Repeat General Election Announced 

Spaniards will be called back to the polls for a second general election – the 4th in as many years – on November 10th after PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez failed to drum up support for his presidential investiture, which would have been due on September 23rd.

King Felipe VI spent two days talking and listening to 15 party leaders and spokespersons and concluded that none of them – not even caretaker president Sánchez, who won the most votes in April 28th elections – has sufficient support from their rivals to be sworn in. The monarch is usually required to officially invite a candidate to form a government following a general election and this candidate would attend an investiture debate where a majority of votes from all MPs would be needed in the first round – 176 out of 350 – or a ‘simple majority’ of more ‘yesses’ than ‘no’s’ in the second round if the first failed would be needed for the new or repeating president to take up office.

Until four years ago, all this was a mere formality – elections were a straight contest between the two largest parties; the left-wing socialists (PSOE) and right-wing PP and the chances of an exact tie of 175 seats earned each were fairly remote. Now, with newer independent parties having appeared on the scene – centre-right Ciudadanos, far-right Vox and left-wing Podemos – every election has resulted in a hung Parliament and is likely to do so henceforth. Sánchez’s socialists earned 123 seats out of the 350 in the April election, which he called to give him a democratic mandate after taking power from the PP last June through a no-confidence vote against the party.

Spain Top In Europe For Electric Car Sales

Spain is leading the way in Europe in electric car sales, with a total of 166,905 new registrations in the first six months of 2019 – representing a growth of 88.5%. The Association of European Automobile Constructors (ACEA) says in 2018, Spain showed the greatest growth in new electric car sales out of Europe’s top five markets, with 5,452 vehicles, or an increase of 141.5%. By contrast, growth in clean-fuel vehicle sales was only 60.3% in the UK, 80.1% in Germany and 46% in France, with only Italy coming close, at 123.6%.

In the second quarter of 2019, a total of 83,263 electric cars were sold in Europe, representing an increase of 89.7% on the second quarter of 2018. Hybrid vehicle sales went down in Europe in the first half of this year by 13.7%, to 83,409 and by 22% in the second quarter, to 40,090.

When choosing a new car, drivers are tending to opt for hybrid or electric rather than gas-powered vehicles and sales of these fell by 3.5% across the continent from January to June. They remain more popular than other forms of green fuel, with 128,421 newly-registered gas or ethanol cars sold in the first half of 2019. Petrol remains the most-purchased vehicle types with 4.93 million cars sold straight off the forecourt.

Diesel has fallen from favour, with 17.1% fewer sold in the first six months of 2019 in Europe, although still outstripping electric, hybrid and gas with 2.63 million produced and sold. The main barriers to drivers who are seeking new cars switching to electric are the cost of purchase and concerns over whether or not they will find charging points in time. Spain, local councils and regional governments are making concerted efforts to overcome these two obstacles, with a recent upsurge in the number of chargers fitted in public places – mostly in shopping centres, on industrial estates or high streets – and grants available for anyone opting to switch their petrol and diesel cars for electric.

Man Finds Roman Burial Chambers In His Back Garden

José Avilés, from Carmona, was stunned when the ancient graveyard structure surfaced whilst workmen were lowering the ground level and demolishing part of a broken wall to make way for his new extension. It has been described as a hole of around a metre square through which a stone arch is clearly visible, giving access to a second chamber with a domed roof.

A specialist found eight niches with the chamber, six of which contained ceramic urns housing the ashes of the deceased. Some were made of glass and protected by a lead outer coating and three were engraved with what may have been the names of those inside.

Remains of cremated bones, plus some of the deceased’s chattels and funerary offerings including vases, dishes and glass and ceramic cups have been uncovered in the chambers.

José now intends to alter the plans for his house extension to incorporate the ancient structure as a ‘feature’. He and the family want to keep it accessible and if possible, restore it, but this will depend upon whether they are allowed to do so, how much it will cost and whether the town, provincial or regional heritage authorities foot the bill or provide a grant. They would like to be able to open up the site to historians and archaeologists for further study, but say their intention to do so will depend upon ‘institutional procedures and requirements and the end cost, if any.

Dinosaurs and Crocodiles Lived Together 

Crocodiles lived side by side with dinosaurs 95 million years ago, according to archaeologists in the province of Guadalajara who are working on an established prehistoric dig.

One of the researchers at the settlement in Algora, Adán Pérez García, says the ancestors of modern-day crocodiles, along with the ‘primitive, early’ strains of the species, both shared a habitat with grass-eating dinosaurs during the High Cretacean era.

Historians working on the dig in Algora have found a partial skeleton of a small herbivore which appears to be a new species of sauropod and is likely to be the oldest representative in Europe of the Titanosaurs – one of the largest and most diverse populations of dinosaurs living on the continent towards the end of the Cretacean period. They resided in what would have been ‘tropical coastal’ habitats dotted with huge forests – a conclusion reached based upon the enormous biodiversity of species discovered in the Algora area, reveals Pérez García. Since 2016, they have unearthed over 400 fossils of crocodiles, fish, tortoises and Titanosaurs.

New Species Of Insect Found 

A species of insect estimated to be 105 million years old has been found fossilised in a chunk of amber dug up from an archaeological dig in the province of Teruel. It was found by historians from Oxford University’s Natural History Museum and from Spain’s Geo-Mining Museum in the village of San Just in Aragón’s southernmost province.

Teruel’s amber sources are turning out to be a gold mine for experts studying the Cretacean era and the latest finding is key in understanding how insect claws evolved, says palaeo-biologist Enrique Peñalver from the Geo-Mining Museum. The insect is said to be of a predatory species which were highly specialist hunters, although their claws did not have the complex sensory structure similar insects do today.

Prices Slashed For 16,000 OTC and Prescription Drugs 

Spain’s national health authority has reduced the prices of 16,000 types of medication; over-the-counter, prescription and hospital dispensary drugs, which will save the public around €118.5 million a year. They include OTC drugs such as Ibuprofen and paracetamol, the stomach-protector and proton-pump inhibitor Omeprazole, and prescription medication such as antibiotic Amoxicillin and tranquilliser and sleeping pill Lorazepam. Most of these have dropped to an average of €1-€2, although 20 paracetamol pills of 650mg now only cost 55 cents.

Nearly three-quarters of the cost saved to the health system will be on medicines that come from hospital dispensaries, which are typically stronger, more specialist, produced in much lesser quantities, or very expensive.