A bizarre and poorly researched article published in the Economist the other day used Francisco Granados, one of the senior figures in Esperanza Aguirre's administration, as a reliable source for a very tendentious article on Spain's public sector. Granados complains about how the Madrid regional government is able to cut down the number of official cars they use, but not able to get rid of the drivers.
This is of course a bit rich coming from someone who hires people onto the public payroll so that they can spend their time following his and Aguirre's political rivals inside their own party. Even richer for any of these people to parade themselves as champions of austerity when they hand out lucrative contracts to private companies which get as a visible result....absolutely nothing.
The article gives the impression that Spain has a vast, bloated public sector - a view of course entirely in keeping with the Economist's ideological traditions but very far removed from the truth. It needs to be pointed out yet again that Spain spends proportionately significantly less of its wealth on provision of public services than most other Western European countries, a situation that has not changed significantly during the years of the boom.
In any case, the real austerity measures in Madrid are those that result from decisions by the national government. The pay cuts for public sector workers will save Aguirre far more money than the very token austerity measures that she has introduced. The Economist ends up regretting that not enough public sector workers will be sacked to add to the already enormous ranks of the unemployed. A slightly earlier article by the same writer puts the blame for the near defeat of the government's austerity package on the 7 representatives of the Basque nationalist PNV. Perhaps Granados was also the source for that one, given that the vast majority of the votes against the package came from the PP, a detail not mentioned by the Economist.
So this is one of the journals that get used as a reference by those who take decisions affecting our future. In next week's Economist perhaps we can get Silvio Berlusconi giving us his views on ethics and clean government?