No End In Sight

Figures published yesterday show a sharp rise in unemployment here in Spain in the first quarter of 2013, such that the level of unemployment is now 27.2% of the workforce; among under twenty fives it is now 57% in Spain as a whole, and even higher - though I don’t have the latest figure - in Andalucía. But there is a second, extremely disturbing factor affecting people now. With unemployment at these levels, it is not at all uncommon to encounter households in which no one has a job. All too often, these families are living in homes on which there is a mortgage. Or those living in rented accommodation, public or private sector, find that they cannot pay their rent. There were demonstrations in Madrid and elsewhere against current government economic policy, but there are also frequent demonstrations against the government’s failure to intervene in the rising tide of evictions by banks repossessing mortgaged properties or private and public landlords reclaiming rented properties to relet to those fortunate enough still to be able to pay rent. Inevitably, organisations like Cáritas and the Spanish Red Cross are finding themselves faced with rapidly rising demands on their food banks and stores of second hand clothing, household goods, etc. Spain is a young democracy, and democracy is highly valued and cherished, but I don’t know how deep-rooted it is, and I wonder whether it can survive in the face of these hardships. If Angela Merkel has any suggestions, I’d be interested to hear them.

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