Like the dark guy with the horns in the picture, I'm getting out of the bullring. Last October I promised an essay here on Spain every week, originally on Fridays and later on Sundays, just as though I were still a working journalist getting paid to meet deadlines. It was kind of fun as an experiment, and maybe good discipline, even though I was late a couple of times, and last week missed altogether. Now after about two dozen of of those almost-weekly essays, I've managed to touch most of the topics in Spain that most puzzled me and I'm releasing myself from that commitment. From now on, back to occasional reflections, on Spain or other things, as they occur to me and I have the time to develop them.
But first, a note on things to watch for in this country. The recently re-elected socialist government has had enormous luck in facing such stupendously clumsy opposition on the right and disorganization of the smaller forces to its left (especially the internecine battles of IU), but sooner or later the Partido Popular or some successor is going to pull itself together to attack its real vulnerabilities. First of all, the huge and sudden plunge in the construction industry and everything related, producing what the government calls a "profound deceleration" rather than a “crisis” -- but means record unemployment and mortgage rates. Not the government's fault, but it is their responsibility, and the “deceleration” may be deeper and longer than they're prepared for. And the other obvious vulnerability: the Partido Socialista Obrero is currently the only left party in power in Europe (unless you consider Gordon Brown "left," and consider England "Europe" -- but let's be serious).
To see all the original blog entries on Spain, back to 2003, click on the keyword "Spain" below.