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Cristóbal Montoro trusts the strength of the Spanish economy, “provided that politics do not spoil it”

“There are reasons to think that this can go well, provided that politics do not spoil it,” concluded Cristóbal Montoro, former Minister of Finance of the PP, referring to the Spanish economy, in his speech at the Proa Comunicación Observatory Thursday, July 4. Montoro spoke about ‘The Spanish economy and its pending challenges” with a large group of professionals and entrepreneurs at the Club Financiero Génova.

The Minister of Finance who has been at the “genesis” of more Budgets (15), justified what he considers “an important and positive moment” for the Spanish economy in which it is in the lead of world growth, with a payment balance in the positive for six years, “for the first time in history”, and the creation of 500,000 jobs per year. These are factors that make it “the most competitive growth” we’ve ever experienced. Showing the evolution vividly, he recalled that in 1950, when he was born, there were ration cards and that in 1959 the per capita income was 2,000 dollars, while today it reaches 25,000 euros.

To prove his claim, he turned his speech into a marathon of figures, “because everything that is not an account is a story,” he said, referring to a recent book by his former cabinet colleague Álvaro Nadal (Minister of Energy, Tourism and the Digital Agenda of Mariano Rajoy). Then, he went over per capita income from the 1950s until today, the percentages of exports from Spanish companies, investment, public and private debt evolution, unemployment, inflation…

He highlighted the process of internationalization of Spanish companies and was especially proud that presently, not only the large public companies, but also the medium-sized are the those that expand outside of Spain. He quantified exports at 35% of the GDP and he noted that in 1996 the internationalization of Spanish companies was 6% of the GDP and now it is 56%.

On the other hand, he placed value on the fact that, “compared to the rest of the world”, Spain is repaying its debt and companies have a very good level of consolidation, which means that they can invest without credit. “The private sector has lowered its debt 450,000 million euros,” he said. Even, “direct business investment is superior to that of Germany and France,” he said. The same does not happen in the public sector, which, in his opinion, must reduce its deficit and also its debt, and it has the opportunity to do so by taking advantage of the low interest rates, a circumstance that considered the result of the good work of the ECB.

In order for this positive situation to continue, he recommended that the Government continue promoting the reforms, and more specifically, labor, public sector, banking and energy sectors. Something that he considered essential to make the qualitative leap that “will take us to the top of the most advanced economies”. He also advised to put the economy first in government negotiations to “be able to continue growth and job creation” and, above all, in the absence of majorities in Parliament, to negotiate the Budget in order to be able to move it forward. At this point, he revealed precisely that, the current Budget extended what the Government of the PP agreed with Citizens, PNV, Union of the Navarrese People, Asturias Forum, Canary Coalition and New Canary Islands, “it was thought to be extended.” And he advised against those who govern the repeal of the Budget Stability Law and tax increase, because, in his opinion, “there is money, there is no need to spend more”.

The attendees were also interested in unemployment, the tax system and inflation. Their questions were answered with a cascade of data and a detailed explanation of the evolution of each issue.

Cristóbal Montoro was born in Jaén and received his bachelor’s degree and doctorate in Economic Sciences from the Autonomous University of Madrid. He ‘contaminated’ the “virus of politics” with 43 years, while additionally he was a professor of Applied Economics in Santander. He has been Finance Minister for 11 years, in the Government of José María Aznar, between 2001 and 2004, and under Mariano Rajoy, between December 2011 and June 2018. He has been a representative in Congress (for Jaén, Sevilla and Madrid) and Economic spokesperson for his party since 1993, with the only exception of his term in the European Parliament, between 2004 and 2008. He was president of the Economy and Business Commission in the Congress of Representatives from September 2018 until very recently.

Proa Observatories are discussion forums that feature prominent leaders, politicians and professionals. Born with the mission to be a workshop of ideas where a genuine dialogue is fostered, Observatories aim to discuss current business issues, as well as corporate reputation, brand and public issues as important elements for the improvement of companies.

Personalities that have participated in these meetings include: the economist Manuel Conthe, the former Minister of Education, Culture and Sport José Ignacio Wert, the writer and priest Pablo D’Ors, the Director of External Communication of Deloitte, Antonio Belmonte, the Director of Communication and Institutional Relations of El Corte Inglés, José Luis González-Besada, the High Commissioner for the Spain Brand Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros, the writer and journalist Pilar Urbano, the general director of Information and Control of Publications S.A. (OJD), Manuel Sala, Professor of Corporate Communication and Crisis Management at IESE Business School Yago de la Cierva, the president of Multinational by Marca España, Chema Palomares, the president of Red Eléctrica de España, Jordi Sevilla, or the current mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, among others.

Times Keep Changing

The spur that has infected our lives has also infiltrated politics. One month in the 21st century is much more than a year of the twentieth century, and a year equals a decade. While the no-confidence motion that sprung Pedro Sánchez into power from the hands of a heterogeneous group of collaborators still seems to fit within the story, the picture that came out on May 26 renders old, in a very short time, the snapshot of the election results from last April.

Less than a month ago, the PSOE achieved a broad but weak parliamentary majority, Vox entered with unprecedent strength in the Spanish political scene and Ciudadanos claimed a place at the table of the elders, and many rushed to proclaim Rivera the leader of the opposition. Little remains of all that, as the election results of yesterday redrew a political map that few dared to predict less than a month ago.

The most striking change is related to the People’s Party (PP), which many rushed to bury in April. In a single month the PP improved between 4 and 6 percentage points of the vote (between 400,000 and one million more votes in European and municipal elections), surpassing in both elections the symbolic barrier of 20%. Despite obtaining worse results than in 2015, with more than 20,000 councilors throughout Spain the PP is now able to win governments in more provincial capitals (23) and in more major cities (45 of more than 50,000 inhabitants), including the Community of Madrid and the capital of Spain. In addition, the government has leverage forms part of the ruling coalition in four autonomous communities (which would include Galicia and Andalusia), almost half of the Spanish population, also having the Government of Navarre within its reach to subdue the socialists, thanks to its alliance with Ciudadanos and the UPN.

The elections of this past Sunday show that the only alternative to the PSOE in all of Spain is the PP.  Its difference with Ciudadanos reaches between 2 and 3 million votes (depending on which national election you choose). Vox has lost between a half and two thirds of its votes and the PP is the alternative to the PSOE government in all provinces and in all provincial capitals of Spain.

Beyond maintaining territorial power, these results have an essential strategic consequence, by putting Ciudadanos at a strategic crossroads that can determine its political future: to become a fringe party which installs and removes governments, or despite the results, continue working to lead the opposition even within these next four years.

Hold no doubts, however, for in the next few months everything can change again.



Rafa Rubio 
Expert in Political Communication

Round Two: More of the Same?

It would’ve been a lot to hope, and even riskier yet to believe, in innovations of rhetoric and technique by politicians running for this second electoral round. There was, however, room for improvement, yet this potential to change for the better rather took a turn for the worse, especially when aggressive norms and ways played out abundantly and were not set aside.

The difference would’ve come rather from the varied scope of these elections: from the most distant to the closest, from Brussels and Strasbourg, to the autonomous communities, to the cities and into the towns and villages themselves. To which, in spite of everything, was largely absent of the murderous pressure hailing from the preceding general elections. Presently, we’ve seen debates (such as those of the European elections) of up to nine speakers, a number that makes quite a crowd in this context and a purgatory for any communication advisor. To stand out among so many, identify the potential voter and be identified by the electorate alike to communicate just a glimpse of a message already seems like a fairly remarkable achievement.

But our observations should go, with everything, accompanied by two caveats. First, the observable sample has been limited by the author to the televised debates in Madrid (city and region) and Barcelona, in addition to those corresponding to the European elections. On the other hand, we don’t want, and it would be a mistake, to establish correlations between communication strategies and the results obtained. At a glance, this would set off into uncharted waters.

With regards to the first, it can only be said that although you can see a tenth of an iceberg, even when the part underwater remains out of sight, you can pretty much what it’s like: everything is ice, more of the same. Without meaning to disparage other cities and provinces, it’s unlikely that we’ve missed something particularly good or striking by not seeing more debates elsewhere.

On the other hand, we’ve witnessed more than unusual incidents. Let’s say, for instance, something as funny as the debate between the candidates for the Presidency of the Community of Madrid organized by the SER and El País, in which the PP candidate Diaz Ayuso wasn’t present, but Errejón was (without hindrances from the Electoral Board). PP’s track record in the last legislature was discussed abundantly with its own representative absent, while among the audience sat none other than the preceding Community President, Ángel Garrido, now having crossed over to Ciudadanos with both ammunition and baggage. Boy, who can trump that!

No less eventful was the debate between the candidates running for the mayor’s office in the capital, , this time on TeleMadrid, in which the main contestant, Carmena, portrayed a persona much less charismatic and majestic as she renounced in an almost orthodox fashion any chance to discuss anything in detail, as if above good and evil.

Anti-communism is Immortal

But getting into the substance of the matter, the most suspenseful aspect, the one test to pass (except for the smartest of the class, and they are few), in practice is still the golden minute, how to successfully take advantage of that final minute. We’ve seen these sixty seconds – and they can get very long indeed – shaky, confused, perplexed, helpless.

Ciudadanos has also been notably stubborn in its abuse of visual elements. Once again with the photos, posters, graphics, and a real-life ridicule for Silvia Saavedra, Begoña Villacís’ substitute in the TeleMadrid mayoral debates. With cartoonish edges, very exploited by social media was that tilted Lenin, lying down like his own mummy, seeming to prove that although communism may be dying, anti-communism, on the other hand, is immortal.

And yet it was Ciudadanos, through the words of Luis Garicano, which highlighted the most noteworthy novelty, and even better, a truthful declaration and not pure invention nor imagination: the revelation that nationalist parties’ complete coalitions are not shown completely on the ballots, instead only including candidates and parties pertaining to the specific autonomous community to which the ballot is designated, using this omission to deceive and conceal true alliances and therefore intentions in front of eventual voters.

And the third act, in theatrical terms (or the third round, alluding to sportive heritage)? What can we fear? The continuity will no longer pertain to the campaigns, but to legislatures themselves. It would be desirable, at least if we want political communication strategies to make the difference, or a difference, that party leaders should study these recent campaigns, and apply to remedy the worst of them. Not only pro bono for our sake, but also to revive the life they take as their own: politics.


                   

Pablo Carbajosa 

Officer responsible for the Public Speaking and Effective Writing Areas of Proa Comunicación and coordinator of the Debate Club at the Comillas Pontifical University of Madrid

José Luis Martínez-Almeida, PP Candidate for Mayor of Madrid to Participate in the PROA Comunicación Observatories

José Luis Martínez Almeida, spokesperson of the PP (People’s Party/Partido Popular) and PP candidate for Mayor of Madrid, will participate in a new edition of the PROA Communicación Observatories entitled ‘Recovering Madrid for everyone’. The Observatory will be held on Friday, May 8, 2019, at 09:00AM at the Wellington Hotel (c/Velázquez, 8).

José Luis was born in Madrid in 1975. He holds a Law Degree from the Comillas Pontificial University (ICAI-ICADE) and has been a State Attorney since 2001. He has worked in Girona, Toledo and Madrid. His career as a lawyer of the State is extensive, particularly before the Social Courts and in the Administrative Chamber.

In 2007 he was inaugurated as General Director of Historic Heritage of the Community of Madrid until 2011. Between 2011 and 2013 he was Secretary-General of the Governing Council of the Autonomous Community of Madrid later becoming Secretary-General of the Board of Directors of SEPI Desarrollo Empresarial (SEPIDES), a group of companies owned by the government holding company SEPI, from September 2013 to April 2014, also assuming leadership of its Legal Advising Department.

In April 2014, he was appointed by consensus of the Council of Ministers as Director of the Institutional Legal Division of the Independent Authority for Fiscal Responsibility.

After the 2015 Municipal and Autonomous Elections he took office as Councilor of PP’s Municipal Group and on April 28, 2017 he was elected as Spokesperson of the Municipal branch of his party, a position he currently holds. On January 13, 2019, he was nominated by his party as the Candidate for Mayor of Madrid. His hobbies include golf and an avid passion for Atlético de Madrid.