The Real Problem

Spain’s problem – apart from private debt and the banks – is a question of chaotic decentralisation. With the death of Franco and the cautious first steps of the new democracy, politicians of the time had two problems; the Army and the separatists.

The fledgling government, appointed by the King to carry out the transition from dictatorship to democracy, was right to be concerned over the political ambition of the nation’s armed forces, as soon became apparent on the 23rd of February, 1981, with a failed military coup. ETA, instead of ending its armed fight now that the dictatorship was dead, carried on targeting military figures and security forces and each time another attack was carried out, another menacing tremor flowed through the Army.

But if having a military body with a hankering for a military government for Spain wasn’t problematic enough, these statesmen of the new democracy also had to deal with Catalan and Basque separatist wishes, so the way forward was a decentralised state consisting of 17 autonomous regions, each with its regional parliament. Expensive, but manageable.

The Central Government when passing certain responsibilities or powers to the regional administrations passed over 821,357 public posts; i.e., they were transferred over to carry out the tasks that they had originally been doing for the Central Government. However, since then, the regional administrations, in what can only be described a ‘jobs-for-the-boys, fest,’ now employ 1,740,000 public workers, and it keeps going up. The fact is that these 920,000 extra posts cannot be justified.

Have these posts been created for doctors or teachers? No, although their number has increased in proportion to the population growth; no, on the contrary, it is estimated that around half a million are ‘enchufados;’ i.e., a cosy post for friends, family and as vote rewards. The other 400,000 are a product of multiplying by 17 administrative structures.

Regional governments around the country have created a staggering 2,671 public companies, run by hand-picked ‘chums.’ There has been no fiscal control over these public companies, some of which have more ‘chiefs’ than ‘indians.’

So we have 17 bloated regional administrations that soak up 86,000,000,000 euros annually, but neither of the two main political parties are going to set about the regional administrations with the economic pruning shears and upset the bean feast. No, rather than cut back on these superfluous public posts, the socialists and conservatives are going to cut down on hospital beds, freeze or cut pensions, do away with free text books for schools and a long, long etc.

We will lose doctors and teachers but keep our 445,568 politicians, which is double that of Italy and Frances. Germany, bless their cotton socks, has three times fewer politicians with double the population, not only that, but Germany is also a federal state like Spain; i.e., it has regional governments, So, how exactly can the PSOE and PP justify this hideous number of hangers-on?

We have problems with the regional savings banks, which are staggering under bad debt, but these regional banks all have politically appointed heads with juicy salaries. The much talked about Bankia is an amalgamation of five regional ‘cajas’ all run by the conservatives, which is why the conservative government will not allow a parliamentary inquiry into how Bankia got into such a mess. It’s all about politicians soaking up public salaries, bonuses and golden pensions, unfortunately.

The fact of the matter is that Spain no longer needs 17 regional governments – its democracy is as solid as a rock because the Spanish Armed forces have become the darlings of the Spaniards, admired by most.

Just to give one example, why does Andalucía, for example, need three public TV channels? Why do we need 17 separate Supreme Courts in our judicial system? It is utter madness and unsustainable, but don’t expect our dear politicians to cut back where it counts; just expect fewer doctors, firemen, teachers, etc…

(Opinion: Spain and its autonomous regions)

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