_
_
_
_
EDITORIAL
Editorials
These are the responsibility of the editor and convey the newspaper's view on current affairs-both domestic and international

100 days of reality

Rajoy now sees that a change of government is not enough to lead Spain out of crisis

As he passes the 100 days traditionally granted to all new governments to settle in, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy now faces a very serious reality check. Contrary to his arguments while in opposition, it is now clear that the economic crisis is not simply the result of policies, or the lack thereof, applied by the previous government, but the outcome of circumstances that have been developing for years domestically and internationally. In short, putting the government in the hands of one party as opposed to another has not been sufficient for the Spanish economy to undergo some kind of magical transformation.

The new government has shown determination to tackle the crisis, and rightly so. At the same it has made the mistake of applying that determination to a long-term strategy that is not politically acceptable, and by so doing has created a climate of tension that will undermine the unity needed to face the country's difficulties, while at the same time compromising Spain's position as regards its EU partners.

Rajoy's only reason for delaying the announcement of the budget was the regional elections in Andalusia last month, a stratagem aimed at not harming the chances of the Popular Party's eternal candidate there, Javier Arenas. The fact that the ruse failed is no longer the issue: the irresponsible delay in announcing the budget has put Spain in the position of being a lightning rod for the crisis in the euro zone, having reduced by several months the time required by the government to meet its commitment to reduce the deficit. The result is worrying: Spain is now at the center of the euro-zone crisis, and has lost the confidence of its partners in Europe.

During its first three months in office, the government has tried to cover up its deliberate evasion of dealing with the budget by a heavy handed approach to draconian labor market reforms. The idea was to dupe Brussels into believing that the lack of progress in setting a budget was because it was tied up with other issues. The outcome of this electioneering has been widespread protests, along with a general strike, and which has now put the government in the position of having to decide either to press ahead with solutions to the crisis on its own, or whether to try to do so through dialogue and based on consensus, above all with the labor unions. The attacks that have been made against the labor unions are completely out of place in a democracy, and have done serious harm to Spain's economy.

Rajoy and his government have accepted continuing with the peace process in the Basque Country based on consensus between the main political parties involved, and decided to drop the point-scoring attitude that characterized the PP's approach in opposition, something that has strengthened the position of the state. But it has sought to appease its more radical elements by attempting to curtail legislation guaranteeing abortion rights, as well as by introducing confusing changes to the education system regarding the teaching of religion. It has also sought to bring the regions into line by threatening to reduce central government funding.

Rajoy and the PP currently enjoy a level of control over this country's institutions that is unprecedented in modern history, despite failing to win a clear majority in Andalusia and Asturias. Depending on how the government uses that control, Spain will emerge from the crisis stronger, or torn apart by political and social conflict that will take many years to repair.

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
_
_