SPAIN TODAY: Greek Drama, Party in Magaluf, Infanta Cristina Exed


by Rose Maramba


(Or the Many Uses of the Greek Referendum in Spain)

The Greek referendum last 5 July may be about the acceptance or rejection by Greece of the draconian austerity measures that the Troika (European Commission, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund) was set on imposing as a condition for rescuing the country from imminent total financial collapse. These measures are basically about sustainable public finances, touching on touchy subjects like VAT and pension reforms.

But listening to some European leaders you’d think this was really more about them and their respective governments than about the plight of Greece.

Spain was particularly forceful in declaring that a “No” vote meant “Grexit” from the eurozone and a return to the drachma which could then severely strain the very foundations of the EU though not to the extent of causing the whole edifice to crumble and wallow in its own debris. After all, the Greek GDP is only 2% of the EU economy, says the Spanish government.

While that government dutifully supported the Troika’s campaign for a “Yes” vote in the Greek referendum, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy assured his people that they have nothing to fear in case the Greeks voted negatively. (As it turned out it was a landslide victory for Oxi: 61.31% of the valid votes cast – 94.2% of total votes – gave the Troika a thumbs down; 38.69% said “Yes”.) Admittedly Spain is still suffering from an awfully high unemployment rate of 23%. But its economy is expanding at a startling 3% p.a., the best showing in Europe.

Even then the Prime Minister warns that if in the general election at the end of the year the Spaniards voted Podemos to power, the radical leftist political party seen as the mirror image of the Greek Syriza, Spain’s economic recovery will ground to a halt and the economy will nosedive, plunging the Spanish people into the same lamentable situation as the Greeks’ who are in dire need of a third bailout from the Troika.

Both Podemos and Syriza are phobic to the cure-all austerity measures that the IMF is patently partial to, and may even be suspected of fiscal irresponsibility. And Podemos, who has publicly  and unconditionally supported Alexis Tsipras’ campaign, first for presidency of Greece and then for the “Oxi” vote at the referendum, may now feel it has a realistic chance of governing Spain, given that there’s a strong parallelism between the two leaders and their parties.

All the more reason for the rightist government of Prime Minister Rajoy to present the Greek drama as something Spain should avoid at all cost.

The Greek referendum has its obvious uses in the EU member-states hardest hit by the recent – and, in some aspects, lingering – European financial-economic crisis, Spain not the least.


A Damper at Magaluf Party

Magaluf, on the holiday island of Mallorca, is getting to be too much of a questionable thing. Thanks to the excesses of visitors wet and wild with surf and booze, the resort town in the Calvia region is acquiring a well-earned ill repute and the authorities are under great pressure to introduce tough curbs on the most offensive and reprehensible of them.

Reluctant to put a highly successful tourism industry at risk, the local government has, for years, refused to take action. But last summer an 18-year old girl from Northern Ireland was videoed performing sex on more than 20 men while on a bar crawl. The shocking exploit went viral, causing a commotion all around. And before summer was in full swing this year, the Town Hall got ready to implement a new law against the debauchery.

So now, where before they didn’t have to, bar crawl companies need to apply for a local license which is obtainable only upon showing proof of social responsibility and ap-propriate civil insurances.

Additionally, all bar crawl guides are now required to wear specific jackets to make it easy for the local police to identify them.

It used to be that a throng of tourists (chiefly British) could join a bar crawl. Today a maximum of 20 at a time can. Operators who exceed the limit will be fined.

Is the party in Magaluf over then? Not quite. Just don’t pull an Irish-teen stunt or binge outside the bars unless the (outdoor) area has been set aside by duly licensed bars for the purpose.

You’re not to parade yourself nude or drink or pee in the streets. And don’t go balconing—i.e., climb from one balcony to another or throw yourself from the balcony into the swimming pool. You’ll get slapped with a €1000 fine if you get caught.

How tough will the local government truly be with the offenders? Many in Magaluf, and Calvia in general, think that a crackdown is long overdue. Even local bar owners want bar crawl outlawed. Of course it brings in multitudes of customers who, on the other hand, spend pittance. For £30 the notorious bar crawl organizer Carnage Magaluf (it was the company that the filmed Irish teenager joined) is offering  “4 Amazing Bars 2 Unbelievable Nightclubs 4 Hours Unlimited Free Shots ( 8pm – 12am ) 4 Hours Unlimited Free Bar ( 12am – 4am ) Free Vest / T-shirt.”

On top of it, the regular clients are spooked by the presence of booze-crazed crawlers.

But the Town Hall might opt for flexibility; going uncompromising can’t be good for the tourist trade. Meanwhile there are some websites out there openly encouraging holidaymakers to get passed-out drunk, the girls to hurry and do the things they’ll be ashamed of (“I can’t wait to be ashamed of all the things I do in Magaluf 2015!”), and not to take all the restrictions that Magaluf is trying to put in place seriously (click here).


Still on Mallorca:
The Infanta Cristina is Exed

It’s not every day that a son repossesses what the father has given his sister. But that is precisely what King Felipe VI has done recently. He has taken away the title of Duchess of Palma de Mallorca which King Juan Carlos created and conferred on the Infanta Cristina as a wedding gift when she wedded Olympic handball player Iñaki Urdangarin back in 1997.

Urdangarin is accused of siphoning €6 million in public funds through the non-profit Noos foundation he co-founded with partner Diego Torres. And the Infanta is deemed accessory to the alleged crimes of Urdangarin because it would be “difficult to commit [those] without at least the knowledge and acquiescence of his wife,” according to Judge Jose Castro of Trial Court Nº 3,Palma de Mallorca,  where the Infanta will be tried for  tax fraud and money laundering.

For the first time in the history of the Spanish monarchy a royal princess will stand criminal trial. And she’s sixth in line of succession to the Spanish throne too, having doggedly refused to renounce that right on the grounds that she has not committed any wrongdoing.

Felipe VI ascended to the throne in June 2014 after his father, King Juan Carlos, abdicated in his favor hounded by family scandals and plummeting approval ratings. Given the string of corruption scandals that festers public institutions, including the monarchy, Felipe needs to show that in his reign no one is above the law.

Withdrawing the title of Duchess of Palma from Her Royal Highness, which extends over to Urdangarin as Duke Consort, is not so much a breach of the principle that one is innocent until proven guilty as the fact that the king’s family can’t be too unblemished before the eyes of the people in these unsettled times. The long history of the monarchy in Spain is “embellished” with monarchs driven out by their subjects into exile.

Besides, the Spaniards need a leader to look up to and Felipe VI wants to be of service in that role.