News / Europe

Spain Gets Mixed Reviews on Handling Economy

People sleep outside the headquarters of Spanish nationalized lender Bankia, where protesters have camped for more than three weeks, in Madrid, November 20, 2012.
People sleep outside the headquarters of Spanish nationalized lender Bankia, where protesters have camped for more than three weeks, in Madrid, November 20, 2012.
Caroline Arbour
One year ago Tuesday, November 20, Mariano Rajoy's Partido Popular (PP) won a landslide victory in Spain's parliamentary elections, but it is facing mounting criticism from voters on its handling of the economic crisis. Experts counter results will take time.

When Spain’s conservative Partido Popular won an absolute majority in the November general elections last year, the country’s economy was already sliding on a downhill slope, headed towards its second recession in three years. A record 21.5 percent of Spaniards were out of a job.  

In his first speech as prime minister-elect, Mariano Rajoy promised to tackle unemployment, the deficit and the country’s excessive debt.

Within seven months, his government had announced $80 billion worth of cost-saving measures, including cuts to all ministries. And it made labor laws less rigid.

Streets and squares have been filling regularly with angry protesters. The leading unions and the opposition believe the government is irreversibly destroying Spain’s cherished social model.

Socialist party leader Alfredo Rubalcaba says Spaniards are worse off than a year ago.
Unemployment now stands at 25 percent. But some argue it was bound to get worse before it gets better.

Ramon Pacheco Pardo, a lecturer in European and international studies at King’s College in London, says it is too early to judge whether or not the government’s plan is good or bad.

“I think [what] the government has done right is that it has started to tackle some of the long-term problems of the Spanish economy," said Pardo. "On the other hand, I think some of the measures that have been taken, like cuts in the health sector, cuts in the education sector have been introduced far too quickly.”

Economist and former bank inspector Rubén Manso Olivar believes the reforms and economic measures have not gone far enough.

He says, for example, that banks should have been allowed to fail rather than the government transferring their toxic real estate assets to a newly formed entity, and it should have been more forceful in demanding autonomous regions rein in their spending.

Although talks of a bailout have subsided lately, both Manso Olivar and Pacheco Pardo think there will be calls again for Spain to seek help, as borrowing costs are likely to remain high.

“The central government and the regional governments in Spain really have no means to pay off their debt," said Pardo. The Spanish deficit is not as high, yeah, if you compare with other European countries. The problem is that there is a lack of confidence in the Spanish government paying off its debt.”

He says there will probably be more social unrest in the coming months because the economic situation will not improve in 2013.

Mariano Rajoy’s government seems determined to maintain its course. And it should, says Rubén Manso Olivar.

He says Spaniards voted to give the Partido Popular a four-year mandate, and the government should be afforded a chance to govern.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid