Political instability in Spain takes a toll on global image

A study based on 2017 World Bank figures shows the country has fallen two spots to 27th on the international index

Unidas Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias on the first day of the investiture debate.
Unidas Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias on the first day of the investiture debate.OSCAR DEL POZO (AFP)

Political instability in Spain is hurting its global image. The country has fallen from 25th to 27th place on the Good Governance Index, compiled by the MESIAS project with support from España Global (or Global Spain), a state agency working to monitor and improve the country’s image abroad.

The index ranks countries in six different areas: control of corruption, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law and voice and accountability. Spain fell in all parameters from 2016 to 2017 except for rule of law, where it moved up one place to 26th spot. But the most pronounced fall was in the area of political stability, where Spain fell from 33rd to 40th position on the list of 145 countries.

The study is based on World Bank data from 2017, which is the latest year available, and does not take into account the recent failed investiture bid of acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Party, or his successful no-confidence motion of June 2018.

According to José Maria Cubillo, a doctor in economic and business studies at the Autonomous University of Madrid and the leader of the MESIAS project, the drop can be attributed to the crisis in Catalonia, where an independence movement has divided the region, and to the repeat elections in 2016. “What’s worrying is that Spain has fallen in five of the six parameters that are measured, and more importantly, there is a continual drop in good governance since the index began 12 years ago,” he explains. In 2005, Spain came in 20th place on the world ranking but today it is ranked 27th. In control of corruption, the country has fallen from 18th position to 32nd, and in government efficiency, it is ranked 23rd, down from 17th.

“Spain is still a world leader when it comes to good governance, within the first quartile [of the list], but it continues to follow a downward trend, and if this path continues, it could fall behind its EU neighbors,” warns Cubillo.

According to the study, New Zealand has the best government in the world. Five EU countries (Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany) are in the top five, and another 13 are within the top 20.

Cubillo believes the seven-point drop in political stability reflects “a certain dissatisfaction” of Spaniards towards the political class. “What the data tells us is that there is a feeling that things are not going well. Instability causes uncertainty and inhibits people when it comes time to make long-term decisions,” he explains.

Spaniards’ opinion of their government’s ability to control corruption has dropped in recent years, reaching its worst point in 2017 with the trial in the so-called Gürtel case, the largest probe into political corruption in Spain’s democratic history. Confidence in government effectiveness and regulatory quality have also steadily fallen.

English version by Melissa Kitson.


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