SPAIN TODAY: A Ticklish Paternity Suit, Diminishing Joblessness & the Socialists in Madrid



By Stephanie Riley
Photos: S. Riley unless otherwise stated


Royal Paternity Suit

The Spanish Supreme Court is investigating one of two paternity suits against the father of the current King Felipe VI of Spain, King Juan Carlos I, who retains both the title and style he enjoyed in his reign. Prior to Juan Carlos’ abdication in June 2014, he was immune from legal prosecution. Although today special legislation grants him protection from lower courts, he must still answer to the Supreme Court. This is the first legal challenge that has been accepted against Juan Carlos since his abdication.

The Supreme Court will be examining a paternity claim filed by a woman from Ghent, Belgium, Ingrid Sartiau. Sartiau, born in 1966, claims that her mother and the former king had a brief relationship while he was Prince of Spain. While the Supreme Court has accepted to investigate’s Sartiau’s paternity claim, it has dismissed a second paternity suit brought forward by a Spanish man, Alberto Sola Jimenez, for lack of legal basis.

Sartiau and Sola made headlines in 2012 when they took a DNA test which revealed that there was a 91% chance that they shared one parent. However their claims were dismissed at the time due to the royal immunity of the then reigning Juan Carlos. Juan Carlos and his legal team have been given 20 days to file their answer to Sartiau’s claim. If the parties don’t reach an agreement prior to the deadline, a closed-door hearing will likely be held.

Of the two paternity suits, what really tickled the imagination of the Spanish people was Sola Jimenez’s, given that in the unlikely event that he is proven to be King Juan Carlos son, he will have earned himself  the irrefutable right to the Spanish throne, being the older son (he is 56 years old). After a very brief reign, King Felipe VI, aged 47,  will have had to step down from the throne.


Unemployment Rate Improves

According to the poll of the active working population in Spain (EPA), the Spanish work force began to recuperate in 2014. During the third quarter of 2014, Spain’s unemployment rate dropped more than a percentage point instilling promise of a recovering economy after a six-year slump that began with the world financial crisis in 2008. In the third quarter of 2007, when the employment rate first began to fall, there were 20.5 million people employed to the less than two million unemployed, and at the end of the most recent quarter those numbers showed  an approximately 5.4 million unemployed to the 17.6 million employed. The current jobless rate is the lowest in three years.

In the last 12 months, the number of jobless people dropped by 195,200 and 433,900 new jobs were created throughout Spain. By the end of 2014, the unemployment rate was down to 23.7%, a definite improvement for the Spanish economy. The Spanish government expects the situation to grow even better throughout 2015 with an estimated creation of 622,000 jobs by the end of the year. These hopes appear to be warranted due to continuous economic expansion during 2014.

All the opposition parties are however unanimous in pointing out that the created jobs are precarious, most of which last months if not just weeks or even days.



Juan Barranco and the Madrid Socialist Party

The Madrid Socialist Party (PSM) held a ceremony last month in commemoration of the former president of PSM Tierno Galván. During this ceremony, held in La Almudena cemetery, 66-year old Juan Barranco gave a speech in which he announced that he will be stepping down from all public and political offices and will no longer be acting as the president of PSM after 37 years of political activity. However, he said that he will continue to have an active presence within the party. Barranco began his political career in 1977 and was the mayor of Madrid from 1986 until 1989.

Tomás Gómez, the general secretary of PSM, has accepted Barranco’s decision and proposed to the municipal council that councillor Pedro Zerolo take the place of Barranco. Gómez has explained his choice of Zerolo, Secretary for Social Movements and Relations with NGOs of the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE), saying he is “…un hombre con fuerza y mucha energía (A man with a lot of strength and energy)” — in reference to his admirable strength of character and indefatigable commitment to social causes but presumably also in allusion to his illness. Zerolo suffers from cancer.

The choice of Zerolo to fill Barranco’s place seems to promise a strong political presence of PSM in the Madrid government due to Zerolo’s passion for his political party and its goals for the future.




Photo of Boy-or-Girl? pregnancy, featured image, by Petr Kkratochvil, PD



STEPHANIE RILEY ID picGuidepost staff writer Stephanie Riley grew up in Texas but attended the University of Arkansas where, as a perennial of the dean’s list, she earned her Bachelor’s degree ahead of time. She currently lives in Madrid and enjoys living in the city and learning about its rich culture and history. In her free time, she loves to read as well as travel and learn new languages. She speaks Spanish fluently (apart from her native English, of course) and is currently learning French. Moreover, she plans to continue learning from others and experiencing all that life has to offer through different cultures and people.