Trans-Iberian

Trans-Iberian

Many Britons and other English speakers live in or at least find themselves passing through Spain. Only some actively try to get to know it. We cannot all be Hemingways, but we want to share our impressions in the same language.

Rajoy: mystery or void?

Por: | 18 de octubre de 2012

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The big question, we are incessantly told, is whether Rajoy is going to ask for a second bailout, using the EU’s ethereal rescue mechanisms. But here on the ground in Spain, there are countless questions which no one in the Popular Party (PP) government seems interested in answering.

Let’s start with a small day-to-day issue: How much does it save the government to make civil servants go to the doctor in order to justify one single day’s absence, clogging up yet further the public healthcare system?

Still in the healthcare department: Was the decision to strip illegal immigrants of their health cards, unless they pay into an insurance plan, really taken on economic grounds or was the aim to distract attention?

On education, it is not good enough that the education minister thinks it is amusing to wax semantics, saying this week that it is for “students to improve their performance in order to boost economic growth.” Before answers, in this case, a little humility is required to admit that billions of euros have been slashed from education spending. And that comes with a cost.    

Ok, now to money: What is the next move as regards the serious problem of tax evasion in light of the failure of the “fiscal amnesty” to so far raise more than some tens of millions when the government predicted it would bring in 2.5 billion euros? When and how will the authorities go after the tax dodgers? 

And are the IMF-touted macroeconomic gains of boosting indirect taxation ahead of raising levies on the wealthy worth the pain? We don’t know because the government is not deigning to explain its policies.

Faced by such a storm, it would be nice if we could all row in the same direction, but, to labor the maritime metaphor, Spain’s skipper remains locked in his quarters. Having coasted to power by merely observing the wreckage of the Zapatero administration, Rajoy clearly took a decision to eschew the media spotlight in the hope of avoiding a swift burnout. All well and good. But his government has been forced to dart hither and thither as the deficit-target dictates have commanded. When pressed, on occasion, the prime minister’s pitch is the message that “the right people are in charge now; rest assured, if anything goes wrong, it will not be due to our incompetence.”

It might be populist to yearn to maximize time spent on the podium, but a little verbal populism would surely be welcome at this stage. We might not all swallow the policies, but it would be nice to know where they are meant to be heading. Wait a minute! Damn nice, it is our right to know. On September 10 Rajoy offered his first TV interview since taking office nine months earlier. In his few press conferences, he has rarely taken questions from journalists.

Rajoy is not burning in the spotlight, but the masterplan is by no means taking a crystalline form as the waves of “reforms” (cutbacks) pass by. The draft 2013 state budget (coming close on the heels of the 2012 document which was held back until Easter seemingly with the ultimately frustrated hope of hoisting the PP candidate to power in Andalusia) contains virtually nothing by way of stimulus for the ailing economy, with the exception of a reintroduced car-purchasing subsidy. Business is to sprout by itself; the unemployed disappear – by going abroad or simply falling off the records as their entitlements elapse; growth will return by magic to fecundate fallow land.

Or is no one explaining any plan because there is no plan? Waiting for Rajoy could be the unfunniest political joke ever played.

Photograph by Uly Martín.

Hay 7 Comentarios

He is waiting like a depredator to take the bailout, in the same way they kill IBERIA they will kill Spain. see This link to see the destruction of IBERIA http://ernesto-consultoria.blogspot.com/2012/07/como-destrozaron-viasa.html

Containing "virtually nothing by way of stimulus for the ailing economy," is, of itself, a welcome innovation!
On November 28th, 2008, the front page of El País English edition announced a "stimulus package" to "stem [the] downturn." On page 2, I begged Zapatero to eschew such Keynesian nonsense, which has been completely ineffectual in the past, pointing out that sound money and a balanced budget has been shown to be the only certain way to bring down unemployment (then 11.3 percent) and encourage investment. Far from abating, the clamour for "stimulus" still resounds. Ignoring Santayana's injunction to "learn from history" has already seen it repeated, "first as tragedy," with unemployment more than doubling, and now, it seems, the author would have us brace ourselves for what Marx would call "farce."

I like your point about verbal populism. I seldom enjoy comparing Spain unfavorably to the U.S. but an american president would long since have gone on TV, in prime time, and made his case to the public. An emotional speech. A "here's my reasoning and here's the problem we're in and we've all got to pull together on this" kind of speech. Rajoy's a wet noodle. The only time we ever see him say anything is when he's making some snarky response to criticism.

Excellent article!

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Authors (Bloggers)

Our regular bloggers develop their own themes related with life in Spain and the interaction of Spaniards with the wider world, while guest writers add spice.

Jessica Jones. Hailing from the north east of England, Stockton-on-Tees native Jessica has had a passion for all things Hispanic from an early age. She has lived in and written about France, Chile, Spain and Germany and has been contributing to the Trans-Iberian blog since 2012, when she moved to Madrid after graduating from Durham University.@jessicajones590

Joseph Walker. A graduate of Leeds University, Joseph is a sports journalist based in Madrid, and has written on and covered a wide range of events, from the Champions League to Gibraltar’s first ever UEFA match and Spain’s national rugby team. He writes columns for several websites and will pen his thoughts on the latest goings on in sports-obsessed Spain. You can find him on @joe_in_espana

Ben Cardew is a freelance journalist, translator and teacher, now resident in Barcelona after growing up gracefully in Scotland via Norwich. He writes for The Guardian, the NME and The Quietus, among others, on everything from music to digital media. You can find him on Twitter @bencardew

Jeff Wiseman is an experienced journalist and comedy writer. He was formerly editor of ‘InMadrid’, a monthly English-language newspaper in the Spanish capital, and has contributed scripts and sketches for radio and television in the UK. Published his first book, ‘Shawley Nott: Comic Tales from England’s Strangest Village’, in 2013.

Billy Ehrenberg is an Journalism MA student at City University in London. He lived in Spain for three years, in Granada, Madrid and A Coruña, translating and teaching English. He has written for The Times, The Western Morning News and The Plymouth Herald in the UK and has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2013. He enjoys telling stories with numbers and infographics, data visualisations and general statistical tomfoolery. He tweets from @billyehrenberg

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