Can Podemos win Spain’s next general election?

Last Sunday’s elections in 13 of Spain’s 17 regions (except for Andalusia, Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque Country) and in 8,100 halls confirmed the change in the mould of politics in post-Franco Spain, dominated at the national level by the Socialists and the conservative Popular Party since 1982. Two new parties, the leftist Podemos and the centrist market-friendly Ciudadanos, took away votes from the Socialists and the PP and also from United Left (the revamped communist party) and UPyD. This ushered in a new era of four parties, which will change the shape of Spanish politics.

The PP gained 27% of the votes cast in the municipal elections, down from 37.5% in 2011, and the Socialists won 25% (27.8% in 2011). Between them they captured 52% of the vote, compared with 65.3% in 2011 and 73.4% in the 2011 general election. The PP drew a crumb of comfort from still being the most voted party, but not by very much. The party, as hoped, did not reap any political dividends from the economic recovery. It lost 2.4 million votes as against the Socialists’ loss of 670,000.

The PP lost its absolute majorities in eight of the 13 regions that held elections including Madrid and Valencia, its two fiefdoms, where it has been badly damaged by a spate of corruption scandals. The PP also failed to win another absolute majority in Madrid’s municipal elections and could lose control of the town hall, after 24 years, if the Socialists back Podemos, which ran under the banner of the Ahora Madrid coalition and won only one fewer seats than the PP. The battle in Madrid was between two grandmothers, the 63-year-old PP stalwart Esperanza Aguirre and the 71-year-old Manuela Carmena, a retired Supreme Court judge and human rights activist for Ahora Madrid.
In her communist days during the Franco dictatorship Carmena co-founded the labour lawyers’ office, which was attacked in 1977 by right wing extremists who shot dead five of her colleagues.

The other significant victory for the anti-austerity Podemos was in Barcelona and also for another charismatic woman, Ada Colau, a 41-year-old anti-eviction activist. She snatched control of the town hall from the nationalist CiU by winning 11 of the 41 seats (25% of the vote), but will need to form alliances in order to govern. Her victory in the Catalan capital was a blow for the independence movement. The Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), the most pro-independence party, only won 11% of the city’s vote.

The results of Ciudadanos did not live up to expectations. While Podemos’s support had been waning, that for Ciudadanos was continuously rising. Like Podemos, however, Ciudadanos will be the kingmaker in some areas, particularly those where the PP won the most votes but not an absolute majority. Until two years ago, Ciudadanos was hardly known outside its base in Catalonia where it was formed in 2006 to counter, among other things, the growing movement for that region’s independence.

Overall, the results confirmed what the opinion polls have been saying for some time now: Spain’s two-party system is set to take a beating in a four horse race when a general election is held by the end of this year.

Whereas the 2011 municipal and regional elections saw landslide victories by the PP in cities and heralded its routing of the Socialists in that year’s general elections, this time round the municipal and regional elections suggest a very fragmented parliament when the next general election is held by the end of the year.

An extrapolation of the municipal results shows a national parliament with the PP holding 132 of the 350 seats, 54 fewer than now, the Socialists with 119 (nine more), Podemos 16 and five other parties including Ciudadanos with between 10 and 14 seats each. If this proves to be the case, the national parliament could well face the same deadlock as in Andalusia where the Socialists won the March 22 snap election in that region but more than two months later have still been unable to form a majority government after three attempts.

In order to better understand the current political situation, you need to know something about the current state of play in Spain’s economic crisis triggered by the contagion from the subprime mortgage crisis in the US and its impact on Spain’s unsustainable economic model, excessively based on bricks and mortar. The number of housing starts in Spain in 2006, at the height of the illusionary boom, was 865,000 – more than Germany, France and Italy combined. The massive property bubble burst in 2008 – house prices have fallen by more than 35% since then. The number of housing starts plummeted to 35,000 last year. Today, Spain has around 500,000 unsold new homes – roughly the equivalent of two years’ shortfall in the UK- as against one million when the crisis broke. While this country has a dearth of housing, Spain has a glut. Perhaps a deal could be struck between the two countries, under which Spain would ship its empty homes to the UK in return for the UK returning Gibraltar to Spain.

A typical example of the property fiasco was the Residencial Francisco Hernando near Madrid, which was intended to triple the population of Seseña in the dry plains of Castile with 13,500 flats. Billed as the Manhattan of La Mancha, the home region of Don Quixote, only around 2,500 had been sold by the time the property bubble burst. Mr. Hernando, the developer, was as deluded as Don Quixote.

The credit-fuelled construction madness was not only confined to the building of houses. Too many airports were also built during the decade-long economic fiesta when the country lived beyond its means. Take the emblematic case of Castellón, one of several ghost airports. Carlos Fabra, a Popular Party cacique, opened the airport in 2011 even though it did not have all the permits to operate. Amazing as it may sound, he justified this on the grounds that “anyone who wants can visit the runway, the terminal and the control tower and walk around them, something they could not do if aircraft were taking off.”

There is a 24 metre high copper statue to Fabra at the entrance to the airport. The Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy had lauded Fabra in 2008 as “an exemplary citizen and politician”, words he lived to regret after becoming prime minister at the end of 2011. Ryanair will begin to operate the first scheduled flights in four years from Castellón in September. Fabra is serving a four year jail sentence for tax fraud: his case took a staggering 10 years to come to trial, epitomising another problem – the snail’s pace at which the politicized judiciary moves.

Credit was cheap, thanks to Spain belonging to the euro zone. At one stage interest rates were negative as Spain’s inflation was higher than the cost of borrowing, encouraging people and companies to borrow as if there was no tomorrow. The one size fits all monetary policy of the European Central Bank was not appropriate for Spain.

With the collapse of the property sector with its big knock-on effect and massive unemployment, loan defaults soared. The non-performing loans of all of Spain’s banks jumped from a negligible 0.7% of total credit in 2006 to a peak of 13.6%, and that figure excludes the toxic property assets of bailed out banks placed in the “bad bank” known as Sareb, which made a loss of €585 million last year.

Many of Spain’s 42 savings banks, known as cajas, – were mortally wounded by the bursting of the property bubble. Regionally based, not listed on the stock market and run by boards packed with political appointees, they fell over one another to make loans. Their number has been reduced to eight today. The collapse of Bankia, the fourth largest bank and the product of the merger of seven ailing cajas, led to a €42 billion EU bailout, which was exited last year.

When the lopsided economy went into recession in 2009 jobs began to be shed almost as quickly as they had been created. Those of you who know your Spanish history will remember that the influx of silver and gold from Spain’s colonies in the 17th century ruined the economy, as it lulled the country into a false sense of financial security, stoked inflation and caused the currency to appreciate. The latter day and illusory variant of this wealth was the construction sector.

Spain’s construction sector was also the equivalent of the massive discovery of North Sea oil by Holland in 1959 that led to the expression Dutch disease. Over dependence on the booming construction sector lured labour away from other potentially more sustainable sectors such as manufacturing, fuelled domestic demand and so sucked in imports and eroded competitiveness and hence exports.

The jobless rate soared from a post-Franco historic low of 8% in 2007 (a high rate by UK standards but in Spain regarded as full employment) to a peak of 26% in 2013 and today has inched down to around 23%. Four Spanish regions out of a total of 272 in the European Union are among the 10 regions with the highest unemployment rates. Of the 3.5 million jobs lost since 2008, 1.7 million came from the construction sector alone. You may well ask what holds Spain together. The short answer is the extended family and the informal economy.

As the economy roared along, so more and more students dropped out of school at 16 when they completed their basic obligatory education to work in construction. During the boom, the salaries of unskilled labour rose at a much faster rate than those of skilled workers. If education does not pay why stay on at school?

In 2009, the early school-leaving rate peaked at 31% of those aged between 18 and 24, more than double the European Union average. The rate was on a downward trend until the year 2000. The figure is now 22%, still very high. Students have no option but to stay on at school.

Not only is unemployment still very high, but also 20.7% of those aged between 15 and 29 are not in employment, education or training. In 2012, this figure was 26%. These neets as they are called form a “lost generation”. They are so poorly qualified that their prospects of finding meaningful employment are slim, and the creation of a more knowledge-based economy is something of a pipedream.

Construction-related corruption has been rife among politicians, especially at the municipal level with re-zoning and building permits, fertile ground for greasing palms. It is no coincidence that the regions with the most intense construction booms, such as the former PP-controlled Valencia, were the ones where corruption flourished the most. More than 800 town halls (10% of the total) today are under investigation and several thousand people have been accused in corruption cases.

Corruption has been particularly rampant in Valencia, where the PP still won the most votes but far from an absolute majority. Around 50 indicted politicians sought re-election in that region, even as they prepared to appear before courts in cases mostly related to the mishandling of public money, despite the PP leader of Valencia, Alberto Fabra, drawing what he called a ‘red line’ under years of corruption. In one notorious case, Alfonso Rus, was suspended from the PP three weeks before the election after a tape was released in which he was heard talking about commissions for the building of social housing and counting money. Rus defied the PP and ran for re-election as mayor of Xàtiva and was beaten by the Socialists.

Spain finally fell into line with the rest of the European Union at the end of last year when its first ever Transparency Law came into effect. The new law – almost 40 years after the end of the Franco dictatorship – only operates at the state level (it will be extended to municipal and regional levels, where most corruption occurs, this December).

The construction boom lured more than 4 million foreigners to Spain between 1998 and 2008. No other country in Europe received so many immigrants per capita in the 10 years before the crisis. When I first came to Spain in 1974 I was one of 165,000 foreigners. Today, I am one of 5 million, and that figure excludes naturalised Spaniards. Spain’s foreign-born population represents around 11% of the total population, almost the same as the UK, but Spain, to its credit, does not have a UKIP style party.

The Popular Party, which ousted the Socialists at the end of 2011, has implemented the severest austerity measures in Spain’s post-Franco democracy. It has raised income tax and VAT rates, in order to reduce the budget deficit, and injected more flexibility into a still rigid labour market. As in this country, spending cuts are weakening the welfare state. The annual rise in pension payments is no longer linked to inflation and the retirement age is gradually being put back from 65 to 67. This is a sensible reform: Spaniards are living longer (the average life expectancy is 83 years, one year more than we Brits).

The economy is finally growing – by around 2.9% this year, higher than the UK though the pre-crisis GDP level has yet to be restored – but the jobless rate will not drop below 20% until 2017. The Roman Catholic charity Caritas distributed food, clothes and help to 2.5 million people (one in 20 Spaniards) last year.

It is not surprising that there is a lot of tangible anger in Spain: at corruption, at the crony capitalism of amigotes, at the established political class (an extractive elite to use a term gaining popularity), at growing inequality and at the impact of the economic crisis. As for enchufismo and nepotism (the negative side of the otherwise admirable importance given to the family), the head of the Tribunal de Cuentas, the Court of Auditors, had to explain himself to a parliamentary committee after it was discovered that around 100 of the 700 employees were related to the Tribunal’s current and former senior management and to its trade union representatives. In another case, the PP’s cacique in Orense, José Luis Baltar, was disqualified from public office for nine years after he personally appointed 104 people to the Diputación Provincial which he headed for 25 years and which is now run by his son. If Spain were a meritocracy, the chairman of Madrid’s failed bid to host the Olympic Games in 2020, a post where speaking English is vital, would not have got the job. He responded to a question in English last September by the International Olympic Committee at the crucial meeting to decide the winning country with the words, “No listen the ask”, a peculiar way of saying he did not hear the question put to him.

One of the main defects of Spain’s democracy is the colonization by the two main parties of institutions, including the governing body of the judiciary and the Court of Auditors. This has deprived Spain of an effective system of checks and balances and led to a considerable degree of impunity.

When Chris Huhne, the former UK energy minister, resigned from the Cabinet and gave up his parliamentary seat, after he was accused and then found guilty of perverting the course of justice for asking his then wife to take three speeding points, Spaniards were gobsmacked to put it mildly. Nothing remotely approaching that happens in Spain and for far worse offences.

Unlike in the UK, which has also had a banking crisis, very few executives in Spain have lost their jobs for poor management or worse. Spain is a long way from the situation in the City of London where nearly 6,000 bankers, brokers and financial advisers have been sacked or suspended for misconduct since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, according to the Financial Conduct Authority. In the case of Rodrigo Rato, the former head of the IMF and chairman of Bankia, whose near collapse triggered an EU bail out, he and 32 other Bankia executives appeared in court to face an ongoing fraud inquiry at the end of 2012, but since then little has happened. Moreover, although under investigation (imputado in Spanish), Rato was appointed an advisor to Telefonica in January 2013 and to Banco Santander in September of that year, something I believe would not happen in this country if only for ethical reasons. Santander got rid of Rato last November (and all other international advisors) and last April Rato threw in the towel at Telefónica after being embroiled in other court cases.

Political reform is badly needed, particularly of the closed-list system in elections that gives so much power to a party’s apparatus at the expense of accountability, and makes politicians sycophantic. Under the closed-list system, as opposed to the open list, voters vote for the whole list of a party’s candidates. Candidates are elected to parliament in the order they appear on the list (as decided by the party) until all the seats have been filled.

Podemos was born out of the grassroots movement of los indignados (the indignant one), which grabbed world headlines four years ago this month when thousands of mainly young people occupied the Puerta del Sol square in the heart of Madrid and set up camp for a month (and, incidentally, inspired the Occupy Wall Street movement).

The most memorable slogan to come out of the movement of the indignant ones was that shouted in front of Spain’s parliament when protestors waved loaves of bread above their heads and screamed: “There isn’t enough bread for so many chorizos!” A chorizo is a swindler or cheat and not just a spicy sausage, often sliced and served in a bocadillo.

Podemos is a fascinating phenomenon and you should not draw too many parallels with its ally Syriza, which won Greece’s election in January. For a start, Spain’s crisis is nowhere near as profound as that in Greece, which is the nearest we have to a failed state in Europe.

Podemos became a political party in January 2014 and stunned Spain’s political establishment as well as itself by winning 1.2 million votes (8% of the total) in last May’s European election and five seats in the parliament in Brussels. The turnout in European elections is always much lower than in national elections (it was 43% on this occasion). Podemos captured voters from across the political spectrum in this election, mainly from the Socialists and even the Popular Party, but also from United Left, the revamped communist party. For the first time the Popular Party and the Socialists captured between them less than 50% of the total votes in an election.

Voters who deserted the traditional parties in the latest elections are all united by their disgust at a political, business and banking establishment that Podemos has successfully labelled la casta (the cast), although that is not to say they identify wholeheartedly with the two upstart parties. A majority of Podemos sympathisers, for example, see this party as far more radical than themselves. Nevertheless they voted for Podemos.

Disaffection is accompanied by a desire for generational change.
Podemos is led by the 36-year-old pony-tailed and media-savvy Pablo Iglesias, a political science lecturer at Madrid’s Complutense University, while Albert Rivera, the Ciudadanos leader, is 35. Pedro Sánchez, the Socialists’ new leader since last year, is 43. Rajoy is 60.

Iglesias is named after the man who founded the Socialist Party in 1879. His parents first met at a remembrance ceremony in front of Iglesias’s tomb in Madrid’s main cemetery.

The faculty of political sciences is well known for its long-standing commitment to far-left ideology. Iglesias was a member of the Communist Youth Union of Spain, part of the anti-globalisation movement and an admirer of Venezuela’s autocratic and economically populist Hugo Chávez and other radical Latin American leaders such as Rafael Correa of Ecuador and Evo Morales of Bolivia. He still lives in a modest flat in Vallecas, one of Madrid’s poorest areas, on a graffiti-daubed 1980s estate of apartment blocks. “Defend your happiness, organize your rage,” reads one graffiti slogan.

Iglesias wrote his PhD thesis on disobedience and anti-globalisation protests and was awarded a cum laude grade. He was deeply influenced by Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Marxist thinker who argued that a key battle was over the machinery that shaped political opinion. Iglesias also found inspiration in the works of the Argentine academic Ernesto Laclau who worked at the University of Essex and those of his Belgian wife Chantal Mouffe (now at the University of Westminster). Laclau and Mouffe argued that the socialist should no longer focus on class warfare, but seek to unite discontented groups against a clearly defined enemy, usually the establishment. One way of doing this was through a charismatic leader – and Iglesias is certainly a spellbinding orator, having honed his technique with a presenter’s course at the academy of the state television RTVE and some theatre work. As of January 2013 Iglesias has a programme called Fort Apache on HispanTV, a Spanish language TV channel operated by IRIB, Iran’s state-owned public broadcasting corporation. Fort Apache opened with Iglesias astride a Harley Davidson Sportster motorbike, placing a helmet over his head and – after a close-up of his eyes – slinging a massive crossbow across his back before roaring off. “Watch your head, white man. This is Fort Apache!” he warned in the trailers.

Iglesias has become something of a rock star. Everyone knows who is “el coletas” (the pony-tailed one).

Podemos advocates direct democracy. Its use of transparency websites (detailing all spending, including salaries), voting tools and online debate is already cutting-edge. Its Plaza Podemos debating site regularly attracts between 10,000 and 20,000 daily visitors. The party has cleverly listened to the voice of discontent in the street and repackaged it and transmitted it
to a wider audience.

Podemos’ economic programme began with radical demands for a 35-hour workweek, a guaranteed basic income for the needy, retirement at 60, laws to prevent profitable companies from firing people, a fairer distribution of wages, abolishing private hospitals in order to have a fully state-controlled health care system and a restructuring of Spain’s debt with its international lenders.

Realising that much of this is not practical and potentially alienating some voters, Podemos has ditched these policies and engineered a U-turn, moving its economic policy toward Nordic style social democracy. Whereas Venezuela used to be the solution to the problem of Spain, now it is Denmark. The electorate as a whole, however, still identifies Podemos as the extreme left.

The party’s star measure is a commitment to stop evictions of families who in ‘good faith’ are unable to keep up with their mortgage payments. This has been a big social problem.

This U-turn opened the first cracks in Podemos and led Juan Carlos Monedero, the party’s chief ideologue and one of its founders, to quit the leadership after accusing the party of sacrificing its principles in its bid to win power.

Monedero, incidentally, has been implicated in tax abuses, which was particularly bad news for the party given its narrative presenting itself as the “clean” alternative to the old corrupt elites.

Monedero rather maliciously calls Spain’s successful but not perfect transition to democracy the “regime of 1978”, in allusion to the democratic constitution of that year. For Spaniards the term regime is associated with the Franco regime.

As well as the transition, Podemos has also put the institution of the monarchy under scrutiny. The abdication of King Juan Carlos last year in favour of his son Felipe triggered demonstrations in favour of restoring the republic that was defeated in 1939 at the end of the Civil War. The republic had been declared in 1931 when Juan Carlos’s grandfather, Alfonso XIII, went into exile after municipal elections showed support for a republic. Franco appointed Juan Carlos his successor in 1969 and he took over as head of state in 1975. The monarchy was the problem in 1931, as it was an obstacle to democracy, and in 1975 the solution, as it was the motor of change.

Spain, in my view, has far more important problems to resolve than the form of its state. A Felipe González or a José María Aznar, former prime ministers, would, as presidents, not be above the political fray in very partisan Spain as much as a Juan Carlos was or his son Felipe VI is proving to be. Felipe enjoys high approval ratings – far higher than those of any other public figure.

Pablo Iglesias broke with protocol when he met King Felipe last month during his visit to the European Parliament and gave him the DVD of the first series of Game of Thrones. Iglesias said he chose this particular series because it depicted an “old world falling apart. The conflicting interests of the various families have plunged the kingdoms into misery, violence and sadness. In this panorama, new leaders, new armies, appear from beyond the established frontiers to make their challenge with new options, new ways of relating to a people tired of so many wars.” It was not a very subtle message.

Ciudadanos is a Catalonia-based centre-right party created nine years ago that came to the notice of wider Spain as of 2012 when it opposed the movement in the region for a separate Catalan state, which culminated last November with the holding of an illegal referendum. The party’s influence spread rapidly outside Catalonia, particularly among those who previously voted for the Popular Party and are looking for an alternative. This is not the first time a centrist Catalan based party has aspirations in all of Spain. Miquel Roca’s Partido Reformista Democrático fielded candidates in the 1986 election and won less than 1% of the vote and no seats in the Cortes. The party was quickly dissolved.

Ciudadanos’s leader Alberto Rivera summed up the differences between Ciudadanos and Podemos by saying that whereas his party wants justice, Podemos wants revenge. If one believes that, then last Sunday’s election would appear to show that revenge has won out over justice as Podemos, running in various guises, did better than Ciudadanos.

Podemos attracts votes from those hit the hardest by the crisis, particularly those under the age of 35, while Ciudadanos’ supporters are better off but equally critical of the two-party system and the corrupt and ossified elites. Podemos is engaging in transversal politics –seeking ways to cross and possibly redraw borders that mark politicised differences – while Ciudadanos has been more specific in forging its own profile.

The rise of Podemos is something of a paradox as it would appear to suggest that Spain is moving radically leftward, but this is refuted by the ideological self-placement scale which over the last 20 years has hardly ever dropped below 4.5 where 5.0 is the center (10 extreme right and 0 extreme left). The average indicator is currently 4.7 compared to 4.9 in December 2011 when the last general election was held. Spaniards do not want a rupture with the recent past – which despite its defects is still the best phase of Spain’s history in terms of prosperity and peaceful co-existence.

Rivera believes that one of Spain’s main problems is that the country has drifted rudderless and not had a project that unites the country and moves it towards a shared goal since the previous Popular Party government of José María Aznar. Adolfo Suárez, the prime minister after the death of Franco in 1975, engineered the transition to democracy, Felipe González, the Socialist prime minister between 1982 and 1996, began the modernization of the economy and gained Spain’s entry into the European Union, and Aznar made Spain one of the founder members of the euro zone.

Ciudadanos is pro-business. Its chief economic advisor is Luis Garicano, a professor at the LSE. The party would invest less in infrastructure, particularly the high-speed train network, and more in education and R&D. This is sensible. Being trapped in a monstrous traffic queue on the M3 and M25 last month for four hours when I drove from Exeter to Gatwick, brought home to me how superior Spanish transport infrastructure is to the UK’s. Spain, however, has spent far too much on public works – the source of much corruption – at the expense of education.

The party would take a tougher line on tax evasion and fraud, do more to train the unemployed, seek to reduce the differences between insiders (those with permanent contracts) and outsiders (those with temporary contracts) in the labour market and encourage migrants with certain skills to come to Spain. Ciudadanos proposes the introduction of a so-called single contract whereby workers would gain protection rights gradually, instead of the existing dual system of contracts with high and low levels of protection. Ciudadanos is also in favour of a greater separation of Church and State in Spain.

Until the arrival of Ciudadanos, Unión Progresso y Democracia (UPyD), founded in 2007, was the party that attracted those discontented with the political elite. UPyD won five seats in the Spanish parliament in 2011, but has failed to live up to expectations and did very badly in last week’s elections, winning only 0.15% of votes in the municipal elections compared to Ciudadanos’s 6.5%. Riven by personality differences and the authoritarian leadership of Rosa Diez, UPyD voters moved in droves to Ciudadanos. The logic would be for the two parties to have merged before the elections as ideologically they are basically in tune with one another. Each side blames the other for the failure to do this. Diez resigned as UPyD leader this week.

She founded UPyD after Zapatero beat her in the primary to lead the Socialist party. She is thus identified with the discredited past, whereas Rivera is associated with the future and something new.

If the voter intention polls turn out to be correct at the general election, and they were pretty accurate for last Sunday’s elections, then no party would be able to form a government on its own. The options would be a minority government, a coalition, or deadlock as in Andalucia which is what worries many people.

Spain has had two experiences of minority governments in the last 30 years, one in 1993 with the Socialists and the other in 1996 with the Popular Party, both involving the Catalan CiU, but never a coalition. I believe I am right in saying Spain is the only country in the European Union not to have had a coalition government in the last 40 years. About 75% of those polled by Metroscopia in April said they did not want a party system dominated by the PP and the Socialists, and only 25% would support a German-style ‘grand coalition’ between these two parties. About 70% think the party that wins the most votes should be allowed to form a government.

A complex formula ensures that any party that does not reach 25% of the votes will be under-represented in parliament, while the rules ensure that regionalist parties are well represented at the national level. These factors could constrain Ciudadanos and Podemos in the general election. They both have time, however, to boost their support.

The Popular Party still hopes that the gradual upturn in the economy and job creation, albeit mainly precarious jobs, will swing voters around to the party at the polls, as it did in the UK, although I would not draw too many comparisons between the Conservatives’ victory and the PP’s chances of also being re-elected, as some PP leaders were quick to do. Miriam González, the Spanish wife of Nick Clegg, wrote in El País last week – in a reference to the fear factor played up by Cameron and Rajoy – that she knew of no other party that considered a jobless rate of more than 20% and youth unemployment of more than 50% a definitive argument for winning an election.

Adapting the Chinese proverb, Spain is living interesting times.