PREDICTING next year’s first ‘burning’ issue is easy, as come 2010 certain items won’t be burning anymore: at some point during the first half of the year, smoking in any enclosed public space in Spain will be totally prohibited.

How the new legislation (some of the most restrictive in Europe) goes down with Spain’s hotel, bar and restaurant owners remains to be seen; particularly as when a partial smoking ban was introduced in 2006, it only affected one establishment in five.

Various associations are now predicting a total meltdown of small, family-owned bars due to the all-inclusive ban, so we are sure to hear howls of protest before the summer.

If Zapatero doesn’t get better news over the economy there will be cries for his resignation

The early months of 2010 will also prove crucial as to whether the search for the remains of Spanish poet, Federico Garcia Lorca, continues.

If Zapatero doesn’t get better news over the economy there will be cries for his resignation

Lorca was executed at the start of the Spanish Civil War and his body flung into a mass grave. But two months of searching in an area based on the research of Irish Lorca-expert, Ian Gibson, has revealed “a big rock” and little else.

Meanwhile, Spanish experts have begun to challenge Mr Gibson’s conclusions as to the whereabouts of the mass grave and an abandonment of the search could prove a serious blow to advocates of the Law of Historical Memory.

One very safe prediction for 2010 is that the world of Spanish politics will not change one iota – the PP and PSOE parties will continue to be at each others’ throats for every one of the New Year’s 365 days, exchanging vitriolic accusations and insults.

However, it will be interesting to see whether the Zapatero government – which was left on the back foot for most of 2009 thanks to the economic crisis – decides attack is the best means of defence and adopts a more aggressive policy with its political opponents next year.

That said, 2010 is likely to prove a key year in the political career of Sr Zapatero. With rumblings of discontent already sounding over his handling of Spain’s economy (a few even from his own party), should the New Year not bring better economic news, the whispers of a possible resignation will become cries and the voices calling for a snap election are sure to be heard again.

somewhere in Spain another huge corruption scandal will blow up, with councillors and their cronies arrested

It will also be interesting to see whether Sr Zapatero’s decision to pay a multi-million dollar ransom to Somalian pirates in order to free the crew of a Spanish fishing boat has repercussions in 2010 – it could be that trawlers bearing the Spanish flag are now seen as an aquatic species of milch cow in the Indian Ocean.

Another safe prediction for 2010 is that sometime, somewhere in Spain another huge corruption scandal will blow up, with councillors and their cronies arrested, scandalous amounts of money having disappeared and shocking details about just how blatant they were while pilfering the municipal coffers…we’ll have to wait and see.

Of course, just to prove there’s nothing really ‘new’ about the New Year, all of the perennial issues affecting Spain will probably rear their ugly heads throughout 2010. Spain’s (supposedly) close relationship with Morocco will continue to fluctuate according to how blatantly the Moroccans’ disregard EU quotas on fishing and fruit and vegetable production.

And the voices clamouring for Catalan independence will continue to sound, although it will be interesting to see whether the poor turnout at the recent unofficial referendum on Catalan independence has doused their spirits for 2010.

And we are likely to hear from Basque terrorists, ETA, sooner rather than later. Although 2009 was one of the worst in ETA’s history, with their leaders arrested and numerous valuable arms caches being discovered, a beast is always at its most dangerous when wounded and the terrorists will be looking to show they are still a viable force in the New Year.

From a British perspective, hopefully 2010 will see Gibraltarian authorities wake up to the fact that handing out red and yellow striped targets for machine gun practice five miles from the coast of a country with a red and yellow striped flag is a really dumb idea – at least, if you are hoping to cooperate with their police force on controlling drug smuggling.

On the sports front, Spanish interest in Formula One racing will explode again in March when Fernando Alonso pulls on his Ferrari helmet – although it will wither just as fast as it did in 2009 if he fails to win races.

And Cristiano Ronaldo’s bid to become San Ronaldo de Madrid will rise or fall on whether his team atones for last season’s 2-6 thrashing when they play Barcelona at home in April.

And finally, there will be World Cup fever in June, with Spain going to the competition not just as favourites but with a strong chance of actually winning the thing.

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  1. We could all use a bit of Lorca’s spirit now….even those of us in the USA and other parts of the world.

    But then, I hope they never find him…a dead man in Spain is more alive than anywhere else in the world. And we badly him now.

  2. Good article except for the bit about the red and yellow target! It’s not too much to do with a ‘British perspective but a NATO one. Britain is in NATO (as is Spain); the standard NATO sea target is red and yellow (which actually looks nothing like the Spanish flag). Spain uses this as well for target practice. What’s the problem? Secondly, the RGP and the Guardia Civil are very adult about all this nonsense and get on extremely well and act very closely with each other especially on smuggling and terrorism issues, despite the actions and words of politicians on both sides.

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