William Chislett’s 79th Inside Spain starts as usual with news on Spain’s Foreign Policy. During her visit to rebel-held eastern Libya, the Spanish Foreign Minister recognised Libya’s National Transition Council as the country’s legitimate representative, joining France, Italy, Qatar and Jordan. Also, the Defence Minister announced that Spain’s participation in the Nato-led mission would be prolonged indefinitely. In a separate move, the EU’s General Court rejected the appeal by the government of Gibraltar, which objected to the classification of part of the waters surrounding the Rock as a Spanish protected area. On the Domestic Scene, the Socialists were heavily defeated in the local and regional elections. The Conservative PP captured 2 million votes more than the Socialists in the local elections and was almost 10 pp ahead, compared with 150,000 votes and less than one percentage point in the 2007 municipal polls. In the Basque Country, Bildu, the pro-independence coalition that was only able to contest the local elections after the Constitutional Court overturned the ban on it imposed by the Supreme Court, won 25% of the vote (74 local councils), making it the second most voted party in town halls after the conservative Basque Nationalist Party (PNV). Right after the elections, the federal committee of the Socialists chose Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, the Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, as its candidate for the next general election in place of Rodríguez Zapatero, who announced seven weeks before the local and regional elections that he would not stand for a third term. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people, mainly young adults, staged sit-ins around Spain for three weeks to protest at the impact on them of the country’s economic crisis and the failure of the political class to respond adequately. The movement, known as Real Democracy Now, began in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol on 15 May, and quickly spread to squares in around 60 other cities. On the Economy, the government won compensation from the EU for the economic losses suffered after German health authorities initially and erroneously blamed Spanish cucumbers for the outbreak of E. coli in their country, but said it was not sufficient. Despite the fact that the PP has raised the alarm over regional and local government finances, Elena Salgado, the Finance Minister, said the overall deficit target of 6% of GDP would be met. The governor of the Bank of Spain said this was crucial for Spain’s credibility and that failure to meet the deficit target would spook the markets and increase the spread between Spanish 10-year treasury bonds and German bunds. Also, the government was forced to unilaterally approve collective bargaining reforms after trade unions and employers failed to reach an agreement. While exports in the first quarter jumped by 23.4% year-on-year to €52.73 billion, the largest quarterly rise since the fourth quarter of 1994, the trade deficit was 3.3% higher at €12.77 billion because of an 18.9% increase in imports to €65.50 billion. For the second quarter running Spain registered a trade surplus with the EU.
The Elcano Royal Institute has launched the Elcano Global Presence Index (EGPI, IEPG after its initials in Spanish). The index, based on 14 variables in the economic, military, scientific, social and cultural fields, is a much wider measurement of globalization than traditional ones, such as the degree of openness of economies, and will be produced every year. As expected, the US is the country with the greatest global presence and China is very much in the ascendant.
Spain is ranked 9th out of 54 countries. Its results in the five categories reflect the country’s strong and sustained internationalisation over the past two decades: its highest ranking is in migration and tourism and its lowest in technological development.
The second and third highlights are devoted to current events in Europe and the Arab World. The Institute’s Senior Analyst for Europe, Ignacio Molina, examines the role of the General Affairs Council after the Lisbon Treaty. Ronald Bruce St John writes on the recent progress made by the Libyan Transitional National Council (TNC), pointing out that ‘it is not the war but the peace which will define how post-Gaddafi Libya is governed’.
Also on Europe, William Chislett analyses the parliamentary election results in Turkey, while Roderick Parkes wonders if ‘Germany’s new position on Schengen is a sign of the ‘normalisation’ of its European policy?’ Finally, Krisztina Vida reflects on the achievements and handicaps of the Hungarian EU Presidency.
In the light of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy, our Senior Analyst for Security and Defence Félix Arteaga examines the evaluation mechanisms of the EU’s CSDP missions.
In the Mediterranean and Arab World area, the Institute’s Senior Analyst Haizam Amirah-Fernández and Eduard Soler i Recha from CIDOB Barcelona write on the paradigm shift in Euro-Mediterranean relations. We have also made available our second monthly analysis of the Arab unrest, written by Silvia Montero and the Elcano Information and Documentation Service.
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