The International Writers Magazine: The Political Future of Spain
The Eye of the Hurricane - Spain Autumn 2015
It’s not easy to compose a monthly report on one of the member states of the European Union when the horrors of war begin to spill over into the continent. The recent massive influx of a combination of emigrants and refugees fleeing from such a complex mixture of conflicts that range from as far as Afghanistan to the shores of Libya overshadow any petty political or economic local woes such as those that are going on in Spain. Nevertheless, this country has had for years, that have ceased to be reported in the press, its own share of fleeing humans searching for a better and safer life. For some time the provinces of Ceuta and Melilla on the African continent that border with Morocco and Algiers have been subjected to thousands of Africans, mainly from sub-Sahara trying to cross the border into Spain. Barbed wire fences and hundreds of Civil Guards trying to prevent the overflow have ceased to be news although the battle still goes on.
As usual, August is summer holiday time including for politicians. Parliament shuts down, all big wigs take to their respective hometowns and for a short period of time enjoy the company of friends and family. The media tend to show us photos of our President jogging in the beautiful wooded lanes of Galicia, where I live or Sr. Pedro Sanchez, leader of the Socialists basking in the sun with his family on the beach down south in the town of Chiclana near Cadiz, Andalucía. Even our controversial mayoress of Madrid, Ms. Manuela Carmena has taken time off for a week’s holiday plus another week visiting Buenos Aires to promote her book on left wing ‘thoughts’. She had a great time being interviewed by Mrs. Kirchner, President of Argentina whilst Madrid just carried on as if there had never been any municipal elections.
Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund have issued their yearly report on Spain forecasting economic growth for the next two years, yet urging the government to continue with its reforms especially in the labor market sector to reduce the unemployment by 2020 to 16% from the present 22%. The Economist magazine, and the Financial Times have both echoed an economic recovery and more or less confirm the IMF’s forecasting. However, this sort of news does not appear to be recognized by the entire left wing opposition nor the lower levels of income earners who continue to see poverty on every street corner. Not at all surprised as more than half the younger generation continue to suffer from lack of employment and is solely dependent on parents or grandparents for a living.
However, there is one important political event that took place just before the end of the month and that was the approval by the majority ruling government (PP) for the 2016 national budget. President Mariano Rajoy has pushed through a brave new set of investment programs as well as a reduction in tax to bolster his economic policies. His only rejection of the IMF recommendations is a refusal to increase the mid-level VAT of 10% to 21%. A wise move as the increase would have caused a loss or many middle class voters whose business sectors would have been seriously affected. Nevertheless, and as was to be expected, all the left wing factions of the opposition deplored the proposal. After all, if you are going to divide the country's ‘pie’, i.e. taxpayers money, between 17 autonomous regions and 8000 town councils you are bound to have a ‘what’s in it for me’ reaction from all corners of the country.
The tenth anniversary of the Katrina hurricane that nearly obliterated the city of New Orleans was remembered a few days ago. The satellite pictures of the ‘eye’ hovering over the city shown once again on US television must have sent a shiver down most Americans, and especially those of the state of Louisiana that suffered the aftermath of the tragedy. Without wishing to enter into the comparison game, any scenario of trouble that involves a sort of ‘calm before the storm’ can be related to the feeling of being in the center of a hurricane waiting for the fury of high speed winds to hit as the storm moves away. This is precisely the case of the Spanish political arena at this moment in time.
The May regional and local town council elections have barely ended and all kinds of crazy events have been taking place thanks to a complete change in ‘management’ that has fallen into the hands, in many cases of irresponsible politicians. In other words, they haven’t a clue how to handle the day to day running of their respective patches. Nevertheless, life goes on as we are still, as mentioned earlier in holiday time. The real issue though, is the future. The following is a brief prediction of events and how I personally see what may possible happen during the next few months for the future of Spain and the European Union.
The Catalan regional elections in accordance with the Spanish Constitution.
This is the most immediate and important event that will take place on the 27th of September to elect a new government. It is within the law of the country. However the independence movement that has been brewing for the past decade has turned it into a sort of plebiscite for the future independence of the region. My prediction is that the elections will go through but nothing else will happen. Whether the Catalans vote to remain as part of Spain will be irrelevant. The present government will ignore it. It’s that simple.
General elections towards the end of the year.
The date has been set for just before Christmas. President Mariano Rajoy will embark on a ‘wait and see’ policy as the economy continues to flourish. Events in Greece have placed a damper on the radical left wingers of ‘Podemos’ (We Can) whilst the Socialists are still trying to find an alternative solution. They may eventually team up with the radicals.
The silent majority of voters will come out of the woodwork in December, assess the situation and will, depending on the progress of the economy opt for a coalition government of Centre (Ciudadanos) and Centre Right (PP) to continue for the next four years to resolve Spain’s deep routed problems. The way things stand at the moment it would be the best result for the future of the European Union and its place in the international arena.
I forgot to mention; tourism has hit record highs once again thanks to the conflicts around the world. Nevertheless, the threat of Islamic terrorism is present. Just ask the Spanish Central Intelligence Agency that continue to uncover Jihad cells on a monthly basis. I’ll leave it there.
See you next month with the Catalan results.
© James G. Skinner. September 2015
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ISBN: 978-1784624590 .
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