Spain was Spain again. 2022 saw the return of fiestas, festivals, and ferias — such profound economic and emotional stimulants for Spanish society — return in their full capacities, filling the country’s streets and squares with colour, vigour, and alegría. However, no sooner had the battle with an invisible enemy in Covid-19 begun to wane than Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine. Spaniards quickly learned the meaning of cost-push inflation — in July, it hit a 38-year high of 10.8%. As Spain enters a bumper election year, attention will move away from the ideological debates that fill the airwaves and column inches here toward a subject we can all understand: the money in our pockets.
2023 looks set to be another tempestuous year. There’ll be high points and low blows. Joy and drama — Spain being very Spain.
Here is just a flavour of what’s to come:
1. All eyes on Spain
Spain will assume the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the fifth time during the second half of 2023. Coinciding with the run-in to the general election, there will be lots of nice opportunities for handshakes and soundbites for prime minister Pedro Sánchez when Charles Michel, Ursula von der Leyen, Emmanuel Macron, and company visit Madrid. Like the French president, Sánchez feels more loved in Brussels than at home, and we can expect him to use these gatherings to cement his position as the face of modern Spain in Europe. Of the four leaders present at the last general election debate in 2019, only Sánchez is left standing — his allies in Europe will be hoping he secures a second term.
2. Election fever
Towards the end of the last decade, Spaniards faced four gruelling general elections in four years. They’ll be sick of the sight of their local polling stations come this time next year. With municipal, regional, and general elections on the horizon, those living in Spain will be force-fed politics for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Will Spain’s first-ever coalition government pass the litmus test? If it doesn’t, the progressive block will be replaced by another coalition — this time from the opposite end of the political spectrum in the form of the conservative Partido Popular (PP) and far-right party Vox. Pedro Sanchez and his PSOE party have bounced…