Only 77 years ago, this country was so politicised, it broke out in a civil war notable for its medieval ferocity and cruelty. Now, despite 4 years of deprivation and in the face of at least another year of the same it's so depoliticised that no one expects serious protest, let alone violence. With employment heading for 27%, why is this? I have to confess I don't know. What I observe is that there's a ubiquitous sense of resignation. And perhaps a fear that, when it's all over and things slowly start to get a little better, the shine will not only have been taken off the phoney boom years but several before that as well. Spain, in other words, will have gone backwards. By some way. And no amount of gloss will hide this.
As one searches for reasons why the Spanish haven't mobilised against their corrupt politicians and their thieving bankers and businessmen, one also senses they are held back by a feeling they were complicit in the madness of the euro-driven boom. Yes, the bankers offered them mortgages of 140,000 on properties costing only 80,000 but it wasn't obligatory to join in the feeding frenzy that was the lending boom No one really needs two flats, let along three or four. Or an Audi instead of a Ford. There was a lot of greed. As in any Ponzi scheme. And now it's time to confess and seek absolution through the calvario of the recession-cum-depression. With patience and, as I say, fatalistic resignation.
Stepping back and looking briefly at Spanish institutions, it's a wasteland:-
The monarchy: Thanks to the antics of a womanising and insensitive king, its popularity has sunk.
The national government: Out for itself. Guilty of egregious errors in the past and incapable of remedying them other than by tax rises. On anything and everything.
The provincial governments: Superfluous and expensive.
Regional governments: Corrupt and expensive.
The Courts: Manipulated by the Executive. Too fond of pardoning crooks.
The police: Damaged by incidents of gratuitous violence in the streets of Madrid.
The Guardia Civil: Possibly OK.
The armed forces: Possibly the only solution to remain unsullied, if we can forget about Perejil.
So, who's to blame for this mess, even if it hasn't pushed Spain to the verge of another civil war? Well, again I don't know and I doubt one party can be fingered with confidence. But I do suspect that no one in Brussels had the slightest idea what would inevitably happen in a country like Spain (and Portugal and Greece) when the reins were loosened and full vent was give to the country's 'structural differences'. Likewise, I don't think anyone knew what 'internal devaluation' really meant. It may sound nice in a chapter in an economics book but here on the ground it means misery for people who were in no way responsible for the madness of 2002 to 2007. While those who made millions keep them stashed in Andorra, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein and Switzerland.
And if the objective, as some have said, was forced convergence, then this seem to me to have been a conspicuous failure. Spain is even further away for the likes of Germany than it ever was. And it has no hope of getting there for at least 20 years.
There's no talk here of Spain leaving the EU but, if they were to be offered a referendum on membership now, it wouldn't surprise me if a recommendation for departure wasn't confined to the Galician National Party, the BNG. Last time they felt the EU wasn't socialist enough. This time they might be joined by others with additional reasons.
It isn't going to happen, of course. All we can do is wait and see how the Spain looks when the recession/depression is finally over in, say, 2015.
Final note: Spanish regional politicians took 6 weeks off over Xmas and New Year. Probably a good thing, if it helped to keep the costs down.