Finance Minister Luis de Guindos and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (photo archive). (Efe)
“In difficult and worrisome times, responsible politicians cannot hide, they must take the lead,” Spain’s Finance Minister Luis de Guindos said in the parliament on Monday, when the risk premium rocketed and the government banned short-selling Spanish equities for three months, while fear rose that a complete intervention of the Spanish economy will be the only solution.
De Guindos words, which were meant to apply to his own appearance in the parliamentary commission for economy, however, quickly turned against Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, often criticized for his absence and silence in public.
Despite the intensified rumors about an intervention of the economy, the prime minister has not change his agenda and his only public appearance on Monday was a meeting with the Spanish athletes who will participate in the Olympic games.
While he was the leader of the opposition, Rajoy was repeatedly criticized for his strategy to hide. Since he came to power in December 2011, and despite the country’s difficult economic situation, he has continued with these evasive manners.
Meeting with Olympic team
Despite the increased pressure on the economy on Monday, the prime minister only appeared in public to meet with the Olympic team, which travels to London this week, and give a speech to them, telling them that the same values apply to the government as in sports in times of crisis: “When athletes are injured, they often have to do many things; it takes effort to recover. Sometimes, they feel discouraged, but they get over it immediately. This is exactly what we will also do: work, make efforts, be dedicated and give our best to get through the situation.”
In a similar way, he decided to travel to Poland to see one of Spain’s games in the European championship when the banking rescue was being agreed, saying before he left that “the situation has been resolved.”
Last Thursday, he did not participate in the parliamentary debate about the new round of austerity measures until it was time to vote, which meant Budget Minister Cristóbal Montoro had to defend the new policies against the leader of the Socialist party, Alberto Pérez Rubalcaba, without the prime minister being present.
Few appearances in parliament
There are plenty of more examples of his public absence. In fact, Rajoy has only appeared in the parliament when there has been a legal requirement, either in the government’s control sessions or to inform about European summit agreements.
The announcements of key policy changes, as well as the messages to calm people regarding the rumors about an intervention, he leaves to his ministers or directly to the Official State Bulletin, where new laws are published.
Given the prime minister’s silence, De Guindos was the one who denied the possibility of an intervention, saying that “Spain has the capacity to grow” and to be “competitive in the world,” which makes it different from other rescued countries. “Spain is a solvent country,” he said.
It was clear yesterday, however, that the markets have not eased the pressure, and ignore the latest reforms and the expenditure ceiling for 2013. The risk premium closed at 632 basis points, after having reached 641, the yields on Spanish bonds remain high, and experts agree that the only solution is an intervention by the European Central Bank in order to reduce the interest rates.
The government, and the governing Popular party, seem to have given in to this idea or to wait for the rescue with resignation.
This article was translated and edited by Stina Lunden.
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