Is Europe Losing Its Soul?
Edited by Daniel Vaughan-Whitehead
Chapter 9: Turning back before arriving? The weakening of the Spanish welfare state
The management of the economic crisis in Spain and, particularly, the emphasis put on reducing the public deficit, is having a dramatic impact on the structure and running of the Spanish welfare state. The resilience shown in previous decades by social policy institutions has suddenly vanished. Owing to the fiscal consolidation driven by the international financial markets and also recommended by the European Commission (and facilitated by the absolute majority obtained by the conservative party – Partido Popular, PP – in December 2011), long-range decisions in the area of social policy are being made without the required debate and consensus. Although the PP ran in the 2011 elections with a political programme that did not seem to aim to alter the social-policy status quo, the measures taken in the first two years of their term of office have questioned many of the bipartisan agreements that built the Spanish welfare state. In any case, the policy of welfare retrenchment predates the conservative government, as in May 2010, with the Social Democrats (Partido Socialista Obrero Espanol – PSOE) in government, reducing the public deficit had become the sole economic policy objective.
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