Spain. According to
COUNTRYAAH, the economic situation continued to be difficult
in Spain even as growth turned up among Europe's other major
economies. The country's credit rating was lowered due to
the high loans. The government launched crisis measures in a
row to reduce the budget deficit: cuts, tax increases,
increased retirement age, lower wages and frozen pensions.
Unemployment remained close to 20 percent. Many were forced
to leave their homes, which resulted in the banks being the
owners of around 200,000 homes. The banking sector was
swaying; In May, the state had to step in and save a second
regional bank from bankruptcy. The government successfully
sold government bonds in installments, but interest rates
rose and reached alarming levels towards the end of the
The Social Democratic minority government worked against
the wind and pushed through the austerity measures by a
small margin. The opposition demanded new elections and
unions protested. Public servants carried out one-day
strikes in June and the Madrid subway stopped for a few
days. The industry was crippled by a general strike in
September, the first since 2002. A strike among air traffic
controllers in November caused flight chaos but was stopped
when the government took an emergency permit and forced the
strikers to return to work.
The Socialists suffered a stinging defeat when elections
were held in Catalonia in November. The Catalan nationalist
party CiU (Convergčncia in Unió) returned to power and the
right-wing party PP (Partido Popular) made its best choice
so far in the region.
In April, the Supreme Court indicted Judge Baltasar
Garzón, who was accused of violating his powers by
investigating abuses during the civil war of 1936-39 and the
subsequent Franco- rian. The target raised by right-wing
groups linked to Franco's phalangists has strong political
explosiveness. Many demonstrated in defense of Garzón's
right to investigate human rights violations.
In June, the Constitutional Court annulled parts of
Catalonia's constitution adopted by the region in 2006.
Catalonia does not have the right to call itself a "nation"
or allow Catalan to take precedence over Spanish, according
to the court. Over one million people in Barcelona took part
in a protest against the court ruling in July.
A comprehensive corruption trial was opened in Malaga in
September. Among the 95 defendants, there were two former
mayors and several other politicians accused of a scandal in
the real estate industry in Marbella in the 1990s.
In September, the Basque separatist guerrilla ETA
announced a one-sided ceasefire in its fight for an
independent Basque country. The government felt that the new
play had no credibility, earlier ceasefires had been broken.
In addition, ETA was considered to be greatly weakened. Many
ETA members were arrested during the year, including several
who were reported to have a leading position.