Previous posts in this discussion:
PostThe Case Against Pedro Sanchez (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela, 02/19/22 7:00 am)
In response to José Manuel de Prada's defense of Pedro Sánchez (February 17th), I'd like to make some additional comments.
First of all, it seems unconvincing to exculpate the repeated deceptions and lies of a democratic leader, comparing him with others supposedly less intelligent or who have lied as much or more in their political careers. Whether Sánchez is a worse or better president than others, lying a little or a lot, a brilliant person or not, this should not be an excuse for repeatedly deceiving the voter, period. That is precisely what Pedro Sánchez has done in Spain, and that should be enough to pay a high political cost, or at least to cast doubt on his credibility and moral authority.
Now, to be more precise, justifying Sánchez's lies by blaming other political opponents for blocking his election as president is also unconvincing. Repeating the elections would have been the most consistent with his own electoral declarations and promises, and I do not accept José Manuel's assertion that the democratic cost would have been very high. In any case, Sánchez's coalition with the far-left parties is only justified by his own ambition for power and lack of scruples, not by the supposed damage to democracy that another election may have caused.
In another comment, José Manuel said, "the conservatives in Spain simply do not recognize the legitimacy of their political adversaries, a situation which can only lead to toxic politics and a weakening of democracy." It is evident that reciprocally the "progressive" leftists don't give much credibility to their opponents either. They repeatedly delegitimize their leaders, their supporters, their proposals and propositions, and their ideology by calling them "fascists." That is a terrible way of doing politics. It contaminates democracy and is not exclusive to the conservative parties, at least not in Spain.
Regarding the approval of the Labor Law and the "error" that allowed it to be approved, it seems to me that José Manuel's comment is not entirely precise. Regardless of whether the reform was good or bad for the workers, it is not completely true that congressional policy does not allow errors in voting to be corrected. Rather, the president of the Congress ignored attempts to correct the mistake. In fact, in the first instance, she declared that the law had been rejected, precisely because they warned her of the error. It wasn't until she decided to ignore it and correct the announcement that she declared the approval, in an act of blatant manipulation.
In this context, José Manuel accuses the leader of the opposition of having "bought" two deputies who initially and due to partisan discipline should have voted in favor, but who finally voted against. This risky accusation, if it were true, should have provoked political and criminal reactions, but they did not occur. It is my opinion that the accusation seems to be a mere speculation by some journalists without proof or evidence.
With regard to pardoning Catalan nationalist politicians, José Manuel seems to attribute to this fact the relative "tranquility" achieved in Catalonia after releasing them from prison. It may be partially true, but according to other reliable journalistic sources, the consequent decline of the movement, the "breathable atmosphere" in Catalonia, has been caused rather by the lies and deceit that the population perceives in the independentist political parties, and not because the convicted politicians have been freed. Furthermore, this fact may have created a dangerous and risky precedent that could be used in the future to exculpate other events of illegal secession.
Regarding Sánchez's performance in the pandemic, once again it seems that Sánchez is exonerated of the casualties of the pandemic which could have been avoided, if he had acted more effectively and without lying to the population. Comparing his record with other European countries that were equally or more negligent is again very futile.
Finally, to affirm that the Sánchez government is functional and efficient seems likely unrealistic to me. For example, it will be remembered that he promised to reduce bureaucracy and the number of public employees, ministries and government advisers. Instead he increased the ministers from 13 to 22, and the number of public employees by more than two hundred thousand, the highest in Spanish history. He also promised to reduce the public debt, but it has been increased in the last two years to almost 125% of the GDP. Furthermore, despite the worldwide growth of inflation, in Spain the rate is the highest in the EU.
I could continue citing other examples of the Sánchez government's incompetence but I would rather stop here.
JE comments: There's never been a bureaucrat who didn't love administrative bloat, but how can Sánchez justify nine new ministries at a time that calls for belt-tightening? And each minister requires lavish perks and a full retinue of acolytes. What are the new ministries...of?
WAIS, I'm proud to say, has always been averse to bloat. We carry on with three employees, all of them part-time.
Another topic. What is the macroeconomic explanation for Spain having a higher inflation rate than other eurozone nations? As I understand it, the individual EU nations cannot manipulate their currency without the approval of all. Does Spain's rate have to do with geography-specific factors, such as housing? I hope someone can provide an explanation for the layperson.
Explaining Spain's Inflation
(José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela
02/20/22 10:38 AM)
John E I asked in my last post why inflation is so high in Spain, compared to other countries in the eurozone. Before the opinions of the expert economists of the Forum arrive, I dare to offer my thoughts.
Inflation in Spain closed the 2021 with an increase of 6.7%. In Germany it was 5.3%, in Italy 4.2% and in France 2.8%, to cite a few examples. The reason, according to experts, is due to the increase in the cost of energy (electricity, gas, diesel, gasoline, etc.) that has a great impact on industry (production and transport). Indeed, the cost of energy in Spain is one of the highest in the EU and there are also no expectations that it will decrease, despite the lies of the president who promised last December that it would drop to the level of two years ago.
The reason behind this lack of capacity to resolve this issue is surely because Spain sets energy prices differently from other countries and the most important marker of these prices is gas, which has risen significantly in recent months. It will likely rise even more due to the conflict in Ukraine.
Of course there are other macro and micro economic factors, among them the relatively low productivity of some industrial sectors, goods and services, where the poor economic investment and labor policies of the government have had a significant impact. However, not everything is the responsibility of the government, especially tourism, which before the pandemic had represented almost 13% of GDP. In 2021 it was reduced by almost 60%, and this must have had a significant impact on employment and consumption. Surely all this contributes to reducing the competitiveness of Spanish companies and industries, while in other countries they have been better prepared to combat this economic phenomenon.
JE comments: One would think the decline in tourism would pull prices downward, with fewer tourist euros entering the economy. From the chart below, only Belgium has a higher inflation rate than Spain in Western Europe, although the East has all the West beat--even Estonia and Lithuania, which have adopted the euro.
Inflation Rate - Countries - List | Europe (tradingeconomics.com)
Possibly Ángel Viñas could give us a snapshot of the consumer mindset in Belgium?
- In Spanish Politics, the PP is the Obstructionist Party (Jose Manuel de Prada, -Spain 02/22/22 9:16 AM)
As I said in my initial post on this subject, I am no enthusiast of Pedro Sánchez, although I voted for the Socialists in the 2019 elections, choosing them as the less bad option.
I do not try to exculpate him by referring to the dumbness, mendacity or mediocrity of his opponents on the right. I simply point out the sad aspect of current Spanish politics.
I don't like the coalition with Podemos, or the pardons to the pro-independence leaders in Catalonia, but it is clear to me that Sánchez acted in both cases out of a justified sense of realpolitik.
Given the obstructionist strategy of the opposition PP, a third round of elections would have been inevitable, had Sánchez not opted for the coalition, and that would have very bad for democracy in Spain at a moment when the neo-Falangists of Vox are on the rise. Those guys are extremely dangerous.
Just to deal with two more points raised by José Ignacio:
1. I think it is at present the PP who is engaging in the delegitimizing game, blocking the renewal of important institutions such the as the Constitutional Court, or trying to have the European Union block the Covid aid to Spain. They have been into this game ever since the times of Aznar.
2. The change in vote of the UPN deputies is suspicious in the extreme. I think we haven't heard the last of this, and the courts may yet intervene. But the case of Murcia proves that the PP would do anything to get his way and sabotage a Socialist government. Again, they have been into this game ever since the times of Aznar.
Regarding Consoly León Arias's statement that Sánchez "illegally confined us in our homes, during the second state of alarm. In the meantime, the executive branch was gaining great power over the citizens as a whole, and delegated its responsibilities, hiding behind the autonomous regions, to continue a modus operandi based on manipulation, until the Constitutional Court declared the farce unconstitutional," this reminds me of the kind of rhetoric from people like De Santis and other US conservatives who oppose any measure to control Covid out of base political interest. I don't see the gaining of power over the citizens or the manipulation Consoly mentions.
The decision by the Constitutional Court, dominated by conservatives thanks to the obstructionism of the PP, was rightly criticized. The court actually declared both lockdowns illegal. I think in both cases the lockdowns were justified and contributed to saving thousands of lives.
To conclude: Pedro Sánchez is a highly flawed leader, yet he won the elections, no matter if Casado and his minions don't like it. The PP may be an better alternative if in more capable hands than his, yet as I we exchange these posts the party is imploding in a crisis. It is a crisis of Casado's own making, by the way.
JE comments: I've been checking a lot of national rankings lately, and here's an interesting one: Spain's Covid death count is eighth in Europe, but it is sixth in population. By this grim metric, Spain has "outperformed" at least two other nations in the pandemic response (specifically, Ukraine and Poland).
José Manuel, when time permits, could you give us an intro-level overview on what is going on in Spain's Partido Popular?
- In Spanish Politics, the PP is the Obstructionist Party (Jose Manuel de Prada, -Spain 02/22/22 9:16 AM)