Spain's unemployment rate has officially reached 27%. It's hard to imagine he needed telling but Brussels is reported to have 'ordered' President Rajoy to 'take urgent action' to reduce it. As to what this might be – when Brussels is also dictating austerity – is hard to say. I doubt Sr Rajoy has any more idea than I do. He's preparing to make a major announcement on Friday re (reduced?)pensions so I doubt he's worrying about the job rate right now.
The other big number today was Spain's population. This has fallen for the first time on record. In part, this is due to the departure of some 206,000 of the 4 million immigrants who came here during the carpetbagger years. The outflow can only grow, which might well reduce the unemployment rate.
But it's not all negatives: Here's a valiant attempt by The Local to identify the silver linings hidden deep inside La Crisis, now in its 6th year.
And here's some genuine good news - The minimum age for marriage in Spain has been raised from 14 to 16 as part of government plans to combat child abuse and exploitation. The Social Services minister added that the government also proposes to revise the age of sexual consent from the current 13 years. Not before time.
The phrase 'Brand Spain' has appeared in articles several times over the last month or three. And today it appeared on the first page of what turned out to be a special El País section on the subject of Spain's image abroad. Hard to see why this would be aimed at Spanish readers, but there you go. By coincidence, the findings are out this week of an international poll on 'Brand Spain'. In Germany, it seems, half of the locals don't trust Spaniards, while nearly as many think they're lazy. These are much higher numbers than in the mid 90s. It wasn't all bad news, though - Only 20% of Chinese thought Spain was corrupt, compared to 48% of Germans.
Talking of corruption . . . Hat tip to Lenox for this wonderful quote from a Spanish politician which rather blows the gaffe - 'Politics isn't just about corruption. It's also about public service'. You couldn't make it up. Nor could you be more honest.
I wrote ten days ago that senior government members, in characterising the escraches as 'pure Naziism,' were evincing a peculiar concept of both democracy and Naziism. Here's IberoSphere expanding on this view, opening with:- Leading Spanish conservatives are comparing recent anti-eviction demonstrations with Hitler’s Germany. This betrays a poor grasp of history and weak political acumen. Couldn't agree more.
My community is changing from propane to natural gas. A couple of representatives of the new company came round today to calculate exactly what savings I will make. Or they would have done if neither of them had had a calculator. I lent them mine and we proceeded to work our way through at least 40 pages, which involved around 9 signatures from me. Plus photocopies of my bank details and my Residents' Card. I wonder if anyone back at the office will notice this expired over 2 years ago.
Tomorrow I plan to present my thoughts on the achievements and dis-achievements of the EU/Euro. For now, I'll just report that 72% of Spaniards now say they dislike the EU, which is an astonishing number compared with 6 or 7 years ago. Though some of us back then were predicting things would change. That's even more than in the UK, by the way. But who can blame them?