Postcard from... Madrid

 

 

The bad news for the economy continued this week when the property company Reyal Urbis declared itself insolvent, becoming the second-biggest Spanish company to do so since the recession began. Now Miss Spain – or strictly speaking, the organising company behind the country’s biggest beauty competition, Certamen Miss España SL – has gone bust.

Racked by 26 per cent unemployment and a seemingly interminable recession, Spain has seen the latest development as a symbol of the country’s wider troubles. It may be frivolous, but the annual competition, first held in 1929, is hugely popular.

Miss Spain already had an uphill fight on its hands after losing national TV coverage in 2008 after 17 years.

Then the 2011 winner, Andrea Huisgen of Catalonia, above, was obliged to use her own contacts to make it to the Miss Universe contest after the Spanish organiser lost the licensing rights to take part.

The competition’s image had been somewhat tarnished after the 2007 Miss Spain, Angela Bustillo from Cantabria, was stripped of her title when it emerged that – against the old-fashioned rules – she was the mother of a three-year-old. The ex-Miss promptly took the company to court on discrimination grounds, finally forcing a rule-change to allow mothers and pregnant women to take part.

The organisers can take some scant comfort from the fact that they are hardly alone in their plight. In 2012 a record 7,988 companies filed for bankruptcy in Spain, up 32 per cent from 2011 and affecting 70,377 employees.

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