One thing is to have a suspicion that something might be true. Then there is always place for hope. A very different thing is to confirm it badly, what leaves you completely hopeless. And that happened last week.
On Thursday were published in Spanish media the results of the international study of the BBVA Foundation “Values and Worldviews”. The analysis of those results is scaring by itself, but the comparison with the results in other nations is, besides, a shame for Spain. Libertarians/liberals have nothing to do in this country. The best thing they can do is to move abroad.
The survey was done to 15.000 people from ten different countries in Europe between November 2012 and January 2013. These are the main results:
On one side, the Spaniards do not trust at all on the political class. It is the group with the lowest level of confidence in Europe (3 over 10) and specially in Spain (1,5 over 10). On the other side in Spain 81% of the people considers a priority to keep the Welfare State, managed by those politicians who they don´t trust. Everything very coherent. Very Spanish.
Therefore Spaniards are in favor (even in the current economical context) of increased public spending on health (78%), in care for the disabled (75%), elder (73%) and unemployed (69%), in education (65%) and scientific research (62%), in percentages between 10 and 20 points higher than its EU partners. Not to be kept, but to be increased. Only 22% of the Spaniards considers that public budget cuts are a good way out of the crisis.
And who should pay for this? The answer is obvious: the rich. Four each five Spaniards as seen above are in favor of keeping the Welfare State even if this implies rising the taxes. The most popular measures are “to tax more those who earn the most with their investments” (with an average score of 7.7), and to raise taxes “to those with higher income” (a score of 7.1). And who are the rich, the ones with higher income or investment earnings? In the Spanish mindset the rich are “those who earn 1€ more than me”. This is confirmed by the fact that on the other side the increase in VAT it is not supported at all (1.2 points), because, obviously, this is paid by everybody and not only “the rich”. Spaniards want a Welfare State paid by others.
That is the State related part. Now let´s jump to the economic part. Asked on a scale of 0-10 where 0 indicates complete disagreement and 10 full agreement, the Spaniards barely support the idea that the market economy is the most suitable system for the country (5.2 compared to the European average of 6.1), and they are convinced by the fact that “the market economy in the cause of social inequality” (6.6 compared to an average of 6 in Europe).
But it gets worse. When asked if the income of the people should be more balanced, even if it means that those who work harder and those who make less effort would gain similar amounts, 54.7% of the Spanish people interviewed are in favor of the idea. Something unthinkable for the Danes (only 13.8 approve this idea) and far away from the traditional defenders of the welfare state symbols, such as Sweden (31.4) and the Netherlands (19.2). This is of course not going to alleviate the image of Spaniards as lazy party-makers who prefer to enjoy rather than work. Now, besides, they want to get paid for it.
Spain is the most anti-capitalist country in Europe: when having to chose between the two following statements, if “the state should have the primary responsibility in ensuring that all citizens can enjoy a decent standard of living” in opposition to that “each person should be the main responsible in ensuring their own standard of living”, 74.1% of the Spaniards support the former (22% over the European average ) against 11% who support the latter.
Enough? Well, trust me, it still can worsen: Spaniards believe that the State should provide health coverage to all citizens (86%), ensure an adequate pension to retirees (85%), control the profits of banks (77%), guaranteeing the deposits of savers (71%, before the crisis in Cyprus) and 72% that the State should provide decent housing for all citizens (to provide it, not just to guarantee the right to own one). But Spaniards go even further: 65% believe that it is the Government’s role to keep prices under control (!!!), 54% believe that Government should control corporate profit, and up to 50% (one each two!!!) believe that the Government should control wages (!!!!!!!!).
Some media titled, “Spaniards want less market and more State”. That is now very clear. Other compared these results with the reaction of the Spaniards who fought against the French invasion during the early XIX expelling them from the peninsula to welcome back the former King Fernando VII who started one of the ages of worst nepotism and absolutism in the history of Spain. Spaniards welcomed it shouting a known expression “¡Vivan las caenas!” (“long live the chains!”). Spaniards did not change too much since then.
It is not just that Spaniards require (and deserve) serfdom. It is also that they fall in flagrant inconsistencies. Besides of supporting a Welfare State managed by the group with the lowest level of confidence (politicians), they also vote for those who they do not trust at all: for 84% of the Spaniards, Mariano Rajoy (current prime minister) inspires “little or no confidence”. The main leader of the opposition party (Socialist Party) Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba inspires “little or no confidence” to 91% of the Spaniards. However the main two parties that they lead (conservative and socialist party) would still obtain around the 50% of the votes, even with all the corruption cases that have been going around in both parties. Spaniards vote who they don´t trust. Again very coherent. Very Spanish.
If you try to find the reason, you will end up with quite a logical answer: Spaniards are among the least and worst informed people in Europe. The frequency of reading newspapers (key source of information for the authors of the survey) confirms this. 71% of the Swedish read newspapers, both on paper and on the Internet, at least once a day. The Danes do it by 60%, and the Dutch almost in equal percentage. In Spain just 31.9%.
All what has been exposed here was more or less known. The lack of assumption of the responsibility for the consequences of their own actions has been always a characteristic of Spanish people. However now with the crisis it has reached alarming levels. And the Spanish youth is not going to solve this at all. Spanish youth has chosen the way of crying and protesting. Even in the main “slogan” that they have chosen for their protests (“We are not leaving, they are throwing us out”) they remove completely their responsibility part in the decision of moving abroad Spain. They did not make that decision. They are puppets. Dummies. And they love it.
Not in vain, Spaniards consider that they are not responsible for the current crisis. Only 24.9% support this. In Spain, the guilty are always others: banks (94.5%), politicians (95.3%), national governments (90.9%), the leaders of the EU (81.4%), finance companies (87.1%), the European Central Bank (81%), the rating agencies (76%), multinationals (71%) and the IMF (72.7%).
“This shows that more than a Welfare State, Spain socioeconomically craves a totalitarian State to take comprehensively charge of our lives. The same applies to Government intervention in the economy. While in Europe this is limited to social protection in Spain people want the state to control prices, limit corporate profits and wages. Since the “Long live the chains!” in 1814 our progress was just a matter of appearance”.
Sadly I can only agree. And dismiss the hopes to ever go back.