28 Jun, 2023 @ 19:15
1 min read

Spain’s speaker in Congress forced to back down after claiming ‘most of population has no problem paying rent’

Tribute To Joaquin Sabina And Presentation Of His Legacy In Madrid, Spain 05 Oct 2021
The president of the Congress of Deputies, Meritxell Batet speaks during a tribute at the Cervantes Institute, in Madrid. The Cervantes Institute pays a tribute to Joaquin Sabina with a colloquium talk under the theme 'Encounter around Joaquin Sabina'. The singer will also deposit 371 copies of the Argentine literary magazine 'Sur' in the institution's Caja de las Letras, thus becoming part of the Instituto Cervantes' Heritage Library. (Photo by Atilano Garcia / SOPA Images/Sipa USA) *** Local Caption *** 35428732

THE SPEAKER in Spain’s Congress of Deputies has been forced to apologise after she controversially stated that ‘most of the population has no problem paying their rent’. Meritxell Batet of the Socialist Party was slammed by her party’s allies for the statement, including the new leftist alliance Sumar

Her comments were made on Tuesday during an interview for the Cadena SER network in Catalonia, in the wake of the government’s decision to lift an ‘anti-crisis’ measure that froze rent increases for tenants.

The decision has been slammed by unions in Madrid and Catalonia, however, which claim that there will be a wave of ‘invisible evictions’ as a result.

Batet is also running as a candidate for the Catalan Socialist Party in the upcoming snap general election, which will be held on July 23, meaning that her comments could be damaging for her prospects at the polls. 

After the controversy, she took to her Twitter account to claim that she had not explained herself properly, and that she was aware of what it cost to pay for a place to live. 

“Paying rent and mortgages represents a large part of the income of families every month,” she added. 

Her rival parties were quick to jump on the issue, however. “Anyone who has a look around any online estate agent can see how the prices are unaffordable and are going up and up,” said Sumar candidate in Barcelona, Aina Vidal. 

“If you can’t pay your rent and you vote for the same party as Batet, who is wrong, her or you? Think about it,’ added congressional spokesperson for the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), Gabriel Rufian. 

The Spanish government put in a series of measures last year aimed at helping citizens cope with the cost-of-living crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and high inflation. While some of these measures are being lifted, such as the rent freeze, others are staying in place including the scrapping of VAT on essential foodstuffs.

Read more:

Spain’s conservative Popular Party slips in the polls ahead of the July 23 general election

ETA victims call on Spain’s Congress to ban convicted terrorists from public office

Spanish Cabinet extends raft of measures put in place to help ease cost-of-living crisis

Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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