Rising Inequalities and Political Cleavages in Spain
WID.world Issue Brief 2019/4
Amory Gethin, Clara Martínez-Toledano, Marc Morgan
This brief looks back at the co-evolution of inequalities and political cleavages in Spain from the 1980s until today, in the context of the upcoming 2019 general election. After two decades of broadly inclusive growth, the economic crisis brought about a new period of stagnation, fiscal austerity, growing poverty and rising income and wealth disparities from which the country has still to recover. Paradoxically, these changes have not come with enhanced class-based divides or greater demands for redistribution. Spanish democracy is, on the contrary, moving towards the identity-based conflicts which are now at the core of political competition in a number of Western countries. In Spain, these divides have focused essentially on regional autonomy and corruption, two issues which are widely discussed in public debates. This stands in contrast to the lower coverage of unemployment, which is still considered as the most important problem by a majority of Spanish citizens, especially by those who were most affected by the crisis.