Articles by Fernando Gonzalez Urbaneja

About the Author

Fernando Gonzalez Urbaneja
Over 30 years working in economic journalism. Fernando was founder and chief-editor at El País, general editor at the business daily Cinco Días, and now teaches at Universidad Carlos III. He's been president of the Madrid Press Association and the Spanish Federation of Press Associations. He's also member of the Spanish press complaints commission.

Spain Needs A Big Modernisation Operation To Gain Productivity

Fernando G. Urbaneja | Before the pandemic, the Spanish economy showed signs of weakness and exhaustion, which are now considered as pronounced. Spain needs a major modernisation operation to gain productivity, to generate stable employment and add value. And this is not being talked about much. Many decrees but no script, no basic project, no fine print. European funds are important, but knowing how to avoid wasting them, is even more important. 


A Notch or a Hole

Fernando G. Urbaneja | Economies around the world, and in Europe in particular, have been improving for less than a year, the recovery after the Great Recession peaked, to weaker growth times, including some local recessions (for example in Italy). The causes were known and repeated: trade war, Brexit, insufficient and confused fiscal policies, geopolitical uncertainties. But the “black swan” was missing, the unforeseen that becomes a necessary excuse, the scapegoat, for a trend change and even an end of cycle.


Spain: Can Pedro Sanchez lead a consistent government?

Fernando G. Urbaneja | Critics warn that the first Spanish coalition government will be a weak and incoherent one. That can be an advantage. Some call it a radical government of “communists” who come to resurrect ghosts of the past. If those guesses are not met, the cabinet will get a clear push forward.


A poker game to make a government

Fernando G. Urbaneja | Spanish politics has become a poker game that has to conclude with the withdrawal of some players to abstention (nationalists) and the sum of favorable cards from others (the left) against the rights. Some variations fit, but they are very unlikely. And another failure that would lead to new elections in 2020 would be possible. But that seems like a catastrophic outcome for all.


Pedro Sánchez chooses the left

Fernando G. Urbaneja | Pedro Sánchez, relative winner of the elections (with fewer votes and seats) has chosen the less rugged path to his investiture and to remain in power. He is returning to the original plan, that of the censure vote in June 2017 which allowed him to replace Rajoy. The pact with Iglesias was impossible in the last legislature (from May to June), which passed through months of mutual reproaches. Today it came about in an afternoon; a conversation in the Moncloa between Pedro Sanchez and Pablo Iglesias renewed the model of the pact to remove Rajoy with the argument of creating a “progressive” government, the key word which avoids other more precise words, like a government of the left.


Spain without a government

Fernando G. Urbaneja | If governance in Spain was difficult before and leaders apparently lacked the ability of forming stable alliances, now the picture is even more complicated. All leaders except far right party VOX and nationalists have failed, although no one admits it nor takes responsibility.


Taxes, the unpopular conundrum

Fernando G. Urbaneja | In France, president Macron, making good arguments, although not explaining them enough, wanted to raise taxes on fuel and millions of citizens forced him to back down. In Ecuador, President Lenin Moreno has gone through such a trance for the same reason. In Chile, President Piñera is on the verge of eviction for the attempt to raise urban transport rates.


Spanish political leaders face to face

Fernando G. Urbaneja | The debate between the Spanish national political leaders (ranging from the far right to the far left) over two and half hours on Monday night, with a rigid format, and broadcast by various television and radio channels, was abrupt, with all attacking each other, many populist proposals, without inspiring or motivating ideas for the voters and without clear indications about possible alliances which could unblock the political impasse after Sunday´s vote.

 


Elections in Spain and the “Syndrome of the Leopard”

Fernando G. Urbaneja | The political parties’ electoral strategies will be revealed this week in the televised debates scheduled for Monday night (the five party leaders, shown by various channels) and Thursday night. Thursday night’s debate, the so-called women’s debate, is organised by La Sexta, the main channel for the left. To these two debates must be added the weather, in other words the turnout, which could cause problems for all the candidates, with theories for every taste. All want to mobilise their sleeping or fed up voters on November 10, all fear that a low turn out will prejudice them; and a rainy Sunday is not a day for voting.

 


Franco buried, Francoism too

Fernando G. Urbaneja | The appearance of Franco 15 days before a general election forms part of an electoral strategy, but there is no evidence that it will have the slightest influence on how people vote.Spaniards worry about the economy, employment, wages and public goods related to the welfare state. The Franco business is rabble-rousing, fireworks and distraction.