With the title “Reflections ahead of this New Legislature,” Spain’s Businessmen’s Association recently held an event to discuss Rajoy’s new government. They congratulated themselves on the fact that the political deadlock was over, but called for the new government to ensure stability and continuity in time. In short, that there will be reforming governance, which will eliminate once and for all the threat of another round of general elections in the short-term. So it will be inevitable that the main political parties reach an agreement.
The Businessmen’s Association frequently produces reports and analysis defending free enterprise in a country where public spending as a percentage of GDP exceeds 43%. Its stance has concealed a certain silence on the part of the business class with respect to Spain’s ten months without a government. Neither businessmen nor trade unions have shown up during this long crisis, which to some extent reflects the role and the attitude of the so-called civil society in Spain.
The most obvious example of this is the zero role the Committee for Competitiveness in Business has had this year. This organisation was set up in 2011 by the heads of the 15 biggest Spanish companies, whose income is equivalent to 35% of GDP. Its aim was to help the economic recovery, come up with proposals on how to improve competitiveness and strengthen international investor confidence in Spain. The Family Business Institute was incorporated in the Committee.
Its deafening silence over this past year when the country has been without a government was a presage of the fact it would disappear with more grief than glory. And this reflects the scant interest these big businessmen have in participating as a group in Spain’s general political and economic matters, especially when any one of them carries more weight and has more influence on an individual basis than as a pressure group.
It’s presumable that Cesar Alierta’s departure from Telefónica, coupled with the fact his third mandate as head of The Committee for Competitiveness in Business will end next February, will mean the organisation will fold. It started strongly, but has lost momentum over the last few years.