Thursday, November 17, 2011

Is there any point to the Spanish Elections?

Spain goes to the polls on Sunday to elect a new government and, yes, my question is facetious. Of course the elections are not pointless; no democratic election ever is. Apart from anything the people will get their chance to pass judgment on the record of Prime Minister Zapatero and his Socialists. Polls point to a big thumbs down and the election of the PP and their leader Mariano Rajoy who has tried and failed to win twice before.

But will it make much difference whatever happens? Spain is so close to the eye of the Eurozone storm that any new government will be powerless against the combined forces of the bond markets and the Eurozone. The PP are talking tough about bank reforms (which will surely send Spanish property prices down further – How the bailout could send Spanish property crashing) and labour market reform but it will be Germany and the ECB that decides Spain’s fate.

Look at the way that Berlusconi was finally forced from power. The Italians are well rid of him but it took Eurozone threats to do the job. It is notable that the new Italian government contains not a single elected minister.

Over in Greece the call for a referendum to get popular support for austerity measures was taken as a “breach of trust” by France and Germany; Papandreou was kicked out and Greece was effectively blackmailed into cancelling the vote.

I don’t subscribe to the theory that the Southern European countries are being drawn into a German super state but they certainly have lost control of their destiny. Either Spain and the others will be rescued by Germany or it will be forced to crash out of the Euro. It’s that simple and Sunday’s vote will not change a thing.

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