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Ireland and Spain September 20, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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I was intrigued by this piece here by a Joe Haslam who is an associate professor in business studies in Spain. He’s some sharp words for the Irish government in relation to the Apple tax issue suggesting that the way in which EU states view that particular issue is not positive, and in particular the absurdly swift response by the government to stand foursquare with Apple on it.

He makes another point…

There is no great Boston or Berlin debate in Spain. Rich and poor alike expect high-quality public services in health, education and transport. Many people who have private healthcare through their employer prefer to use the public system. Similarly, many parents I know send their children to public school, dismissing any notion that private is automatically better.
While centre-right politicians here express their admiration for (and even name streets after) Margaret Thatcher, they do not share her antipathy towards the role of the state. Over the last five years the government lead by prime minister Mariano Rajoy has cut education and health spending by €16 billion. At just over 1 per cent of GDP it is not an insignificant figure but he did not dare to cut it by more.

Is that accurate? Is the right constrained to any degree in this way? My reading of the PP was that they – or sections of them, certainly bought into neoliberalism fairly heavily. I’d be interested in the observations of anyone on the ground.

And a comment BTL asks, quite pertinently whether Noonan lost his mind over the issue and in particular linking the 12.5% corporation tax rate to it given that the Apple deal was bespoke?

Comments»

1. Richard - September 20, 2016

The Partido Popular has always relied on support from sectors of Spanish society who depend on public services and pensions. Whatever the belief in neoliberalism on the part of its membership and ruling figures (and it is as strong as in any right-wing party in Europe), it has been pragmatic in presenting itself as the ‘sensible’, ‘serious’, ‘responsible’ party of power, an image that has particular appeal to people who fear -stemming from an often eye-poppingly aggressive right-wing press and cultural apparatus- that handing over the reins of power to the left for any length of time would turn the place into Cuba and Venezuela.

When the PSOE lost the general elections back in 2011, the Partido Popular promised to protect pensions, to fix the issues in the public health system, and so on. A remark you often hear in Spain, particularly from people in their 60s upward, is that ‘Franco created the social security system’. Typically -but not exclusively- these are people who would vote for the Partido Popular. It is not that they have any great gratitude to Franco, it is more a reflex response to any kind of argument from the left, as if to say that what there is (the rather meagre welfare state) has nothing to do with popular struggles from the left but rather with the right kind of astute, ‘sensible’, ‘serious’ rule, exercised from above. But I think that Joe Haslam is right, that such supporters would be unlikely to persist with the PP if it were to be even more aggressive and open about attacking the welfare state.

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2. Gewerkschaftler - September 20, 2016

I don’t know enough about the PP but my guess is that graft and clientelism are at least as important as neo-liberalism in it makeup, if not its ideology.

That and the fact that is the party favoured by the Francoist traditional voters.

All I can say that in Germany the failure to take the 13 billion from Apple (who are in no danger of going bankrupt as a result) was greeted generally with disbelief and head-scratching. I ended up having to explain FF/FGs/Labours instinctive cringe toward transnational capital again and again.

It didn’t do a great deal positive for stereotypes about the Irish either.

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3. Joe - September 20, 2016

Heard a good one the other day. When asked to choose between Boston or Berlin the Irish government chose… Barbados.

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4. ejh - September 21, 2016

While Joe knows a lot more about Spain and Spanish politics than I do, I’m not sure he’s entirely right about education – quite a lot of generally middle-class parents do send their children to concertados which while largely state-funded are partially dependent on parental fees. As you’d probably guess they tend to have a religious ethos.

I don’t work in them often but I don’t really have any reason to think you get a better educaton for your child there: it’s basically about the fear that your kid will be brought down by the horrid kids, as well as (to some degree) parents genuinely wanting a religious educational environment.

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6to5against - September 21, 2016

That’s interesting. A bit like the fee-paying sector here: state funded, but with enough of a fee to keep the classes small and the riff-raff out. And to pay for the rugby coaching, of course….

I had thought that this was a uniquely Irish phenomenon.

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5. Paul Wilson - September 29, 2016

Certainly here in the Canaries the PP have not been able to push the Neo Liberal agenda as far as they would undoubtedly like to. This is partly due to an alliance between the PSOE and the Canarian Regional Party in the Regional Assembly and the obvious fact that island economies and tourism depend to a large extent on public spending. There is also the status of the islands as a peripheral region of the EU.

As a result of these factors, transport systems are still in the public sector, water is subsidised and sales tax is far below the EU norms.

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