the driver—were slightly injured in a school bus crash on Wednesday morning in the Fuenlabrada area of Madrid, according to emergency services duty office José Luis Eymar. The children were all aged 12-13 and were taken to nearby hospitals. Several Spanish media outlets reported the driver had later tested positive for cocaine use. El Mundo reported the bus had turned over while going round a roundabout, and that the driver claimed the steering wheel had frozen.

Updated: 12:00 pm, Jan 25 2017 (link)

European Leaders Ignore Catalan Government At Brussels Talk

Puigdemont brussels
Mr. Puigdemont speaks in Brussels on Tuesday. (Catalan government)

Catalan government leaders travelled to Brussels on Tuesday after taking out ads in several European newspapers announcing a conference they had organised themselves about the new 2017 independence referendum. Spanish journalists reported no European parliament authorities had attended the event, which was organised by three MEPs from the region and attended mostly by people from Catalonia. Some MEPs from other countries were present. Catalan First Minister Carles Puigdemont, Deputy First Minster Oriol Junqueras and regional foreign affairs minister Raúl Romeva argued the referendum planned for later this year was "legitimate, legal, efficient and binding". Mr. Puigdemont said the continued refusal of the Spanish state to agree to a vote was "grave and irresponsible". Referring to the absence of European leaders at the event, Mariano Rajoy said "Puigdemont got the treatment he deserved", repeating the long-held central government position that "the law will be upheld in Spain".

Updated: 1:39 pm, Jan 25 2017 (link)

European Parliament Backs Call For New Train Crash Investigation

The European Parliament's Committee on Petitions has backed a request by Spanish victims of the 2013 high-speed train crash in Santiago de Compostela for a new independent inquiry to be held. Chairwoman Cecilia Wikström said it was now "the duty of the European Commission to begin an investigation that complies with all the independence requirements and as a minimum looks at the weaknesses highlighted". A European Railway Agency (ERA) report for the European Commission last year slammed the lack of independence and rigour of the original Spanish investigation into the crash, which killed 81 people and injured 150 others. A letter dated June 22 from ERA Executive Director Josef Doppelbauer said "the Agency shares the view that we must learn the lessons of that accident to reduce the risk of recurrence and tragic loss of life".

Updated: 5:07 pm, Jan 25 2017 (link)

Spain Still A "Full Democracy" In 2016, Says Economist Report

Economist democracy 2016
Democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian states of the world.

Spain maintained 17th place as a "full democracy" in the Economist Intelligence Unit's 2016 report, published on Wednesday morning, with a score of 8.30, behind Malta and the UK and ahead of Uruguay and Mauritius. The most democratic countries in the world, according to the British newspaper, are Norway (9.93), Iceland (9.5) and Sweden (9.39) and the least, classed at the bottom of the "authoritarian" pile are Chad (1.5), Syria (1.43) and North Korea (1.08). Ten countries scored above nine points. France and Portugal are both classed as "flawed" democracies, Morocco is a "hybrid regime" and Algeria an "authoritarian" state. Points are awarded for electoral systems, the functioning of government, political participation, political culture and civil liberties. While in 2015 The Economist noted "growing support for populist parties" in Spain, Greece and Portugal "which pose an increasing challenge to the established political order", no special comment was made about Spain for 2016.

Updated: 5:52 pm, Jan 25 2017 (link)

Spain Drops Five More Places In Transparency Corruption Ranking

Transparency 2016 spain
Spain's score in the 2016 Transparency International corruption report.

Spain placed 41st in Transparency International's 2016 annual corruption index, published on Wednesday, with a score of 58. That score was the same one the country obtained in 2015, but improvements in other nations shoved Spain down the list. Italy placed 60th and Greece 69th. Poland and Portugal shared 29th position, 12 places ahead of Spain, and France was 23rd. The UK and Germany shared 10th place with Luxembourg. The Spanish chapter of Transparency published remarks stating Spain's result was "worse than last year (we were 36th) and the worst of all of the historical data […] we have reached our historical corruption high point, comparatively". The organisation did not describe the country's graft as systemic "but rather [we have] political corruption scandals in the upper levels of parties and governments […] In these last four editions [we] have reached our lowest scores over the past 15 years".