Suffering from the severe economic consequences of the global crisis, Spain continues to rank among the bottom third in the Status Index.
After a long period (1995-2007) of uninterrupted economic growth and satisfactory improvements in most policy sectors, the subsequent two years of economic problems have hindered the realization of sustainable policy results.
Spain continues to deliver average performance in areas other than economic. The most significant progress was observed in the country’s security standing. Environmental policies have also improved thanks to a stronger focus on renewable energies and the reduction of CO2 emissions.
Despite some severe and persistent shortcomings, the quality of democracy remains stable.
At rank 22, the quality of democracy in Spain remains below average.
Democratic institutions in Spain are stable but suffer from the power of party machines over individual politicians and parliament, inefficient courts and corruption. In addition, the weak presence of interest associations and an underdeveloped knowledge of policy among citizens further weaken democracy in Spain.
Civil rights are generally respected, with some discrimination against women and immigrants noted. Accessing government information can be difficult.
Battered by a collapsing property bubble, Spain’s rating on economic policy fell 10 places relative to the SGI 2009, to rank 28.
In response to the crisis, the government sought to modernize key economic sectors, launch a “sustainable growth” model, and sharply cut public expenditure.
Unemployment has doubled in the last two years, strongly affecting workers in low-skill occupations as well as women and young people. The government has attempted to ease transitions to employment, increase geographic mobility and shorten periods of unemployment.
Decisions concerning tax policy have been strongly influenced by the economic crisis. The budget deficit has by far exceeded the government’s gloomiest projections.
With rising social challenges facing its government, Spain takes rank 22 on issues related to social policy.
Despite serious economic problems and growing social inequalities, public services and welfare programs have successfully averted excessive social unrest.
Health care quality has deteriorated in recent years. Deficiencies are evident in patient rights and preventive care, and regional inequalities persist. Family policy provides little active support for women. The Socialist government has committed itself to an increase in pension expenditures, the largest item on the social budget, by 3.4% to 7.2%.
Illegal immigration flows have diminished, and relatively little xenophobia against current foreign-born residents has been noted despite rising unemployment.
The government voices a strong commitment to multilateralism. Scores in military capability and equipment sophistication are close to the OECD average.
Fears of overextension have been raised by experts and the general population criticizing the deployment of military forces in several international missions with no clear relationship to national interests.
Internal security is stable; the crime rate has dropped and efforts to diffuse the terrorist threat of ETA have been successful since the unfruitful strategy of peace talks have been abandoned.
At rank 25, Spain has devoted increasing attention to the sustainable cultivation of resources, though fiscal constraints may block further improvements.
Research and education policies have at last become real priorities. The new Ministry of Science and Innovation promoted an ambitious national plan on research and innovation, while a variety of measures were aimed at improving educational performance. However, the alleged commitment of the government to foster a new economic model based on brainpower has yet to bear fruit, and recent budget cuts in these areas are worrying.
Environmental results are to some extent positive, with particular gains in the use of renewable energy sources, the decrease in CO2 emissions, and a new regulation limiting building excesses.