With 2019 just around the corner and with the twelve grapes of luck in hand, we are wondering what this new year will bring for Spain. Political insecurity, economic reforms, the revision of the criminal system, the problems of finding a home at reasonable prices and the new traffic regulations are just some of the issues that most concern us.
At the economic level, the estimate of the CPI (consumer price index) for 2019 seems to be stable. Some banks place this number at 1,6%, a level similar to the 2018 year. However, there is no doubt that prices in Spain do not stop rising and salaries do not increase at the same rate. Although it seems that this country has emerged from a very long crisis, another one seems to be lurking in the shadows. It is possible that economic levels will grow in general this year, but great hopes and big changes are not expected concerning the majority of the population of Spain. In addition, the beginning of 2019 will be conditioned again by the effect of energy prices and especially oil and petrol, which closes a year 2018 very negative.
This is partly due to the new policies that sanction the use of fossil fuel vehicles. The social hysteria that has been generated by the prohibition of most cars in the central core of Madrid, coupled with the impending diesel tax has led to a crisis in the automobile sector. It is clear that the future lies in electric vehicles, but right now neither their autonomy nor the conditions of society allow a radical change in what refers to this type of transport. Therefore, in 2019 we can expect an increase in electric cars, but very light at the moment.
And what will happen to the penitentiary system? It is clear that gender violence is a social scourge against which Spain has to fight with all its weapons. In recent months, the feminist movement has been heard at a greater volume. But is it going in the right direction? Are we fighting for what really matters? No more dead women. Definitely. In addition, the reform of the Penal Code is necessary, but it is important to consider it very carefully and consult a large number of experts on this subject. While some parties advocate repealing revisable permanent prison in order to win votes, some criminals relapse into their crimes again and again. The social alarm can not be allowed to write laws, ceasing to consider their long-term effects and their primary origins.
On the other hand, while some voices announce another future crisis, others claim that the real estate sector will experience a slight rise during the year 2019 in terms of purchases and house rentals. It is also expected that there will be a certain brake on rental prices, especially in cities such as Madrid and Barcelona. A circumstance that will especially benefit young people who want to become independent from their parents’ house.
At global level, we are also experiencing a process of undoubted climate change. The summers are getting warmer and the winters are colder. This affects crops, which germinate earlier, but freeze with changes in temperature. It is expected that during the year 2019 climate change will continue to escalate, while the measures that are tried to impose internationally fall on deaf ears.
In addition, each autonomous community is fighting its own battle. To begin with, there is the pressing problem of the independence of Catalonia. While many Catalonians just want to live in peace, the most radical groups do not stop organizing protests, creating situations of absolute chaos. This circumstance is added to a weak socialist government that needs the pro-independence party to support their forces. Therefore, the situation is in a delicate balance where many fear talking and some fear silence. An independent Catalonia would have a great impact in Spain, but also the European Union, which is already in a weak place with the Brexit process.
If we look towards Andalusia, great changes are expected. After almost four decades of Andalusian socialism, in the recent elections the right wing has won the match. This is not only a 180 defree shift in politics, as many Andalusians have opted to vote for a far-right party that advocates radical decisions to end the country’s most pressing problems. And although this may worry the rest of the country in view of possible future general elections, it is about thousands of voices that demand a strong political system that applies forceful solutions.
In Andalusia, as in the Community of Valencia, they are also fighting against the problem of illegal immigration. The arrival on the Spanish coast of hundreds of immigrants every day has become a dilemma. The immigrant reception centers are working beyond their means, giving shelter to more people than they can accommodate. Some of these immigrants are taking to Spanish streets because they have no choice to survive. A part of them even commit crimes and spread diseases, a situation that has to be regulated immediately. It is evident that there are humanitarian reasons for housing refugees fleeing from countries at war and situations of extreme survival. But it is an international problem that must be fought together.
In other regions, such as Asturias or Extremadura, they face the problem of geographical isolation regarding transport. In central cities like Madrid there are multiple options to travel by train, bus or plane. But as soon as you leave the capital of Spain, the situation is very different. Moving within the Iberian Peninsula without a private car is becoming an issue. From Asturias they complain that more and more trains and flights are being cut, and prices are skyrocketing above abusive levels. But the problem is even more serious in Extremadura, where there are hardly any trains, while the few there are moving at a ridiculous speed. These two are just some of the regions that demand an extension of the AVE network —Spanish high-speed trains— although the ticket price for traveling on these trains is higher than the cost of traveling in a private car. The government announced that in 2019 more Renfe train networks would be established and a low-cost AVE line, the EVA. However, in principle it will only provide service between Madrid and Barcelona and the price reductions will not be too high. However, for months it has not been reported about EVA, so it seems that we are facing a new delay of Renfe.
Another pressing problem that will have to be solved in 2019 is pensions. Although the voices are rising from all points of Spain, the retirees of the Basque Country are pressing hard. The government has already announced a small increase in pensions, which will be higher in the case of non-contributory pensions. And although this measure does not seem to be enough, the Spanish pension system will be another problem to face in the year that now begins.
Meanwhile, the measures imposed by the socialist government in Central Madrid begin in 2019 with a multitude of uncertainties. The most critical voices are behind misinformation of citizens, the possible collection taxes effects over environmental reasons and mobility problems. Perhaps the measures of Central Madrid have been imposed in a hasty manner, before having a series of infrastructures that support it, such as dissuasive parkings and an necessary improvement of public transport. However, there is no doubt that we have to face the pressing problem of pollution in the big cities of Spain. And somewhere we have to start.
Summarizing, 2019 is not presented in Spain as the best year in economic terms. They do not stop threatening Spanish residents with new and imminent taxes, but they also think about investing more in education and innovation. And that’s always good news.