Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Dial R For Recession

Spain is not yet officially in recession, that only comes when you have had two consecutive quarters of negative growth. However, the expectation is now that the recession will be officially declared in the new year as the last quarter has already given us a negative growth figure, and there is no reason to think that the one that began in October will be any better. Gloomy predictions have been made about unemployment reaching 15% next year as the crisis really starts to bite.

Politically, the economic downturn isn’t yet producing the kind of anti-government backlash that Mariano Rajoy and the Partido Popular are desperately hoping for. The latest opinion polls published this week showed the two major parties exactly level, which is an improvement for the PP on the election result but which is worse than a previous poll which showed them starting to edge ahead of the government. The PP’s level of support in the polls is a bit lower than that which they achieved in the general election, meaning that the voters who have deserted the government are not turning to Rajoy as the alternative. The government may benefit from it becoming clear just how international the crisis has become, and has at least given the impression of being a bit more active in recent weeks.

One beneficiary, if the poll in Público is accurate, is the UPD - Spain's newest nationalist anti-nationalist party. Stop me if this gets confusing. Público's data showed UPD ahead of Izquierda Unida although when you are dealing with figures of around 4% support then the margin of error could be significant. Based on the only electoral evidence we have so far, UPD's programme of rolling back regional autonomy in Spain is most popular in the Villa de Madrid. Meanwhile the employers association has criticised measures designed to alleviate the problems of the unemployed, claiming that it's the companies that should be paid to get rid of their workers. They seem to be unaware that all of our money is already tied up propping up the banks.


Troy said...

The UPD could go somewhere yet...I have always thought that the day a "real" centrist party devoid of Men in Black emerged here in Spain, both the PP and the PSOE would deflate considerably. The only problem is that so far, the UPD's only real platform has been nationalistic rhetoric...when they begin to distinguish themselves though, could spell trouble for both big guys and bring back a taste of mulit-party politics.

The left and especially the government have been really lucky that the PP have hapless Rajoy at the helm, otherwise their ship would indeed be in stormy waters now. Spaniards seem to think that the housing boom could have been upheld indefinitely.

An aside, don't know if you've visited this site, but it's in English and gives Anglo readers a good insight into the Right's thinking.

Graeme said...

The only available poltical space is really to the right of centre, despite Rajoy's attempts to get the PP to occupy it. If you take away the anti-nationalist part then it's not easy to see what else UPD has. Almost all parties like this end up leaning opportunistically in the direction that the political wind happens to be blowing in at any given time. I'll have a look at the site you mention.

Troy said...

Hi again...looks as though you are getting famous in the blogosphere, check out the comment here:

Graeme said...

"looks as though you are getting famous in the blogosphere"

I'm a legend in my own lunchtime. I think Moscow has already made clear his disagreements with my views on this blog too, until he gave up in exasperation. I am toying with the idea of a post on the illusions of political centrism, starting with the idea that it is somehow non-ideological.

Tom said...

@Troy - I too find it difficult to believe that UPyD will ever really represent the 'middle ground' in the way that you hope they will. The problem with many of their policies is that while ostensibly 'dropping' the nationalist narrative (their opposition to Statutes of Autonomy, for example), realistically these positions are correctly criticised as defending one nationalism against another.

If UPyD's anti-devolution measures ever came close to being enacted, they would trigger an increase in separatist feeling in Catalonia (and, I suspect, the Basque Country). If there is a 'middle ground' to be found it probably lies in the federalist model, not in rolling back decades of devolution.

@ Graeme - your new post idea sounds good. Looking forward to reading it, as usual.

STAG said...

Hmmm. Seems like a good time to buy a house in Spain.

Graeme said...

Not necessarily - a lot of people don't want to sell although there are plenty of unsold newly built flats in the middle of nowhere.