Bye, bye Golden Visa

By: Sebastian Mariz, Owner and Managing Director of Influence Spain.


Contrary to popular belief, politics and policy rarely have anything to do with reality, and much more with voter perceptions and more importantly achieving majorities in parliament.

Rental prices have gone through the roof, housing prices are climbing and Pedro Sanchez has failed to apply rental freezes on “distorted” neighborhoods (in terms of pricing), as promised through his recently adopted housing law, or to deliver on his election campaign promise to make housing a right, and deliver affordable housing to vulnerable voters and/or low-income earners.

The word on the street is that foreign buyers, are to blame for a booming housing market across Spain, but in particular in urban hubs such as Madrid and Barcelona. In fact, Pedro Sanchez made it very clear in his 2023 electoral program and election campaign that speculation is to blame for high housing prices and bloated rental prices.  He vowed to end speculation and make housing affordable and accessible to all.

Regardless of its real effectiveness, announcing the end of the Golden Visa, is politically astute and entails zero risk for Pedro Sanchez.

Only the real estate industry, real estate agents and potentially some large real estate investors will publicly complain, arming him with enough ammunition to be able to publicly accuse these private sectors of acting against the public’s interest, blaming them for the housing crisis and of lining their pockets with fat profits, while projecting himself as the savior of the needy and vulnerable.

It gives the impression that he is taking action and doing something on the housing market, while committing him to very little and costing him nothing in terms of votes (none of the foreign buyers can vote).

It deviates voter perception away from failure to have any real impact on the housing market or to meet election promises, and equally importantly neutralizes the opposition in its attacks on this front. In fact, Sanchez gets the added bonus of being able to blame the opposition for having adopted the Golden Visa in the first place, and thus blaming it for fueling the price boom, and for promoting speculation on the Spanish housing market.

It helps consolidate the majority he needs in the Parliament to remain in power, by catering to the demands of his far-left coalition partners, and in particular SUMAR.

And finally, but not least, it fuels his campaign in the regional Basque and Catalan elections, helping differentiate his party from his opponents, and addressing something that can only be addressed nationally due to Constitutional constraints, thus leaving his Basque and Catalan opponents dead in the water on an issue that systematically appears in all polls, as one of the main concerns held by voters, nationally and regionally.

Bye, bye Golden Visa.


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