Spain after the elections: the 'Germany of the south'?
Spain votes on 20th November, in the jaws of the two great issues facing Europe: the financial crisis and the Arab Spring. The outcome of the election will affect whether Spain plays a crucial role in helping Europe deal with both crises, heal divisions between northern and southern Europe, and bring stability and reform to the EU’s southern neighbourhood.
A new ECFR essay by José Ignacio Torreblanca and Mark Leonard – ‘Spain after the election: the “Germany of the south”?’ – sets out how a new Spanish government under Mariano Rajoy can come up with a credible plan to deal with Spain’s problems that also helps the rest of Europe.
Polls suggest a heavy defeat for the socialist government of José-Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, with victory for Mariano Rajoy and his Partido Popular.
Spain faces three main challenges: 1. Economic – Spain is firmly in the line of contagion, with very high unemployment and an overinflated real estate bubble; 2. Political – Spain needs to restore credibility to remain on the right side of any 2-speed Europe; 3. Foreign policy – Spain’s interests as a strategic Mediterranean power mesh with Europe’s interests in the region.
Rajoy has a credible plan to ‘shock and awe’ financial marketswith austerity measures, budget cuts and structural reforms that sell Spain as a “Germany of the south” and point Spain back on a course of economic growth.
Although the Spanish election coincides with the 36th anniversary of Franco’s death, very few issues in these elections date back to the Franco era. They date back to the Europeanisation that Spain has witnessed since joining the EU in 1986.
Click here for a pdf of ‘Spain after the election: the “Germany of the south”?’
“By helping Spain, a new Spanish government could help Europe deal with the financial crisis and bring stability and reform to North Africa. Spain is willing to become the “Germany of the South”, but it needs help from the rest of Europe.” José Ignacio Torreblanca
This paper, like all ECFR publications, represents the views of its authors, not the collective position of ECFR or its Council Members.
The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) is the first pan-European think-tank. Launched in October 2007, its objective is to conduct research and promote informed debate across Europe on the development of coherent and effective European values based foreign policy.