Spain budget: Corruption, apathy and anger
- 27 September 2012
- From the section Europe
Spain is due to set out its austerity budget for 2013 later, against a backdrop of a deteriorating economy and 25% unemployment rate.
Madrid is expected to outline 39bn euros ($50bn; £31bn) worth of savings, tax rises, and structural reforms.
BBC News website readers in Spain share their views on the current economic situation.
Carmen Belmonte, Madrid, unemployed
I'm a 34-year-old single mum. I have been unemployed for over a year now, I've looked for work over and over again, from cleaning to a telephone operator but have found nothing.
I have been unable to meet all the payments on my house and I'm being threatened with eviction. I get unemployment assistance from the government but that will end next month because the government has annihilated aid to the unemployed.
What will become of me and my daughter? We will end up on the streets, how will we eat? Where will we live? What hope is there? All my life I have worked hard, struggling, paying my taxes, being a worthy citizen, and suddenly I'm not entitled to anything.
There are so many people like me in Spain, with problems that are typical of an underdeveloped country. People do not have jobs and small businesses are plummeting which generates more unemployment and more poverty in general.
Every month there are increases in taxes and the prices of basic supplies such as water and electricity, not to mention gasoline. Food is almost a luxury item.
Politicians are corrupt and all protect each other. The government has vetoed our freedom of expression and detains people for demonstrating. Spain needs economic aid, not to rescue banks but for welfare, to create and promote employment, culture and training, as all aid seems to have been stopped.
The Spanish people did nothing to deserve this. I am currently selling my personal belongings. I want to leave Spain, I'm tired of surviving, I want to regain a decent life for my daughter.
Eva Serrano Navarro, Madrid, works in a school
I am employed but most of my friends between the ages of 20 and 30 are unemployed and stay at home all day.
Spanish people still keep to the traditional nuclear family, where children live with their parents until they are economically independent.
However, the income of young people has been alarmingly reduced so that they might never leave. Some members of the family have to offer them part-time jobs such as housework to make up the costs of them living there.
In order to get a proper job you are forced to go abroad.
Some years ago those who got their degree in higher education were just some lucky people whose parents could afford it. Nowadays, almost every young Spanish person has some university qualification but it is not enough to get a job in Spain now, you have to get either a PhD or a masters, which is too expensive as fees have been raised by almost 100%.
The public demonstrations prove that the Spanish population cannot cope with the unfair and desperate situation anymore. The reforms have had a big impact on our lives and have deeply affected our basic needs: education, medical assistance and even food.
Ignasi Jorro, Cerdanyola del Vallès, unemployed
I am aged 30 and have been out of work for a month because I have just come back home from being abroad. I'm toying with the idea of migrating. The general feeling is one of apathy and widespread anger.
There exists a persistent minority who protest vehemently against each set of cuts implemented both by the central government and regional cabinets (cuts that are in turn rejected by the majority of the population if we trust opinion polls).
However, up and down the country also emerges a sensation of weariness. I am chasing every vacancy going, like jobs as a waiter, carpenter or plumber on the "black economy", which is what enables many people to gain their bread day in, day out.
Three members of my family are currently unemployed: myself, my father and my younger brother. Many people in my neighbourhood rummage through garbage bins looking for something to eat or sell in the black market.
Budget adjustments seem not to work. Curtailing the public deficit has stalled growth, not to mention added unbearable hardship to the vulnerable in society and those dependent on public sector hand outs.
Some regions, such as Catalonia, are now pursuing a break-up from Spain because at the moment it appears inconceivable to sustain state structures which fulfil their duties and look after their citizens.
I oppose a bailout. It may appease financial markets for a while, but further down the line would have strict conditions attached. It would be the last straw and lead to widespread social strife and probably new general elections, where the extreme right may score significant political points.
Maria, Madrid, civil servant
I am a civil servant and work in a ministry. In Spain, if you want to work in the administration you have to pass very hard exams to get the job.
The system is supposed to be used to select people due to their competence but I see very closely how politicians use the administration to give very good jobs to their sons, brothers and sisters.
I have also seen how some colleagues with no experience at all get posts of high responsibility (and a high salary) in the ministry because of their connections. I've heard them in the canteen saying they are bored!
So we have to keep listening to politicians saying the public service is huge and it has to be cut but it is the normal workers who get a reduction, yet the big earners keep carrying on with their business unaffected.
I heard on the radio this week that a kid who brings his own food to school for lunch has to pay about five euros just for it to be looked after yet a member of parliament pays 3.55 euros for a full meal.
Citizens in Spain are angry, fed up of politicians and feel hugely disappointed with the two main parties.
I would say that traditionally we are not anti-EU, and we don't blame the euro for what is happening here, but of course we feel afraid of the rescue, looking at what is going on in Greece.
If we are rescued will Merkel come to Spain to put order in to our corrupted system? I don't think so. She just cares about getting her money back.
Alan Clarke, La Linea de la Conception, self-employed
I am originally from Manchester, England but live in Spain, in La Linea de la Conception. I am an IT consultant and semi-pro poker player. I have some Spanish friends, and Gibraltarian friends, and the current feeling is that Spain is in deep trouble.
The corrupt culture does not help. To get anything done means paying someone off. There is a long and virtually impossible process for anything concerning courts. So, recovery of unpaid taxes, fines and general bills, is very difficult.
This culture is expressed very close to home, where our rent is paid in cash directly to the owner, and so avoiding bank deposits that can be "seen" by the tax authorities.
I am affected very little, as my income is determined by work in Gibraltar. However, shopping in Spain is very cheap, and with the exchange rate generally rising in my favour, the cost of living for me is slowly falling. The only thing that might affect me would be inflation.
The current Spanish government would have to tackle a deep-rooted culture issue around corruption, bribery and a rampant black market. Spain will almost certainly require a bailout. However, they are a very independent people, and would see that as a major embarrassment.
The only other option would be to return to the peseta. This would be great for Gibraltarians, as the value of this devalued Spanish currency would be very favourable indeed.
The euro has been a disaster for everyone other than a small number of eurozone members since the outset. Smaller economies basically deceived their way into the euro, and are now paying the price.
It pains our local Spanish population dearly to see a successful, vibrant economy just across the border in Gibraltar.
Low taxes, extremely low unemployment, high business incentives and a very proud and close "British ex-pat" community, all serves to have avoided most of the economic woes suffered elsewhere in Europe.