The December 21 ballot might backfire on the Spanish Prime Minister.
Journalists at Spain's state broadcaster TVE issued a statement on Wednesday evening denouncing censorship of the story about the Home Secretary plotting against Catalan separatists and calling for the resignation of the channel's news editor and director.
"We consider the concealment and partial coverage of the story related to the conversation between the interim Home Secretary, Jorge Fernández Diaz, and the head of the Catalan Anti-Fraud Office, Daniel de Alfonso, to be unacceptable", said a statement.
The journalists accuse management of sitting on the recordings published by Público: "TVE viewers have NOT been able to listen to those recordings in a move the News Council clearly considers to be 'censorship and manipulation'. The recording of the conversations and other related statements were available in the newsroom".
Several TVE news programmes failed to mention the story at all in the hours following Público's exclusive, while Wednesday's programmes put the emphasis on the Home Secretary ordering an investigation into the leak, again without broadcasting the recordings.
Journalists say reaction quotes from other party leaders have been used very sparingly.
Spain's El País caused controversy on Tuesday morning when images emerged of the paper's first edition, which contained a racist image caption.
On page 20, to illustrate a story about the general election in Andalusia, the Spanish daily chose a photo of Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría "greeting a black man in Huesca yesterday, after accusations of racism against Pedro Sánchez on Sunday".
Later editions of the paper corrected the caption to: "Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría greets a supporter yesterday in Huesca".
Doubt emerged over the authenticity of the caption, with the suggestion it had been faked, but three separate sources confirmed its existence.
Mary Beard, a British professor of classics at Cambridge University, and the classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement, has been awarded Spain's 2016 Princess of Asturias Prize in Social Sciences.
The Princess of Asturias Foundation said in a statement that Professor Beard had been awarded the prize "for her outstanding contribution to the study of culture, politics and society in Graeco-Latin antiquity", adding she was: "currently one of the most influential European intellectual figures with broad recognition both in the academic world and in society".
"The jury especially valued the capacity of the prize winner to integrate the legacy of the classical world with our experience of the present."
"Mary Beard's work demonstrates an extraordinary talent for turning specialist knowledge into accessible, relevant knowledge for the wider public."
In an e-mail reply, Professor Beard told The Spain Report she was looking forward to travelling to Oviedo in October to collect the "European prize": "I feel very honoured and humbled to see myself among all the great names of past winners. (I find myself thinking that I really must have grown up!)".
The three Spanish journalists kidnapped in Syria last July, Antonio Pampliega, José Manuel López and Ángel Sastre, have arrived back in Spain, the Spanish Prime Minister's Office, Moncloa, confirmed to The Spain Report.
They landed in a Spanish military jet at 10:15 a.m. local time, after a flight from Turkey.
The Prime Minister's Office did not say who, if anyone, had gone to the airport to meet the three men, or offer any details about how they had been freed, beyond the statement on Saturday night that "the work of many public servants and the collaboration of allied and friendly countries"—mainly Turkey and Qatar—had brought about their release.
Unions at El Mundo publisher Unidad Editorial declared yesterday's first 24-hour all-out strike a "historic" success on Wednesday afternoon, in an e-mail to staff obtained by The Spain Report.
"El Mundo didn't make it to news stands, reduced versions of Expansion and Marca went to print, more like pamphlets than a newspaper, Radio Marca was only broadcasting music, and magazine newsrooms were empty", said the e-mail, signed by the workers committees.
A new meeting is set with management for Thursday, at which unions "hope they will have understood the total opposition of staff to the measures proposed by Unidad Editorial".
Last week, unions announced in their strike plan that staff would be called upon to stop work every Tuesday—for 24 hours each time—whilst a reversal of the lay off plan or better conditions are negotiated.
Workers say Italian owner RCS and Unidad Editorial do not have a sound editorial plan for El Mundo and that the lay offs are being driven by financial problems in Italy, not the performance of the Spanish papers.
Unions have threatened an indefinite strike if talks collapse without agreement.
El Mundo editor David Jiménez declined to comment.
The El Mundo newsroom is empty today and neither the website nor the El Mundo Twitter feed have been updated with any news since 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning, when a strike across Unidad Editorial began in protest at a lay-off plan that will sack 224 workers, most of them journalists.
The newsrooms of business daily Expansión and Spain's favourite sports daily Marca were also empty, striking workers reported, but someone at Expansión is uploading wire stories from Spanish news agency EFE and tweeting them out.
Staff gathered outside the front gate of the Unidad Editorial building in Madrid and posted comments on Twitter. Some also said they would not be tweeting either for the duration of the strike, which will last until 7 a.m. on Wednesday.
El Mundo's economy correspondent, Carlos Segovia, tweeted that it was "a very hard day. Apologies to readers, but there is a lot at stake. #Journalism".
Unidad Editorial, the publisher of Spanish newspapers El Mundo (generalist), Expansión (business) and Marca (sports), is to sack 224 of its 1,400 staff in a new round of mass layoffs, the trade union committee confirmed in a statement on Thursday.
It said the survival of the company was at stake, that managers were incapable of defending it and that RCS—the Italian owner of the Spanish publisher—meant to "dismantle Unidad Editorial as a news company".
185 journalists and 39 corporate staff from the group are set to be dismissed on 20 days pay per year worked, including more than 90 journalists at El Mundo, almost a quarter of the Spanish daily's 338 total staff.
58 of the El Mundo journalists will be sacked from the central newsroom in Madrid and 32 from regional El Mundo newsrooms around the country, some of which will close.
24 more will be dismissed from Marca, Spain's leading sports daily, 19 from Radio Marca, 16 from business daily Expansión and 27 from magazines.
The worker's committee would like the lay offs placed on hold while take-over negotiations—Cairo Communications is trying to buy out RCS—take place in Italy.
A new meeting will be held on April 27.
Catalan public broadcaster Televisió de Catalunya issued a statement late on Tuesday evening "lamenting" the "symbolic burning of some pages of a book with false covers that emulated the Spanish Constitution".
The TV station took down the online copy of presenter Empar Moliner's show segment, though, just in case, saying it had done so because it was sorry they had "caused offence". The station said it guaranteed they would not be rebroadcast on its channels.
"Empar Moliner works with "Els Matins" (Mornings) and does satirical, ironic, sharp critiques in a comedy segment during the final part of the show", said the statement.
"In yesterday's gag, Moliner made a metaphorical denouncement of the Constitutional Court's decision, which she understood as discrimination against the rights of the worst off, with the symbolic burning of some pages of a book with false covers that emulated the Spanish Constitution".
Empar Moliner, a presenter on TV show Els Matins (Mornings), broadcast on Catalan public channel TV3, burnt a copy of the Spanish Constitution live on air during her commentary segment on the show on Monday morning.
Ms. Moliner ripped pages out of a copy of the Constitution as she spoke, tossing them into a metal waste bin. She then lit the contents with a match: "Look how well it burns!".
She was making a point on the injustice of a Constitutional Court ruling striking down a Catalan energy law which aimed to stop energy companies cutting off supply to poor families. "Poor Catalans will have to warm up with any book they have [to hand] as a heater", she said.
TV3 has uploaded the full clip to its website, with the title "When warming up in winter is unconstitutional".
PP spokesman Pablo Casado said that his party "demands an apology from TV3 for allowing a Constitution to be burned". He labelled the stunt "worthy of totalitarian regimes".
There are few studies on how many Spaniards really sleep a siesta 16 years into the 21st Century, or how often. One—organised by the Spanish Bed Association (ASOCAMA) in 2009—shed some light on the topic.
16% of Spaniards—or about 7.5 million people—said they slept a siesta every day. Another 22%—just over 10 million people—admitted to a late afternoon doze 'sometimes', and a further 3.2% (1.5 million) did so at weekends.
More than half of the Spanish population (58.6%) said they never slept a siesta. That answer was as high as 66% for 18-24 year olds and dropped to 51.4% for the over 65s. Men were more likely to sleep a siesta than women.
Most Spaniards who did sleep a siesta snoozed on the sofa (72.2%)—not in bed—and the favourite nap durations were 30-40 minutes and one hour.
ASOCAMA Secretary General Ignacio Fernández Zurita told The Spain Report the economic crisis, high unemployment and a shift to big shopping centres out of town might have caused a change in national habits since 2009.
"Anything that implies a large cultural change can be difficult", he said: "and prime-time TV is often very late, but [Spain] managed to change its smoking habit, for example".
Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature, appears in the Panama Papers, Spain's El Confidencial and La Sexta reported on Wednesday.
El Confidencial said it had accessed "abundant documents" in the terabytes of Panama Papers data that show Mr. Vargas Llosa: "was very close to controlling the Talome Services Corporation along with his ex-wife Patricia Llosa for a brief period in 2010".
They bought their offshore company via a Dutch intermediary, Pan-Investment Management, that also does business in Cyprus and Luxembourg, and used the couple's Madrid home as the contact address.
There was a flurry of e-mails to Mossack-Fonseca in the days prior to the Peruvian literary giant being awarded his Nobel Prize in 2010, in order to change the shareholder details. Two unnamed Russian citizens became the new shareholders on October 12 that year.
Sources close to Mario Vargas Llosa told El Confidencial that he was "very surprised" by the news and blamed the operation on "an investment advisor or intermediary who, without the consent of the Vargas Llosas, reserved this company to carry out some investment that was being studied".
Oxford University told The Spain Report on Monday that no changes had been made to the plan to award Pedro Almodóvar an honorary degree on June 22 at the university's annual Encaenia ceremony, following his being named in the Panama Papers scandal alongside his brother Agustín.
The British university announced on February 25 that it is to award Mr. Almodóvar a "Doctor of Letters degree, honoris causa", "subject to approval by Congregation", the "supreme governing body" of the institution.
"Mr Pedro Almodóvar is a director and screenwriter, winner of the Jean Renoir Award for Screenwriting Achievement, and Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He achieved international recognition for the film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown in 1988, and has since won multiple awards for Talk to Her, All About My Mother, and Volver, among others."
Agustín Almodóvar issued a statement on Monday lamenting the damage to his brother's public image.
Agustín Almodóvar, the brother of Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, issued a statement on Monday saying he "deeply laments" the damage to his world-famous brother's public image, which he blamed on his own lack of business experience at the time.
"From the beginning after creating El Deseo", he said, in reference to their production company: "Pedro and I divided up the tasks and duties very clearly. I took charge of all of the issues related to the management of the company, and he dedicated himself to all of the creative aspects".
"In this context, I would like to clarify that the creation of the company in 1991 was on the recommendation of my advisors given a possible international expansion of our company. Notwithstanding that, the company was left to die without activity because it did not fit in our way of working."
"I deeply lament the prejudice my brother's public image is suffering, cause solely and exclusively by my lack of experience in the first few years of operation of our family company."
"In any case, I reiterate that both my brother Pedro and I, as well as our producer, are up-to-date with all of our tax obligations."
PSV Eindhoven fans in Madrid for the match against Atlético Madrid on Tuesday night were filmed throwing coins and jeering loudly at beggar women in the Spanish capital's Plaza Mayor this afternoon. The mostly male Dutch fans, sitting on one of the central square's terraces drinking beer, hurled the coins onto the floor in front of several women who rushed and scrambled to pick them up from the floor, and then cheered when the women did so. The fans repeated the stunt several times. One older Spanish man was filmed trying to stop them, telling the taunting fans that "that's not right, you bastards".
Several Spanish journalists were arrested by police in Macedonia on Monday after following a refugee march to cross a river near the village of Idomeni, media outlets reported. Alberto Sicilia who writes for Público and reports for La Sexta TV, Mikel Konate, Mariano Bura-tini, Javier Bauluz, the editor of Periodismo Humano and Ane Irazabal, a reporter for Basque TV ETB, were detained. Reuters reported "around 30" journalists who had been following the migrants had been arrested in total, including a Reuters photographer. Sunday Times EU correspondent Bojan Pancevski reported 800 migrants and 37 journalists had been arrested. La Sexta said its team would be expelled to Greece after being fined and banned from re-entering Macedonia for one year. They have not been charged with a crime.
Judge Ismael Moreno Chamarro ordered the two puppet masters he had jailed on Saturday freed on bail on Wednesday afternoon, Spanish media reported, after the Public Prosector's Office reversed its recommendation and asked him to release Alfónso Lázaro de la Torre and Raul García Pérez but order the pair to specify a home address, to order them to appear before the court every day, to confiscate their passports and to prohibit them from leaving the country. Judge Moreno has ordered them to appear before the court daily and confiscated their passports. Cadena SER reported Mr. García's defence lawyer, Jaime Montero, had called the new measures "excessive" and "disproportionate".
The Public Prosecutor's Office in Madrid reversed its initial position on Wednesday and asked judge Ismael Moreno Chamarro to free two puppet masters jailed on Saturday without bail on accusations of glorifying terrorism, multiple Spanish media outlets reported. The prosecutor alleges that the risk of Alfónso Lázaro de la Torre and Raul García Pérez committing the same crime again has diminished since the weekend, given police "impounded all of the material used in the play". The prosecutor now recommends bail for the two men but also wants the judge to order them to specify a home address, to order them to appear before the court every day, to confiscate their passports and to prohibit them from leaving the country. The two men were arrested on Friday evening after parents reported them to police for the tone and content of their infants' puppet play, and Judge Moreno ordered them behind bars on Saturday on suspicion of glorification of terrorism, alleging a small sign pinned to one of the puppets read "long live Al-Qaeda-ETA". A media and legal outcry followed.
Two debates raged on Spanish political and journo Twitter on Wednesday morning, neither of them to do with the election of the Speaker. Both, of course, were related to Carolina Bescansa's baby boy Diego. There was criticism from many female journalists and politicians, on top of the comments earlier by Spanish feminists, about the idea of taking him so directly to work, when Mrs. Bescansa could have i) used the free nursery service in the Spanish Congress, ii) left him at home with her husband, or iii) used her generous new MP's salary to pay a babysitter to look after him in her office. The second debate was about whether or not Diego's face should be shown in media images or pixelated. Spanish law in theory requires media outlets not to publish photos of minors, but the opening of parliament is about as public a place as you will find in all of Spain. Mrs Bescansa requested his face be covered. Europa Press distributed a pixelated version. El País, El Mundo and ABC were all running smiley full-face shots.
BREAKING: A giant 177,000 interview exit poll for Spanish state broadcaster TVE suggests Popular Party has won Spain's 2015 general election. More information shortly.
The Spanish Home Office was criticised by Twitter users on Sunday morning after tweeting out a photo of Mariano Rajoy voting to the government account's 238,000 followers, with the message "Between these two images 38 years of democratic history have gone by in Spain". The black-and-white photo is of Transition-era politician Adolfo Suárez voting in 1977. Twitter users suggested in colourful terms that an official government account—and in this case the department responsible for organising today's ballot—should not be used in favour of any political party on general election day.
It is prohibited under Spanish law to publish the results of polls five days before a ballot takes place. The last ones were published in Spain on Monday, and suggested the Popular Party would finish first but with big losses, the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) would come second, Ciudadanos third and Podemos fourth. El Periodic d'Andorra has been publishing tracking data online. By Friday, though, the Prime Minister himself was recorded telling Angela Merkel, Jean Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk in Brussels that Podemos would now likely come second and Ciudadanos was back in fourth place. Spanish political blog Electograph decided to publish a series of tweets about fruit prices in Andorra. By the time markets closed on Saturday evening, the price of purple aubergines had indeed risen in line with the Prime Minister's own estimate to Mrs. Merkel, and the price of oranges had fallen sharply since Monday…to become the fourth most expensive fruit on the exchange.
A spokeswoman for the Spanish Home Office said election day had begun with "absolute normality". 100% of polling stations are operational. One village in La Rioja with six inhabitants has already finished casting its ballots. Party leaders began voting and their campaign teams made sure the images made it swiftly onto Twitter. Yesterday, Spain enjoyed its "day of reflection" and press teams sent out suitably thoughtful images of their candidates. Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez was pictured looking contemplative with his wife as they watched their daughter's basketball game. Mr. Rajoy was photographed looking pensive with a dog, on a bench in a park. The next official update will be at 2:30 p.m. and will include morning turnout data.
Spain's public broadcaster TVE will publish the results of a giant exit poll—"the biggest ever done in Spain for a [general election]", it says—based on 177,000 interviews carried out by TNS Demoscopia at 1,265 polling stations across the country. To give you some idea, the well-respected CIS surveys are based on 17,000 survey responses, and average polls on between 1,000-2,000 respondents. Atresmedia (Antena 3) will also publish an exit poll by GAD 3. The actual results will start coming in soon afterwards, though, and by the time the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Secretary hold their press conference at 10:30 p.m., 90% of the real results will be known, if all goes according to plan.
An El País article described Spain's shorter, stockier, brunette Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría as a "beast" on Wednesday, comparing her to a several-inches-taller, slim, blonde Dutch top model called Milou: "The beast is Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, Deputy Prime Minister. Beast because, like in the tale, she is the one who seduces and holds the power". Journalist Cristian Segura wrote he would prefer that his daughter "chose to be the beast, more than anything else because Milou must suffer terribly to stay in that shape". He recommended Milou fatten up a bit by eating some "calorific" Spanish chick-pea stew. The two met at a photo-op for Spanish bridal wear firm Pronovias.
Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) leader Pedro Sánchez was unrepentant on Tuesday morning after an aggressive verbal assault on Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy during a two-hour televised debate on Monday night in which he suggested Mr. Rajoy was not a decent man. During a radio interview, Mr. Sánchez reaffirmed his belief that he had only said "what millions of Spaniards think, and rightly so, we need decency back in politics and institutions and, above all, the Prime Minister's office". He said Spaniards should "vote to sack" Mr. Rajoy on Sunday. The Prime Minister, who retorted during the clash that Mr. Sánchez's comments were "contemptible, miserly and despicable", avoided mention of the encounter at a campaign rally on Tuesday during a campaign rally in Logroño (La Rioja), but senior Popular Party leaders blasted Mr. Sánchez's behaviour, labelling it "arrogant", "rude" and "aggressive" in a way that was "improper" for someone who means to become Prime Minister. The PP's spokesman in the European Parliament, Mr. González Pons, said Mr. Sánchez had been "winning votes for Podemos".
Mariano Rajoy (PP) and Pedro Sánchez (PSOE) will take part in a two-way TV debate on Monday night that will be broadcast live by several Spanish media outlets at 10 p.m. Spanish time. Organised by Spain's Academy of Television, it will be their only face-to-face debate of the election campaign and the first debate Mr. Rajoy has taken part in. Mr. Sánchez participated in the El País online debate and then the Antena 3 four-way debate. The PP sent Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría to that event. The bout will last for nearly two hours, including the ad breaks, and will be split into four blocks: "economy and jobs", "the welfare state", "institutional reforms" and "Spain in the world". This will be the first debate in which Spain's role in the world has been given its own section. Mr. Rajoy will sit on the right of the debating table, and Mr. Sánchez on the left.
Spain's Central Electoral Commission has ordered a nine-way election debate on state broadcaster TVE to be brought forward to 10 p.m. tonight (Wednesday), following a petition from Union, Progress & Democracy (UPyD). The debate had initially been scheduled by TVE for 12:15 a.m. on Thursday morning, but the Electoral Commission ordered it changed "as a compensatory measure" to offset the upcoming two-way debate between Mariano Rajoy and Pedro Sánchez and said it should be broadcast at prime time. None of the four leading candidates will attend, but the leaders of United Left (Alberto Garzón) and Union, Progress & Democracy (Andrés Herzog) will do so, along with seconds from the four leading parties (PP, PSOE, Podemos and Ciudadanos), two Catalan candidates from Democràcia i Llibertat (previously Junts Pel Sí, previously CDC) and Unió, and a candidate from the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV).
Pedro J. Ramírez, writing in his new project El Español, explained the significance of the front page used by Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera during the Antena 3 electoral debate on Monday night. He says he "personally highlighted the front page headline" with a biro and, after having a photo taken of the original 'Bárcenas document', took it straight to the high court accompanied by the paper's lawyer. The document showed regular illicit payments had been made to Mariano Rajoy while he was a minister. "When Nick Clegg saw the documents, he told me Cameron […] would only have lasted 'a few hours' after the publication of something that big", he writes: "But in Spain, British or North American democratic habits are conspicuously absent". Mr. Rajoy, of course, did not resign and is now running for re-election.
After beating the El País online debate on Monday night chatting to Piqueras on Telecinco, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was the star of the most-watched TV programme in Spain again on Wednesday night as well, as he hugged cushions, looked at old photos of himself to an Elton John soundtrack and sliced cheese in the kitchen while Bertin Osborne fried up some mussels to accompany the white wine. Ordinary Spaniards were treated to such gems as the Prime Minister admitting he went to the same primary school as Zapatero, that "being prime minister is great", asking Bertin over table football if he wanted to represent Spain at Eurovision, and telling Bertin, in list format, of the many towns and villages around the country he has visited. He asked Bertin after one goal if: "I seem as boring to you as some people say I am?". Audience data on Thursday morning confirmed 4.3 million Spaniards, or nearly a quarter of the total, had tuned in to watch the show.
At least twice as many Spaniards, nearly three million of them, watched the Telecinco interview with Mariano Rajoy (Popular Party) on Monday evening than had contact with the El País three-way debate between Pedro Sánchez (PSOE), Albert Rivera (Ciudadanos) and Pablo Iglesias (Podemos). Audience data showed 2.87 million people watched the Prime Minister's interview at 9 p.m., broadcast at the same time as the El País debate got underway. The El País debate was broadcast on 13TV, which had 755,000 spectators at that time on Monday night, and on the newspaper's website. The newspaper claimed "more than 300,000 tweets" over the course of the evening, but data from Crimson Hexagon showed 272,664 tweets over the course of two-and-a-half days using the hashtag #ElPaisDebate. Crimson Hexagon confirmed to The Spain Report, thought, that the total included retweets. Despite the numbers, El País reported Mr. Rajoy's interview had been "a flop".
Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, having decided not to attend the debate, was interviewed on Telecinco at the same time as Sánchez, Iglesias and Rivera clashed online at El País. Most Spanish journalists were watching and commenting on the El País debate. He tweeted about his interview later, saying the Popular Party planned to "lower taxes and create stable jobs" and that "I have been very hard on corruption". He also said he had "no interest in applying Article 155" of the Spanish Constitution in Catalonia (the one the Foreign Secretary described as "a political nuclear bomb") but that "all of the options are bad in Catalonia". The Prime Minister also announced a major new economic proposal: for the government to pay the part of social security payments corresponding to the first €500 of a worker's wages if a company gives the worker a permanent contract, or converts a temporary contract into a permanent one. Audience numbers for the interview will be out tomorrow.
The Spanish Association of Newspaper Publishers (AEDE), an umbrella organisation for Spain's main print titles, issued a statement on Thursday defending the Spanish media industry and freedom of the press in the country against the "accusations" of the New York Times, labelling The Times's version "a caricature of reality". AEDE said Spain is "characterised by media plurality, [a country] in which new media outlets with different editorial lines are continually being created" and that Spanish dailies had uncovered "numerous" stories about political and business corruption. "The article does not describe reality", publishers said, and was "unfortunate and full of unbalanced conventionalisms". AEDE claimed 17 million "faithful readers" of Spanish print titles. The latest General Market Study (EGM) data show 11.5 million readers for Spain's print titles. El País is the leading Spanish print title, with 1.5 million readers, behind sports paper Marca with 2.3 million readers.
The Archbishop of Valencia, Antonio Cañizares, weighed in on Europe's refugee crisis during a breakfast meeting in Valencia on Wednesday morning, Spanish news agencies reported. "Is this invasion of refugees full of saints?", he wondered: "Where will Europe be in a few years?". The head of the Catholic Church in the eastern Spanish region believes something is not right with all of the migrants crossing the Mediterranean this summer and perceives an existential threat to European and Spanish identity: "Let's be clear and not let everything through because it might look very good but it is really a Trojan horse for European societies, and especially for Spanish society". The Archbishop made the news in September after calling on his flock to "pray for the unity of Spain" before the Catalan elections.
El Español, the new media project of former El Mundo editor Pedro J. Ramírez—ousted from the daily he founded in 1989 after he published text messages between Mariano Rajoy and former Popular Party treasurer Luis Bárcenas in 2013—opened its website to the public on Wednesday, after 9.5 months of preparation. In its editorial, the newspaper said it launched with a sense of "outrage and enthusiasm", that the press in Spain was going through a "deep crisis" and that "in a country where many media outlets have ended up selling out to power—some out of need, others out of choice—El Español is born independent". Mr. Ramírez has managed to raise more than €18 million in capital—including more than 5,000 minority shareholders via a round of equity crowdfunding—and sell his new project to more than 10,000 paying subscribers during the preparatory period. Mr. Ramírez created El Mundo in 1989 after being sacked—also due to political pressure—as editor of Diario 16.
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".
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".
Rompesuelas, a 640 kg bull, was set loose in heavy rain to run to its death by lancing while animal rights activists were still sat in protest along the route during the controversial annual Toro De La Vega festival in Tordesillas (Castilla y León) on Tuesday morning. "They can't let the bull loose while we're still sat here", activists told El Diario: "there wasn't a single policeman around". "Does someone have to die to stop this?", asked another. One Telecinco journalist was hit with a walking stick whilst interviewing fans and protestors. The bull was killed some 20 minutes after being released. The Speaker of the Spanish Congress, Jesús Posada, and Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría refused to comment on the event. An Anonymous-like group calling itself La Nueve launched a denial-of-service attack on the Tordesillas Town Hall websites in protest. The Spanish Red Cross told 20 Minutos no one had been gored by the bull.
El País and The Guardian published an op-ed article by Pablo Iglesias on Monday in which the Podemos leader supports newly elected Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn: "At last we have an ally in the UK". He writes that the link between Mr. Corbyn's victory in the Labour leadership contest and his own rise to political fame in Spain are linked by "one thing: the failure of the social-liberal 'third way'" and that both are responses to the "identity crisis" in the Labour Party and Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE). Notwithstanding the chaos in Greece over the summer, Mr. Iglesias concludes that: "across Europe we are becoming stronger and stronger". Mr. Iglesias complained on Twitter that El País had changed the headline without consulting him—from a questioning "Why is everyone talking about the 'British Pablo Iglesias'?" to the declarative "The British Pablo Iglesias"—saying it was "not very ethical and elegant".
Delegates from the International Press Institute, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the European Federation of Journalists visited Madrid last week. A report published by the IPI in March said freedom of the press in Spain is under threat as a result of a “devastating financial crisis” and a period of “significant political, social and economic disruption comparable in recent terms only to the transition to democracy that began 40 years ago”. The report criticised the independence of public broadcaster TVE, the allocation of institutional advertising money, Spain’s new access to information law, question-less press conferences and the implications for journalists of the new Citizens’ Safety Law.
Silvia Gómez Ríos, the daughter of a couple assassinated in 1992 by ETA terrorist Iñaki Rekarte, has written an article in El Mundo expressing her outrage at both the interview and its content. “I remember the dinner my mother had prepared that day you decided to push the button”, she writes, adding that “it was all pain, and 23 years later, it is still pain”. Referring to the decision to record and broadcast the interview with Rekarte, she wonders: “In which country, except ours, would such a barbarous thing happen? Without warning the relatives of his victims that it was going to happen. We have just suddenly had to find him on TV…”. The article has been shared over 25,000 times on Facebook.
In Talavera de la Reina (Castilla La Mancha), 11 people were injured—one was gored and the rest badly bruised—by a bull that escaped from its pen at a bullfight in the town. Despite the animal’s dash for freedom, it never had a chance. Civil Guard agents, not having the traditional matador’s sword and cape to hand, chose a police car as their weapon, killing the bull by running it over and causing considerable damage to the front of their car. It is not known if the officers stamped their feet on the motorway before charging.
Vozpópuli writes in an editorial that the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Madrid has filed a criminal complaint against the newspaper’s editor, Jesús Cacho, for publishing an article on September 21, 2014 that denounced corruption within the judicial system in Albacete (Castilla La Mancha). A judge, who was not named in the article, took offence, and at a first court hearing in March, argued Mr. Cacho did not have a right to protect his sources, says the newspaper, and asked him if he had been paid to publish the article. Vozpópuli says it will defend itself “in the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court and wherever else is necessary in defence of freedom of speech”: “The Justice Minister, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the judges in Albacete are very wrong if they think that at this point in Spanish history they are going to make us cower with this criminal complaint”.
Bullfighter Saúl Jiménez Fortes is recovering in a Madrid hospital ward today, after being gored twice in the neck by a 640kg bull last night during a bullfight at the annual San Isidro festival and spending a night in intensive care. He was rushed off the sand by his colleagues, his hands trying to stem the flow of blood pouring out of his wounds. The surgeon who operated on him at the Las Ventas bullring, Dr. García Padrós, told El Mundo that Fortes, despite the seriousness of his injuries: “asked me to give him a couple of stitches so he could go back out and kill the bull”.
The National High Court in Madrid has suspended the strike planned by a football players trade union, affecting the last two matches of the season. The court agreed with the precautionary measures the Spanish Football League had petitioned it for, and said the League must deposit a €5 million bond with the court before 3 p.m. on Thursday for the suspension of the strike to take effect. The strike was announced by the Football Players’ Association after the government announced a new decree in April regulating the sale of TV rights to broadcast matches. The players want the forecast income channelled into paying unpaid wages.
Podemos finally has its first official song. Not THE official song, because it has not gone down well with Pablo Iglesias, but at least AN official song, after months of trying to use Franco-era songs of the people to end its rallies. Mr. Iglesias said he didn’t like the new tune: “Some colleagues have said that you have to listen 13 times, and then it starts to catch on and is great. Maybe after listening to it 13 times I’ll change my mind”. The author of the mix, Joël Iriarte, told El Mundo he was very happy with the result of his work, which was commissioned by the Podemos Culture Area.
German paper Der Spiegel published a story on Monday, citing a meeting of European Defence Ministers on Sunday, who in turn were talking about an eyewitness account from one of the injured Airbus employees who survived, saying the A400M that crashed in Seville did so because of “a massive technical problem” and “multiple engine failures”. Miguel Morer, the Chief Press Officer at the Spanish Ministry of Defence, told The Spain Report on Monday that the German story is: “absolutely false…Der Spiegel is lying”.
Spain’s Supreme Court has ruled that schools in Catalonia must teach 25% of their classes in Spanish, not Catalan, when a pupil expresses a desire to be taught in Spanish. The ruling will only affect the classes the pupil is in. The court has ordered that other core subjects, not just Spanish Language, be taught in Spanish. Deputy PM Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said the Catalan government should now obey the ruling, which criticises the Catalan government for not complying with earlier rulings on this matter.
Podemos and Ciudadanos spent Wednesday throwing online insults at each other, accusing the other of orchestrating anti-Podemos/Ciudadanos Twitter campaigns. Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera tweeted Podemos had organised its anti-Ciudadanos campaign…from Venezuela, in response to an anti-Ciudadanos hashtag that generated 80,000 tweets. Podemos replied that Mr. Rivera didn’t have a clue how the Internet or Twitter worked, and that he hadn’t provided any proof of his accusation.