• Tue. Jun 6th, 2023

A divided and impoverished Spain

ByNuala Hafner

Nov 26, 2022

We head to Spain in “European Micro”, with Juan Jose Durado, Spanish correspondent in Paris. The country will have almost 13% unemployment by the end of the year, for a population of 47 million. Inflation is severe and food prices in particular are rising steadily.

Spain is more divided and impoverished than ever. Today, Micro European deciphers the economic situation in Spain, with José-Manuel Lamarque and his guest, Juan Jose Durado, Spanish correspondent in Paris.

franceinfo: The Spanish economy is not at its best, inflation is soaring and prices are exploding.

Juan Jose Durado: Prices are exploding. In fact, food prices in Spain have risen even more in recent months, by just over 2.3% compared to last month. This means that over the last year, food prices have risen by more than 15%.

This has an impact on families, it forces mothers and fathers, when they go to the supermarket, not to take the brand of pasta that they used to take every day, but to take the first prices, because they see that at the end of the month, they can’t afford it. The reality is that people are finding it hard to fill their fridges because food prices have gone up.

Then there were the droughts. Of course, the prices of basic necessities have gone up. But it’s true that today, in terms of prices, Spain is not very well served. And there is inflation. For the month of October, inflation is at 7.3, more or less. In July, it was at 10.8. So things are not going so well, even if sometimes you can always find a country where things are worse.

Yes, and even if with Portugal, you managed to save the energy market by putting safeguards in place in Brussels?

It’s true that since June, electricity for Spaniards is cheaper than for other countries, and there are reasons for this. First of all, because Spain and Portugal are really like energy islands: we are not interconnected with the rest of Europe.

As usual, Iberia in the whole story?

So I think we were at 3.5 percent of interconnections with Europe, because the electricity that is produced in Spain and Portugal is 70% renewable. Wind, sun and water. So we don’t import Russian gas into Spain and Portugal. No, basically, we import liquid gas. Moreover, Spain and Portugal are the two countries that have the most infrastructure to recondition this type of gas.

So we pay less for electricity. But the Spaniards have to be careful when they turn on or off the washing machine, in the morning, in the afternoon or rather in the evening, and the same goes for the dishwasher, you have to be careful with everything today in Spain.

And unemployment?

You know, Spain is a country that will end the year with about 13% unemployment. You compare that with France, which is around 7%, so it’s practically half as high as Spain. With a smaller population. Because we have as much unemployment as France, that is to say 3 million. There are 3 million unemployed in Spain for 47 million inhabitants. We have the same number of unemployed as in France, but 20 million fewer inhabitants. You can understand that in Spain we like the sun, we like to party. But these days, it’s quite complicated to do so.

Is it because it’s so complicated that the Spanish political situation is becoming more and more complicated?

The Spanish political situation is becoming more and more complicated because there is a deeper and deeper divide between a so-called right-wing Spain and a left-wing Spain. In a few months, there will be elections in Spain, in 2023, in May, municipal and regional elections, and then at the end of the year, you will have legislative elections. This leads to parties, especially on the left, parties that are in coalition in government and that have started to mark differences between themselves, even within the government, precisely so as not to lose voters before the next elections.

But the Spanish right is also very divided between the conservative right of the People’s Party, embodied at the time by Mariano Rajoy, and today by Mr Feijóo. And the extreme Spanish right of the Vox, with Santiago Abascal, which is also in the process of restructuring.

Which also explains the resurgence of the Spanish Republicans?

There is a resurgence of Spanish republicans because you have a party that is totally republican and that is in government. It is Unidos Podemos, the branch whose leader was Pablo Iglesias. And this party, of course, insists a lot on this republican aspect. The reality is that you have, on the other side, a Socialist Party too. A government that has renounced the Republic, since the time of Felipe Gonzalez, in order to accommodate a regime that is a constitutional monarchy, like the English or the Belgians.