A Country on a Tightrope: The Economic Crisis and the End of an Era in Spanish Politics

By Garcia, Oscar J. Martin | Insight Turkey, Summer 2013 | Go to article overview

A Country on a Tightrope: The Economic Crisis and the End of an Era in Spanish Politics


Garcia, Oscar J. Martin, Insight Turkey


After the years Spain's Transition to democracy in the late 1970s, this country is standing at its second major historical crossroads in less than half a century. Following a period of incredible prosperity between 1991 and 2007, the country is currently experiencing the worst economic situation since the "hunger years" following the Civil War in the late 1930s. What is more, the political system's inability to correct flaws in the market has increased Spanish citizens mistrust in their democracy.

Three factors explain the interrelation between the economic and political crisis currently plaguing Spain. First, an increasing number of citizens believe that neither the economy is under control nor is Spanish democracy. Second, the negative distributive effects of austerity policies have deepened social inequality and destroyed the social consensus on which the Transition to democracy was based. Third, the economic measures adopted to curtail the impoverishment of the middle and lower classes have been totally ineffective. However, such measures are still in place despite popular rejection, prolonging the negative effects on employment, welfare, social protection, and other essential social issues.

Crisis, Unemployment, and Inequality

The Spanish economy, once one of Europe's healthiest, went into a tailspin in 2008, as the international financial crisis contributed to the collapse of its key construction sector. After the housing bubble "burst, the main consequences have been: 1) the shrinkage of the fourth-biggest Eurozone economy, whose GDP fell by 16% between 2007 and 2012, and 2) the unstoppable increase of the country's unemployment rate. According to the National Statistics Institute (NSI), at the end of 2012 the unemployment rate exceeded 25% for the first time in Spain's history. Yet, the elimination of jobs has not ceased since then. Unemployment hit 27.2% during the first quarter of 2013. Today, there are around 6.2 million unemployed, a number which, according to The Guardian, brings to mind the figures reached by "the near-feudal agrarian state the country used to be" during the darkest years of the Franco regime. (1)

In mid 2007, Spain reached its highest ever employment levels thanks to the "building boom." They were happy years during which the country created some 750,000 jobs per year and the "Spanish miracle" even became a model of economic success for the rest of the EU. Since then, however, over 3.2 million workers have lost their jobs. Between 2007 and 2013, unemployment in Spain increased by over 19 percentage points, while a series of harsh labour reforms and cutbacks in social spending have done nothing to reverse the situation. Furthermore, since Spain climbed on the bandwagon of austerity in May 2010, over 1.5 millions Spaniards have lost their jobs. These official figures mean Spain's jobless rate is twice the European Union average. In February 2013, Eurostat recorded the highest unemployment rates among EU-27 members in Greece (26.4%) and Spain (26.3%). The high number of young people without a job is particularly worrying. The rate of 16-24 year old Spaniards without work has jumped to just over 57%, the highest level, together with Greece, in the industrialised world. (2)

This "lost generation," the best educated yet least hopeful since the advent of democracy in Spain, will have little choice but to leave the country to find work. But this is just one single example of the social drama caused by the neoliberal measures encouraged by Brussels. Despite promises from national and European leaders that reducing deficits would spur growth, the massive spending cuts are leaving thousands of Spaniards on the brink of exclusion. Among them, there are 2.2 million children living in poverty according to organisations such as UNICEF, Save the Children, and the Red Cross. It is a disturbing reality, which could potentially have dramatic consequences in the not-too-distant future.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Country on a Tightrope: The Economic Crisis and the End of an Era in Spanish Politics
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.