Saturday salon 26/12

1. Spanish elections

Wall Street Journal has the story, or you could try The Guardian, or The Independent.

The ruling conservative Popular Party was reduced to 28.7% of the vote, followed by the main socialist party PSOE with 22%. These two parties normally win 70-80% of the vote, now reduced to around 50%. Third was Podemos, a far-left anti-austerity party less than two years old. Next was Ciudadanos, a centre-right party, with 13.9%.

Parties of the right can muster 163 of the 176 needed for government. Parties of the left get to 161. Given that a coalition of PP and PSOE is unlikely, small regional parties are likely to come into play.

There has been a move to the left, and the left may in the end form government. If they do, the conservatives control the senate. Whatever happens it seems there will need to be more than three parties in coalition.

Election authorities said 73.2% of Spain’s 36 million voters turned out, nearly five percentage points higher in the election four years ago.

2. Have we reached peak iPhone?

Apple on the stock market has lost a mere $AU223 billion in value in the past six months, 21 per cent below its July peak. Rival smartphone manufacturer Samsung is also struggling to maintain growth in a market that appears to be saturated. iPhones account for over 60% of Apple’s revenue.

So what will the next big thing be that we didn’t know we needed, and will Apple invent it?

3. Michelle Guthrie the new ABC supremo

Ranald Macdonald gives her a provisional B-plus and points out that she is well-acquainted with the Murdochs, having worked for them for 13 years.

She commits to editorial independence but is open to advertising and paywalling some of the content. Eric Abetz has urged her to “stop the lefty love-in”.

Count me amongst the worried.

4. ‘Remarkable’ trade deal for farmers

It has been hyped as a remarkable deal for farmers, but we need to take a breath. The WTO at its Nairobi meeting has resolved to end export subsidies for a range of agricultural products, such as sugar, meat, dairy, grain, wine, fruit, processed foods and cotton.

Domestic subsidies remain, as do tariffs and quotas. Produce can still be rejected on bogus health grounds.

Also, at the end of this article:

    The IT trade deal was also struck with members agreeing on eliminating tariffs on 201 information technology products valued at over $1.3 trillion per year. Approximately, 65 per cent of tariff lines will be fully eliminated by July 1, 2016. Most of the remaining tariff lines will be completely phased out in four stages over three years. This means that by 2019, almost all imports of IT products will be duty free.

Introduction to Saturday salon

Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.


An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

    The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

2 thoughts on “Saturday salon 26/12”

  1. That seems a good and concise overview of what happened in Spain.

    Like Australia and Greece, Spain has been plagued by the triple evils of corruption, fiscal stupidity and the lack of real career opportunities for the majority of its young people, (the 26% unemployment rate among young people masked the far more serious problems of underemployment and misemployment – just like Australia).

    Add to that, the wrecked hopes and ambitions of Spain becoming an important power again, after a century or two of slumber. In the Nineties, Spain was displacing the United States in what the Americans considered their own markets in Hispanic America – mainly because the Spanish were far better attuned to what the people in those markets actually needed – but now, having gained beach-heads there, Spain lacks the money to exploit that tremendous advantage.

    That situation is similar to the Australian push into Asia – though in Australia’s case, it was sheer stupidity and gullibility that led to Australia’s potential customers becoming its new owners. So far, there have not been widespread raids by Peruvians or Venezuelans on Spanish productive assets and Spain still has worthwhile markets in Hispanic America..

    That said, the main lesson I can see for Australia in the Spanish election is that no matter how deeply entrenched a corrupt and inefficient “Two Party Racket” may be, it can still be beaten in the ballot-box. Maybe that is why The Ministry Of Truth here has given so little attention to any news about the Spanish election whereas several months ago, we couldn’t open a newspaper or turn on a TV without being bombarded with terrible propaganda stories about those awful, spendthrift, lazy, lying Greeks – at the time, we seemed only days away from declaring war on Greece. News of the Spanish election would cause a lot more worry to those entrenched in power here than would any horror stories of Greek debt default.

  2. Thanks, Graham.

    “Two Party Racket” has certainly been beaten in the Senate. We are stuck with it for now in the reps and in Qld, but the electorate is increasingly volatile.

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