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Is Spain different? The political, economic and social consequences of its crisis1

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I apply the well-known slogan ‘Spain is different’ to the consequences of the country’s economic, political and social crisis in order to try to gauge the extent to which the crisis has been different to that in other euro zone countries. The most notable difference is the disproportionate rise in the unemployment rate which more than tripled from a low of 8 per cent in 2007. One major factor behind this is Spain’s economic model, excessively based on the labour-intensive construction sector. The bursting of the property bubble as of 2008 had a huge impact. Other factors are the influx of immigrants: Spain received more immigrants per capita in the ten years before its crisis than any other country except the United States. Many of them worked in construction; indeed without them the boom would not have been possible. Remarkably, Spain does not have a party along the lines of Britain’s UKIP. Political discontent with the two-party system has been largely channelled into the leftist Podemos.
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Keywords: banks; construction; corruption; economic crisis; immigrants

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Real Instituto Elcano

Publication date: June 1, 2015

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  • The International Journal of Iberian Studies (IJIS) is the academic journal for scholars from around the world whose research focuses on contemporary Spain and Portugal from a range of disciplinary perspectives. IJIS is interested in history (20th century onwards), government and politics; foreign policy and international relations.
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