Spain. According to Countryaah website, national day of Spain is every October 12. Basque separatism continued to create concern and instability in Spain. The Separatist movement ETA carried out a series of explosions in various parts of the country, not least during the first half of the year when Spain was the EU Presidency. The government stepped up its efforts against ETA and a large number of members were arrested, both in Spain and France.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks in the US in the fall of 2001, a bill was drafted banning political parties and groups supporting terrorism. It was considered mainly aimed at Batasuna, formerly Euskal Herritarrok, who is considered ETA’s political branch. Parliament adopted the proposal by a good margin in June and it immediately led to the group’s assets in several banks being blocked.
In early August, a man and a six-year-old girl were killed in a blast on the south coast. Despite strong reactions from the public that a child had fallen victim, Batasuna did not regret what happened but instead accused the government of escalating the conflict.
ETA undertook the act and issued threats against all political parties that would support a party ban. Prime Minister José María Aznar responded by summoning Parliament, which had a summer break, to begin the process of banning Batasuna. That led to a three-year ban on the party and a judge also launched a preliminary investigation of ETA, which was suspected of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The Basque government party PNV sued the judge.
A severe natural disaster occurred in November in the waters off Galicia in northwestern Spain, when an oil tanker lost 25 miles off the coast. The vessel, which sailed under convenience flags, had already leaked about 17,000 out of a total of 77,000 tonnes of fuel oil on board as it sank. It was hoped that the oil would solidify in the cold water at a depth of 3,500 meters, but it soon became apparent that it was slowly leaking out. The oil polluted millions of shorelines and tens of thousands of fishermen and mussel growers became unemployed. Countless fish, birds and marine mammals were brought to life.
The accident triggered sharp criticism of the Spanish government, which had refused to allow the vessel to enter port when it was hit by a crash. Instead, the tanker was towed out to sea where it ended up in very deep water, making it difficult to stop the leak. The accident also sparked debate about the fact that old single-hull oil tankers are still allowed to sail in narrow European shipping lanes.
In May 2012, the rating of a number of Spanish major banks was downgraded to junk status. Government economic policy had sent the economy into recession. The EU announced in June that a 100 billion aid package was ready. € to save the Spanish banks. That only eased the pressure on the Spanish economy, and already in July, ECB President Mario Draghi had to step out and declare that the EU was willing to do “anything” to save the euro. The pressure eased slightly so that the yields on the 10-year Spanish government bonds could remain below 6%. The unemployment rate was 25% on August 12 and the youth unemployment rate was 53%.
In January 2013, the Spanish King’s House announced that Spanish King’s son-in-law Inaki Urdangarin had been suspended from official action after it was revealed that he was involved in a corruption scandal. The case was particularly embarrassing for the royal house as its popularity had dropped drastically in previous years. In April, King’s daughter Cristina was called in to testify in the case.
In January 2013, the Catalan parliament, with 85 votes against 41, adopted a declaration of sovereignty, stating that “the people of Catalonia have – in the context of democratic legitimacy – the character of a political and legal entity”. The Spanish Constitutional Court overturned the statement 4 months later. Despite an ever stronger desire in Catalonia for real independence from Spain, the Spanish central power completely shut down for discussion thereof. The cutting of the democratic process in this field gave way to future deep conflicts between the Spanish central power and the Catalan people.
Also in January, El País published a number of articles about the corruption in the ruling PP government, which had for more than 11 years had a secret economy under its treasurer Bárcenas. Part of this secret economy, based on secret contributions from the Spanish major capital, was channeled over to Rajoy. During the spring, several hundred thousand Spaniards signed the demand for Rajoy to resign. He did not, but in July he was so hard pressed by the scandal that he admitted that it had been “a mistake to blindly trust Bárcenas”. To divert public attention from the corruption scandal, the prime minister instead stirred up a conflict with Gibraltar. Border control was intensified so it took 6-8 hours to get in or out of the colony.
In March, the European Court of Human Rights issued a ruling that Spanish law does not adequately protect owners from being evicted from their homes if they cannot pay their loans. Until then, 350,000 Spanish families had been evicted from their homes since the collapse of the economy in 2008.
In April 2013, unemployment reached 27.2%, while youth unemployment had passed 56%. In June, the IMF declared that the Spanish economy “was on the right track”, but that the government should probably do more to create jobs. In 2012, the economy shrank by 1.2% and the recession continued at least until the third quarter of 2013.
A number of members of the Indignados protest movement founded the left-wing party Podemos in January 2014. Just 4 months later, it ran for the European elections, got 8% of the vote and 5 members elected. Including its chairman, political scientist Pablo Iglesias. The election was a disaster for the ruling PP, which went back 8 seats to 16 and the Social Democratic PSOE which went back 9 seats to 14. In contrast, the Left-wing coalition Izquierda Plural (IP) went 4 mandates up to 6. Podemos continued its progress with storm steps. By the end of the year it had 300,000 members and was in the polls side by side with the ruling PP. The Spanish web population was thoroughly tired of the government’s cutbacks, which did not solve the country’s problems, sent more and more people into poverty,
The rising refugee pressure in the Spanish colonies of Ceuta and Melilla led the Spanish authorities to increase patrolling and aggression towards asylum seekers. In February 2014, 15 refugees died as they tried to reach Ceuta from Morocco. The Spanish National Guard damaged the refugee boat with rubber balls and tear gas. In September, a Melilla judge charged with the local National Guard for summarily sending refugees back to Morocco. Both the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the UN expressed criticism of Spanish practice. In October, the PP government proposed a bill to pave the way for collective and summary deportation of emigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. The proposal was criticized by UNHCR and international human rights organizations.