Spain. A corruption scandal rolled out at the beginning of the year when the newspaper El País published information on illegal payments to leading members of the Conservative ruling People’s Party (PP). Former party treasurer Luis Bárcenas initially denied the allegations, but later acknowledged the details of donations from businesses and businessmen, secret accounts abroad and extra payments to ministers. He was arrested in June on suspicion of tax fraud and money laundering. According to Countryaah, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was also singled out in the so-called Bárcenas affair, but he denied the allegations and claimed that Bárcenas devoted himself to extortion.
Another corruption scandal involved the king’s son-in-law Iñaki Urdangarin and Princess Cristina. They were suspected of embezzling millions from charitable foundations. In November, a judge ordered assets worth € 6 million to be seized to cover possible damages. It also stormed otherwise around the usually so popular royal family, to the extent that demands were made that King Juan Carlos should abdicate. His popularity had dwindled after a costly elephant hunt in Africa in the midst of the difficult financial crisis at home and the rumors of infidelity.
In April, the European Commission warned that the economic situation in Spain was still very serious. The Commission acknowledged that the risk that the EU would have to step in with direct support had diminished, but the heavy debt burden still posed a serious threat. Unemployment was then above 27% and youth unemployment was 57%. However, the trend then reversed and unemployment fell, albeit marginally. At the end of the year, there were hopes that the country was on its way out of the recession.
A train accident outside the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage site in July claimed 79 lives and injured 15. The train was traveling at twice the speed allowed at the time of the accident.
The protracted dispute over Gibraltar, the rocky island that lies on the southern coast of Spain but controlled by Britain, escalated into an open conflict. Disputes over fishing rights led Gibraltar to lower concrete blocks in the water in July to create an artificial reef and shut out Spanish fishermen. Spain responded by imposing stricter border controls, which led to long queues. Diplomatic developments followed, the EU joined to inspect border control and complaints were made to the UN.
2008 Deep economic crisis
Spain was hit hard by the global economic crisis, which seriously hit in 2008. GDP fell 4% in 2009 and unemployment rose dramatically. Alone, from 17.4% in March 2009 to 19.1% in March 2010. Youth unemployment was at 41.2%. These levels are almost twice the EU average and worst among the “old” EU states.
The seriousness of the crisis was due in many other countries to the development of a housing bubble and private luxury consumption. On the other hand, house prices exploded, which led to extra time in the construction of new homes. In 2002-07, about ½ million was built annually. new housing. In 2010, 28% of them were empty. Construction reached 17% of GDP before it collapsed. In part, the explosion in housing prices led to increased private borrowing and luxury consumption. The average borrowing per person reached 125% of the average income. The collapse of the economy meant that many Spanish families now have serious problems paying interest and repayments on their large debts.
The crisis, on the other hand, did not affect banks and the state to the same extent. For the banks, because the Spanish banking sector was significantly better regulated than in most other European countries. They had not, therefore, embarked on the same speculative investments as, for example. in Iceland or Denmark. Nor was the state immediately hit hard because state borrowing was limited. This, on the other hand, is increasing as the Spanish state in 2009 sought to curb the development of the crisis by pumping more state funds into the social economy. The government deficit in 2009 was therefore 11.4% of GDP. However, the crisis in Greece in the spring of 2010, when the Greek state was going bankrupt and sent the euro for census on the global foreign exchange market, also broke through in Spain. The Spanish government decided to aim to halve the government deficit and therefore launched a crisis package in June 2010, which will save 15 billion. € in the state budget:
- Public wages will be cut by 5% from June
- Stop for wage increases for 2 years
- 13,000 jobs within the public sector are cut away
- The automatic regulation of pensions is put into effect
- A special child allowance for new parents is suspended
- The retirement age must be increased from 65 to 67 years
- Companies only have to pay salaries to their employees for 20 days when the company is in financial difficulties. So it becomes cheaper to fire workers. The period was previously 45 days for all companies
- Agreements must be able to be changed outside the unions if the company is in financial difficulties
2.2 million the Spaniards demonstrated against the crisis package on June 8 and the major national organizations CCOO and UGT have called for a general strike on September 29. On the same day that the trade union movement in the rest of Europe demonstrates against the national cuts.
Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos visited Gibraltar in July 2009. The first Spanish ministerial visit to the British colony in 300 years.
In September 2010, ETA declares ceasefire. The move is being rejected by the Spanish government declaring that political negotiations with the Basque separatist movement cannot be negotiated until it has withdrawn from violence and been disarmed.
Zapatero announced in April 2011 that he would not run for Prime Minister for a new term. This was partly a consequence of the party’s low score in the polls, and partly because of widespread dissatisfaction within the party after he started civilian crisis policy in June 2010. On June 11, PSOE elected Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba as new chairman.
On May 15, 2011, the youth, the poor and unemployed took the Puerta del Sol square in Madrid. Already in the previous months, the movement Democracia real Ya had demonstrated throughout Spain. With the M-15 or Indignados movement, they launched a protracted protest against the Spanish state’s cutbacks, unemployment and the exclusion of an entire generation of Spanish society. A year later, $ 6-8 million had. Spaniards participated in the protests across the country. The government had initially tried to ban the demonstrations, but subsequently chose to ignore them.
The November 2011 parliamentary elections were a disaster for the ruling Social Democracy, losing 15.1% of the vote and falling from 43.9 to 28.8%. In contrast, the fascist PP went up 4.7% to 44.6%. Because of the electoral system, PP got an absolute majority in the Chamber of Deputies with 186 out of 350 seats. New Prime Minister became PP Chairman Mariano Rajoy. The left wing at IU nearly doubled, rising 3.1% to 6.9%.
In his resignation as prime minister in December, Rajoy declared that the public sector would be drastically cut to meet the EU’s government deficit reduction requirements. The exception was police and security forces that would be increased in line with the country’s transformation from welfare state to police state.