The government of Mariano Rajoy is hoping to have been seen to be quick and eager to reassure Brussels that Spain may be wounded and in pain, but that the cure is already underway.
The ordinary rate of IVA has gone up to 21% (following a rise last year by the PSOE of 16% to 18%), school-books have gone up in price with a massive tax increase (just in time for the school year), higher prices on public utilities have been allowed (including the electric company, Endesa, making its prices the highest in Europe) and even the poor funcionarios, Spain’s three million strong public servants, have had to wave goodbye to their Christmas bonus. The Minister of Justice is tightening the abortion rules to strict church limits and many file-sharing sites (video pirates if you prefer) are being closed down. Around 160 bank-sponsored evictions are being carried out each day. The poor have not been forgotten, with the special 400 euros handout introduced by the socialists being returned for a further six months, although under strict new conditions.
A recent survey asked if Rajoy should spend more attention on solving the unemployment crisis – also the highest in Europe, with some provinces standing (or rather ‘sitting down’) at 35% - and less on trying to fix the prime rate and appease the bankers in Brussels.
Perhaps, indeed, with all the vinegar, Rajoy should be considering a small bonus to his subjects, a sop to the masses, a bit of good news to treasure during this dark autumn and winter to come.
There was a hint of raising the speed limit on the motorways – but instead, they lowered it on the byways, increased the police presence everywhere and, in a move designed to send the tourist market reeling, the new head of Tráfico has recently said that she wants to see ‘zero alcohol’ on the highway code as soon as possible.
So far, the best the PP thinkers have come up with has been a putsch on the public television and radio of any newscasters and interviewers thought to be meddlesome. The good news is - they’ve put bullfighting back on.
Some opposition politicians and intellectuals are talking of insurrection (as far as they can – a new law has been passed making encouragement to violent protest, even on Facebook, a crime punishable by two years).
The answer to this, according to Cayo Lara, the General Secretary of the Izquierda Unida (the Far Left alliance) could be to imprison a banker. ‘Spain’, he says, ‘needs to have the image of a banker behind bars’ he told Europe Press, adding that ‘the banking fraternity doesn’t need to walk on a bed of roses and that those responsible for ruining many thousands of people and contributing to a blood-bath of public resources should be held to account’.
The Government however refuses to hold an enquiry in Parliament on the origins of the current crisis and, apparently and despite alarming accounts of massive public fraud, no banker appears to be at risk of losing their liberty.
On September 25th, a protest called ‘Occupy the Parliament’ will be held in Madrid. It will be a test of how far the public is prepared to show their impatience with the current crisis.