“Spain is part of this Euro­pean trend – and it’s not just be­cause of Ra­joy’s fall from grace or Cat­alo­nia’s iras­ci­bil­ity. It is part of a larger degra­da­tion of what has been un­til now Spain’s pre­dom­i­nantly two-party po­lit­i­cal sys­tem”

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

That fear turned out to be mis­placed. Over the past three years, gross do­mes­tic prod­uct growth has av­er­aged over 3%. Un­em­ploy­ment has dropped to 17% and is pro­jected to fall be­low 14% next year. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion re­ported that wage growth in Spain is ex­pected to rise faster than in­fla­tion in 2019 – so not only are more peo­ple find­ing jobs, but they are get­ting paid more as well. The gov­ern­ment suc­ceeded in pulling Spain back from the brink, and ac­cord­ing to the Bank of Spain, it cost the coun­try it­self only 26.3 bln eu­ros – not a bad deal con­sid­er­ing that its econ­omy is the fourth-largest in Europe and only slightly smaller than Rus­sia’s.

Yet, de­spite Spain’s much im­proved eco­nomic po­si­tion, Span­ish pol­i­tics are more un­sta­ble now than they have been in decades. With a gov­ern­ment plagued by a cor­rup­tion scan­dal for years, Mar­i­ano Ra­joy, who had served as prime min­is­ter since 2011, was ousted in a no-con­fi­dence vote last week – the first Span­ish head of state to have lost such a vote since the 1978 con­sti­tu­tion was adopted. Ra­joy will be re­placed by Pe­dro Sanchez, head of the So­cial­ist Party, which holds only 84 of 350 seats in par­lia­ment and has al­ready promised to call early elec­tions. Spain now joins Italy, France, Ger­many and the United King­dom as the lat­est Euro­pean coun­try with an ex­tremely weak gov­ern­ment.

This isn’t the way things are sup­posed to work. Eco­nomic re­cov­er­ies don’t usu­ally re­sult in po­lit­i­cal up­heavals. But that is in­deed what has hap­pened in Spain. In ad­di­tion to the prime min­is­ter’s oust­ing, the is­sue of Cata­lan in­de­pen­dence re­mains Ra­joy’s heavy-handed ap­proach to Cat­alo­nia ap­par­ently hasn’t dented its de­sire for sovereignty. Dur­ing his swear­ing-in cer­e­mony, Torra com­mit­ted to cre­at­ing an in­de­pen­dent Cata­lan repub­lic.

A sim­i­lar sce­nario has played out across Europe. All head­line eco­nomic statistics through­out the EU are trend­ing up­ward, ex­ceed­ing even the most op­ti­mistic pro­jec­tions of a few years ago. But the coali­tion to lead the new gov­ern­ment. And in France, if the Na­tional Front had a leader with a sur­name other than “Le Pen,” it may well have pre­vailed in last year’s elec­tions.

Spain is part of this Euro­pean trend – and it’s not just be­cause of Ra­joy’s fall from grace or Cat­alo­nia’s iras­ci­bil­ity. It is part of a larger degra­da­tion of what has been un­til now Spain’s pre­dom­i­nantly two-party po­lit­i­cal sys­tem. A re­cent poll by Span­ish news­pa­per El Pais showed that if elec­tions were held to­day, the top two vote-get­ters would be anti-es­tab­lish­ment par­ties: Ci­u­dadanos (29.1%) and an elec­toral al­liance led by

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Cyprus

© PressReader. All rights reserved.