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.