Joan Tapia ( Barcelona) | The Spanish economy is doing somewhat better than expected, but both the slowdown and the extent to which governability depends on Podemos are worrying. We have spent weeks talking about the slowdown, but in the end GDP growth for the first quarter was 0.7%, compared to 0.6% in the last quarter of 2018 and 0.5% in the quarter before that.
Articles by Joan Tapia
About the Author
Joan Tapia (Barcelona) | As I write this article, three polls have been published – in three Spanish newspapers ABC, El Periodico de Catalunya and Confidencial – which practically agree. If there are no changes in the twenty days that remain before the elections, PSOE will be the largest party with more than 130 seats, far distant from the PP which will remain on 80-90 seats.
Joan Tapia (Barcelona) | BBVA says that Spain could grow 2.4% this year (it grew 2.5% in 2018) and 2% in 2020. This would create 800,000 jobs over the two years and unemployment would fall to 12.6% (compared to 15.3% in 2018). Yet, BBVA also warns that the probability of an accident has increased. Spain’s public debt is 12 points above the eurozone average, around 100% of GDP. Moreover, the Catalan situation is explosive as it represents 16% of the population and 19% of GDP.
The political instability is not just a Spanish phenomenon. We are far from the climate of the thirties in the 20th century, but the increase in nationalist populism is worrying. 2019 is replete with uncertainties, but it is also true that unemployment in the European Union has fallen below 8% for the first time since the crisis and that in Spain the number of people affiliated with Social Security has recovered pre-2008 levels.
Joan Tapia | We should not over dramatize, but the Andalusian result does not incline us towards optimism. We should not rule out the possibility that a political sphere dominated ever more by conflict could negatively affect the economy. Even if up until now it has not happened. As the saying goes, the pitcher goes so often to the well that in the end it breaks.
Spain has gone almost three years without a government with a parliamentary majority. The worst part is that there is nothing on the horizon that would guarantee more stability. To this already very complicated panorama must be added that the Supreme Court has been incapable of arbitrating a solution acceptable for Spanish society about who should pay mortgage stamp duty.
Perhaps for the first time in many months the attention paid to the economy competes with the political crisis when evaluating the situation in Spain. For two reasons: one, there are signs of deceleration which should not be lost sight of, and two, because these symptoms could be, together with the difficult negotiation over the Budget – a key test of the viability of Perdo Sánchez’s new government.
It’s almost certain that the Catalan crisis will prevent the Spanish budget from being approved, which will be a blow to political stability and the duration of the current legislature.
On the day when Catalonia votes for a new government, the region’s citizens are very confused about the reasons and where the blame lies for the situation they find themselves in.
The outcome of the Catalonia elections on December 21 will not easily bring a quick solution to the problem in the region. But both in the case of the independence movement losing the majority of seats (it no longer had the majority of votes and it’s almost impossible for it to obtain) or there being a division over the future, the path towards normalisation will have started.