Real World Challenges
Edited by Tina Søreide and Aled Williams
Chapter 10: Transport infrastructure failures in Spain: mismanagement and incompetence, or political capture?
Although Spain ranks remarkably well in international comparisons in terms of access to transport infrastructures, it does not seem to meet demand, leading to well-documented mismatches between demand and supply. This is a recurring hot political theme in Spain as in many other countries, developed and developing. The consequences are costly, unfair and unsustainable in the current context of economic crisis. So whatís the problem?This chapter argues that bad governance, capture and political interests, rather than incompetence, are the main drivers of supplyñdemand mismatches. The current state of transport infrastructure is above all the result of a strong political will to maintain Madrid as the centre of distribution of the economic benefits of all decisions on transport infrastructure investment.1While it is fair for elected politicians to use their mandate to make tough decisions, it would be just as fair to make sure that they do not ignore the high economic and social costs for the country (Albalate and Bel, 2011; Bel, 2011, 2012; Bel and Fageda, 2011; De Rus, 2011). Moreover, there are reasons to suspect that key private actors have captured some policy decisions. The high concentration and strong political leverage of construction companies specializing in infrastructure have fuelled the sectorís overinvestment and high fiscal costs. This interference with the planning and implementation of key decisions in the sector has not reached the outrageous levels of corruption cases documented in urban development projects, but the consequences are no less dramatic for Spain.
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