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Defunct Adelaide newspaper used to skirt Spanish electoral laws

An Adelaide newspaper shut down in 2020 is being used by its European owner to get around strict electoral laws ahead of the imminent Spanish general election.

Jul 21, 2023, updated Jul 21, 2023
Spanish polling data on The Adelaide Review's website, published by Barcelona newspaper El Periodico.

Spanish polling data on The Adelaide Review's website, published by Barcelona newspaper El Periodico.

The Adelaide Review, owned by Barcelona businessman and newspaper publisher Javier Moll, published its final edition in October 2020, but its online pages have taken on a new use for its Spanish stablemates.

Spanish electoral laws ban the publishing of opinion polls within five days of elections.

However, with the Spanish general election to be held on July 23, the Barcelona newspaper El Periódico is linking to hidden pages on The Adelaide Review website to point readers to its latest polling.

It’s the second time this year that the daily newspaper has used The Adelaide Review’s pages to circumvent the prohibition. In May, it published polling on municipal elections inside the prohibited window.

El Periódico is part of the stable of Prensa Ibérica, a publishing company owned by Moll.

The Spaniard bought The Adelaide Review two decades ago and he still owns South Australian commercial property assets through his local company, Global Intertrade.

He first came to Adelaide in the early 1990s, where he connected with multilingual Premier Lynn Arnold. Moll became enamoured with South Australia and has since built a portfolio of commercial interests.

There were many reports that he planned to create a new newspaper for South Australia but he eventually bought an existing title, The Adelaide Review, which had been published since 1984 and came to prominence under the pugnacious editorship of Christopher Pearson.

Moll’s local office has not returned calls from InDaily but El Periódico is open about why it is using the Adelaide website to sidestep Spain’s prohibitive electoral laws.

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In a story published this week linking to 24-hour poll tracking data in The Adelaide Review, and translated by InDaily using an app, the newspaper says the “absurd veto” favours the “elites” particularly political parties who are still able to continue their own polling and make decisions based on what it says.

“In other words, the parties, financed with public money, can have polls until the last day, but citizens are prohibited from learning about them through the media,” the newspaper says.

“This paradoxical situation is the sole responsibility of the political parties with representation in Congress when the electoral law was reformed in 2011 and they gave up adapting it to the new digital reality, maintaining the veto to publish and disseminate electoral polls from five days before the elections. Likewise, the inability of the Catalan parties to agree on their own electoral law in four decades has contributed to perpetuating this absurd veto.

“However, both the parties and companies commission these ‘trackings’ to find out the trends of the last week of the campaign, trends that can be decisive in tipping the balance at the polls.

“With the daily survey of ‘The Adelaide Review’ this situation is corrected and citizens have access to the same information that the elites manage.”

This method of getting around the electoral laws has been used for years by El Periódico, but in the past, they used a website in the tiny land-locked principality of Andorra, located between Spain and France in the Pyrenees.

The July 23 general election is expected to see a political swing to the right, with Reuters reporting this week that the conservative People’s Party is tracking ahead of the ruling Socialists but likely to need the support of far-right Vox to govern.

El Periódico’s latest polling, published on The Adelaide Review website, shows “the right-wing bloc has fallen slightly in the last 24 hours, although it maintains its comfortable advantage over a left-wing bloc that shows signs of recovery”.

The polling shows the People’s Party and Vox together “in a range of 165-173 seats, below the 176 they grant the absolute majority”.

The Adelaide Review’s homepage gives no clue about the Spanish data contained within. It’s still displaying content from the final edition in 2020.

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