A government opposed to employers and profits

pedro sanchez

Fernando González Urbaneja | This is nothing new. Placing successful entrepreneurs and corporate profits as targets of electoral political debate has been part of the agenda of more than a few political parties, especially the most extreme ones, both on the right and on the left. The novelty now in Spain is that the president of the government and of the socialist party is taking up this argument as one of the axes of his narrative. He did so when his colleagues dislodged him from the PSOE leadership and has continued to do so at the head of the government. None of the European heads of government with whom he rubs shoulders every week has included this position in theirhis discourse.

The comment that if the presidents of Spain’s leading companies were speaking out against his policies (which is not true) it is a sign that he is getting it right is, to say the least, bizarre. It may have been an excess of rallying, but he has reiterated it in one form or another and at different times enough to conclude that it is part of his core doctrine, so to speak.
One might think that this is mere rhetoric, words that are carried away by the wind; but there is enough data to conclude that the current government is the most hostile during the constitutional period to what we might call the “business community”.

There is no shortage of verbal and real interventionist biases (control of rents, prices, profits…) that recall the measures of the first Franco regime, the most autarkic and military.

In the government’s argument – more pronounced in Podemos and other partners, but very much indulged within leading socialism – there are two clichéd mantras: the distrust of big business and the rejection of profit.

That the Podemos camp should take on this discourse is to be expected; that the PSOE, which has governed for more than half of the democratic phase, does so seems more striking, more inconsistent. Perhaps it is not necessary to give it any greater importance: empty words, hotheaded electioneering, rally demagogy, but the facts show that they go beyond that and that they take form in a legislative framework that is increasingly hostile to businessmen and to the obtaining of profits.

Also striking is the impotence or resignation of the business community when it comes to defending its own position and to countering the inconsistency of its critics’ arguments. The casualness with which figures are handled without putting them in context is astonishing. Huge profits of large companies are criticised without taking into account the orders of magnitude and are discredited and condemned without considering the destination of these profits, or even their origin and how they were obtained.
Legitimate, justified, coherent profits that cease to be so in order to be judged as excessive, greedy, unsupportive because of a simple, ignorant prejudice. Perhaps this discourse will yield some electoral returns, but it is not certain. It is a discourse that is more passionate than reasonable, more misleading than accurate, more useless and retrograde than constructive and exciting. It may also serve to cover up other miseries.

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.