How to organise a charade for Seville to host the Spanish Space Agency

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The K Factor, i.e. they do what they want, was once again imposed on the Council of Ministers on 5 December chaired by Pedro Sánchez. But not because it was necessary to elucidate a quarrel between ministers, but because what had to be agreed had been tied up and well tied up for many months. 

Seville, right, of course, what else could it be! The Minister of Finance and Public Function responded with a smile to the insinuation of her cabinet colleague. She, Maria Jesús Montero, Marisu for her friends and party acquaintances, had already publicly shown her support for Seville as the location for the headquarters of the Spanish Space Agency in mid-March. How could she have let it slip? No, no, no!

It was during a breakfast at the Alfonso XIII Hotel in Seville. They were talking about "2022: Spanish Government policies for citizenship", and one of the attendees asked her if she supported Seville's candidacy. She replied, with her usual self-confidence, "Of course, of course!


But she received a wake-up call from the president, who told her that she looked prettier "shut up". Since then she has made strenuous efforts to keep her mouth shut. Now the matter has been resolved. Madrid is left without a space agency "como está mandao" and the rest of the towns and cities that have been used as a comparsa are left with their noses to the grindstone. 

So, what was expected has happened. The date for resolving the issue had been conscientiously chosen by the Battalion of Advisors of the Moncloa Palace - the BATAPLOF - and the fearsome strategic plumbers of Calle Ferraz: Monday, 5 December. The Council of Ministers has considered that "Seville is the most suitable candidacy for the operational needs of the Agency", and here peace and glory.

Seville's special colour

It matters little that the sometimes fractious president of Aragon has stated that with the appointment of Seville "the policy against depopulation is discredited". In Ferraz they are laughing because, in the blink of an eye, as on many other occasions, Javier Lambán will be back in the fold.

Announcing the unappealable decision after the Council of Ministers on 5 December, the following morning, in Congress, during the Constitution Day celebrations, María Jesús Montero will have had the opportunity to give a thousand and one kisses, hugs and congratulations to the socialist deputies and senators who are laughing at her. Now it is official. "Seville has a special colour", as Los del Río sing.

So it is that the headquarters of the Spanish Space Agency (ESA) is going to a great capital, the fourth largest city in Spain by number of inhabitants - with a population of close to 700,000 people -, the largest and richest of the 21 cities that, innocent as they are, have competed as mere accompaniment to the Sevillian candidacy.


The Andalusian capital's proposal is well constructed, technically and logistically sound and deserves the big prize. Its remarkable land infrastructures and air links, its surroundings, its wide range of hotels, its dynamism, the charm of its people and even Juanma Moreno's Junta de Andalucía have all played in its favour. It was undoubtedly the best of all the candidates. Seville learned from its failure in October 2021 to host the 75th edition of the International Astronautical Congress in 2024, in which Milan came out on top. 

But its main assets to win the competition have been others. The process was flawed from the start and the councillor of the Seville municipal corporation, Antonio Muñoz, played with marked cards. The city's main strengths were three and none of them were in the documents submitted in due time and form to the Interministerial Consultative Commission, which assessed the proposals.

Keeping the mayor's office and fighting the battle in the regional elections

The first, to have a PSOE mayor with the full support of the Ferraz apparatus, to revalidate his candidacy and win the mayoralty of Seville in the municipal elections in May. Secondly, to have the unconditional backing of the Minister of Finance; and thirdly and fundamentally, to enjoy the approval of the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, and his magic wand: the K Factor. 

So what about the discourse against a hollowed-out Spain? Government ministers and their acolytes have been preaching left, right and centre that the deconcentration of newly created state public bodies was a measure to favour "greater social and territorial cohesion", to "strengthen the role of the public sector as the backbone of the territory", to contribute to "promoting equal opportunities" and to "help stop the depopulation of empty Spain". And it turns out that a large city is chosen at the opposite end of the spectrum from the emptying of Spain.


But what is worse, the perverse selection system that has been put in place has led to a gratuitous confrontation between the twenty or so candidate towns, at the same time as it has fed and played with the hopes of their inhabitants, who have been left frustrated and disappointed. It matters little to the BATAPLOF, which only counts potential votes for the next elections. The losers add up to few councillors and deputies.

But it is worth returning to the origin of the matter. The whole orchestral manoeuvre around the choice of the Agency's headquarters is based on the hegemonic Socialist Party's fear of suffering new defeats in the municipal and regional elections, such as those it has recently received in Andalusia and Castilla-León, but especially because of its debacle in Madrid.


It all began with the resounding victory of the Partido Popular over the PSOE in the May 2021 elections to the Madrid City Council and the Madrid Autonomous Community. The government, frightened by the magnitude of its electoral collapse, activated in October of that year a plan to, according to its spokespersons, "decentralise the Administration". 

The choice of ESA's headquarters has followed a path that from minute one it was decided that Seville would be the designated city. The little ball was hidden in one of the dice cups that expert tricksters moved day in and day out. In short, a real charade that could have gone wrong if the president of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, Pere Aragonés, had opted for Barcelona, which did not happen. Only in a very, very lukewarm way for Hospitalet de Llobregat. It should be remembered that the Catalan Space Agency already exists in Barcelona. Congratulations Seville!