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REVIEW: Ten stories that shaped the news in Spain in 2022

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REVIEW: Ten stories that shaped the news in Spain in 2022
Wildfires, war in Ukraine, the Melilla migrant tragedy and healthcare protests have all dominated the news in Spain in 2022. Photos: Miguel Riopa, Genya Savilov, Fadel Senna, Oscar del Pozo/AFP

With 2022 drawing to a close, The Local takes a look back at ten events that shaped the news in Spain this year.



Inflation has been a problem the world over in 2022 but one felt particularly hard in Spain, where it reached a 38-year high. Prices of everything from olive oil and cheese to utility bills and petrol have soared and made living costs incredibly difficult for many Spaniards, with experts estimating that people in Spain spent on average €1,100 more on daily costs in 2022 than the previous year.

READ ALSO: Rising inflation in Spain: Six cost-cutting ways to fight it

The EU’s Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) concluded that Spain is where the cost difference is greatest, however, especially when looking at the EU’s largest economies: Germany, France, Italy and Spain. 

Driven by the war in Ukraine, Spanish food prices jumped 15.4 percent in October from a year earlier, their biggest increase in nearly three decades, according to the National Statistics Institute. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)


War in Ukraine

Similarly, Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February and the ensuing war have been big news in Spain. Ukrainian flags have become commonplace not only in bigger cities but small towns across the country. The war was one of the causes of the rampant inflation this year, and Spain has taken in over 150,000 refugees, and also sent weapons, health equipment, medicines, fuel, clothing, and even generators.

And rather strangely, towards the end of the year Ukrainian embassy buildings were caught up in the worrying letter bomb trend that involved animal eyes and a booby-trapped letter sent to Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

Spanish military personnel trained a group of 400 Ukrainian soldiers as part of the EU military assistance to Ukraine amid the country's ongoing conflict with Russia. (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

Forest fires and heatwaves

Despite torrential rains and a cold snap in recent weeks in some parts of Spain, 2022 was a scorcher - with July being the hottest month in Spain since records began in 1961 and temperatures almost 3C above normal. The mercury regularly reached the high-40s in southern Spain, and the northern regions experienced unusually hot weather.

Sadly, though Spain is renowned for its sunny climate. 2022's temperatures were fatal for some, with over 4,000 people dying during the Spain's three olas de calor (heatwaves).

The fierce temperatures also had a knock-on effect, with droughts and forest fires common during the summer months. In fact, 2022 had more forest fires recorded than any year since 2006 - 55 large fires in total that scorched more than 293,155 hectares of land across the country and created quite an apocalyptic feeling at times over the summer.


A helicopter drops water as members of the Forest Fires Reinforcement Brigades (BRIF) work to put out a wildfire in the Moncayo Natural Park, Aragon, on August 15, 2022. Photo: ANDER GILLENEA/AFP


Health protests

Though the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have subsided (despite masks still being a requirement on public transport), Spain's internationally renowned healthcare system has struggled in 2022 and seen protests across the country demanding a stop to the deterioration of public services and slow privatisation of the healthcare system.

Thousands of doctors, other healthcare workers and other supporters of Spain's strained healthcare system have taken to the streets of Andalusia, Madrid as well as other Spanish regions and cities to call for changes.

200,000+ protesters gather at Madrid's Cibeles square during a demonstration called by citizens under the slogan "Madrid stands up for its public health. Against the destruction of primary health care" on November 13, 2022. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)


Startups Law

Spain's long awaited 'Startups Law' was finally passed in November, aimed at attracting foreign investment, entrepreneurs and digital nomads. It is due to come into force in early 2023 and has arguably been the biggest topic of interest for our foreign readers in 2022.

Here's the 15 things you need to know about it (from tax perks to a new visa) and a checklist of things digital nomads should consider if they're consider moving to Spain.

spain startups law The new legislation includes tax deductions for foreign startups, remote workers and digital nomads as well as a new visa. (Photo by VANO SHLAMOV / AFP)


UK driving licence debacle

2022 has been a frustrating year for thousands of UK licence holders living in Spain who since May 1st have not been allowed to drive in the country. It's a long-foreseen consequence of Brexit but after more than two years of negotiations, Spanish and UK authorities have still not been able to finalise a deal on the recognition of UK licences in Spain and the previous grace periods offered to drivers have run out.

The latest important update from the British Ambassador was in late November when he announced a deal had been reached for the exchange of British licences in Spain, but the legislation still has to make its way through Spain's bureaucratic maze, which could take weeks if not months.



Melilla tragedy

In June, the news cycle in Spain was filled with the tragic images of the Melilla tragedy, in which at least 23 migrants died in a single day (NGOs say more) when trying to enter into Spain from Morocco through the Spain's North African territory of Melilla.

It has since been claimed by Amnesty International that both Spanish and Moroccan border guards 'contributed' to the fatalities.

It's a sad reminder that Spain's migrant crisis has been ongoing throughout 2022. Since 2018, six people die every day trying to reach Spain.

READ ALSO: Why are Ceuta and Melilla Spanish?

Protestors hold a banner reading "Against the massacre in Melilla" as they take part in a anti-racism demonstration "against the deaths at the borders" in Barcelona. (Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP)


Controversial laws

After having most of their time in office swallowed up by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pedro Sánchez's PSOE-led government wasted no time trying to make up for it 2022, passing a series of progressive but controversial laws.

One of these were the Trans Law, new gender self-identification legislation that has faced widespread criticism from across the country and political spectrum. 

The other was the new sexual consent law passed in the summer, known as the 'only yes means yes' (solo sí es sí) law that has caused outrage by accidentally reducing sentences (and even releasing) some convicted sexual criminals. 

As the year ends, the government is trying desperately to reform the law and recover from the political own goal.

Spain's Minister of Equality Irene Montero has spearheaded the controversial sexual consent law. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)

Spanish politics 

2022 was quite the year for politics in Spain. The main opposition party, PP, replaced its leader scandal-ridden leader Pablo Casado with Alberto Núñez Feijóo, a man perceived to be a moderate, steady pair of hands. Yet after an initial poll boost, Pedro Sánchez (who many assumed would be a one-term pandemic Prime Minister) has regained ground in recent months. That is, until the recent political own goals of the disastrous sexual consent law and his politically risky ventures into the Catalonia question.

The centre-right PP won regional elections in traditionally socialist Andalusia in June, and far-right Vox entered into a regional government coalition in Castilla y León in April. Some believe the PP will need to join forces with Vox if they want to take hold of the national government.

With a general election slated for some time by the end of 2023, next year promises to be an eventful one in Spanish politics with much to be won - and lost.

Will 2023 be Pedro Sánchez's last year in power in Spain? Photo: Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD/AFP.


World Cup debacle

After a promising start to the Qatar World Cup with a 7-0 thumping of Costa Rica, it was certainly a forgettable tournament for La Roja as Spain were kicked out on penalties by neighbours Morocco following a toothless 0-0 draw. For many, it spelt the end of the famed tiki-taka passing and possession game that won Spain the trophy in 2010.

For a country with such footballing pedigree, it came as little surprise to anyone in Spain that coach Luis Enrique was almost immediately sacked.

After struggling to score for 120 minutes against a defensively strong Morocco, Spain's players missed three penalties in the shootout. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)


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