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A Country on a Tightrope: The Economic Crisis and the End of an Era in Spanish Politics

This commentary tries to study the current socio-economic crisis in Spain and the end of the political era which began with transition to democracy in the second half of the 1970s. Following pages deal with the intense rise of the unemployment rate and the social drama caused by the increase of material inequalities in Spain. It also analyzes the political crisis that threatens to destroy the institutional model which was crafted after 40 years of harsh dictatorship. All these factors are provoking political suspicion and social despair among some sectors of Spanish society. But there are not only feelings of disappointment and defeat in Spain. The large-scale protests that have engulfed the country over the last two years represent a powerful social force for grass-root democratic regeneration in this part of the Iberian Peninsula.

A Country on a Tightrope The Economic Crisis and the
A man reacts as he holds a placard reading “Not like this” in front of fences blocking the street leading to the Spain’s parliament (Las Cortes) during an anti-government demonstration in Madrid on April 25, 2013. AFP / Dani Pozo
 

After the years Spain’s Transition to democracy in the late 1970s, this country is standing at its second major historical crossroads in less than half a century. Following a period of incredible prosperity between 1991 and 2007, the country is currently experiencing the worst economic situation since the “hunger years” following the Civil War in the late 1930s. What is more, the political system’s inability to correct flaws in the market has increased Spanish citizens mistrust in their democracy.

Three factors explain the interrelation between the economic and political crisis currently plaguing Spain. First, an increasing number of citizens believe that neither the economy is under control nor is Spanish democracy.

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