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Spain: How Many Advisors Are Really Necessary?

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

Amidst a full-blown economic crisis, while families are tightening their budgets in the face of the cuts recently announced by President Mariano Rajoy, Spaniards are beginning to worry about the news circulating with respect to the proliferation of advisors in the country's political sphere.

Just a few months ago, Secretary General of the People's Party (PP), Dolores de Cospedal, criticized ex-President José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's 600 advisors. Under current President Rajoy, that number has now increased to 632.  The head of the government is not the only person overcome by this wave, however; it appears as though we find advisors in all of the political branches: Congress, city councils, autonomous communities, delegations… Madrid's city council relies on 254 advisors [es] that cost 12 million euro, the Autonomous Community of Valencia — which just sought a “bailout” from the central government [es] — spends 3.9 million euro each year on their advisors, the Generalitat of Cataluña has 133, even Cospedal herself went from having 5 to 24 staff members in her cabinet [es] in Castilla la Mancha, and the salaries for advisors as well as high ranking government officials have increased by 8% to 10%.  In Congress, it has gotten to the point that in some committees, the number of advisors exceeds that of the parliamentarians [es].  The list is never-ending.

Spaniards view this squandering of public funds with growing concern while they helplessly witness the budget cuts of necessary services, such as education and healthcare, or while they see how the unemployed, who can no longer collect unemployment benefits, are left without 400 euro.

“All of these advisors have advised that I charge you 18 euros a month for medication so that we get the accounts.” Cartoon from http://aliciantolin.typepad.com/

Journalist Andrés Aberasturi writes in El Aguijón [es]:

Rajoy no ha metido mano de verdad a la sangría de las administraciones públicas, no ha acabado mediante decreto-ley o por esa otra formula que alguien ha llamado “porcojonismo” con las más de cuatro mil empresas públicas que son un verdadero desastre, no ha dicho una palabra sobre las grandes fortunas, no ha dado carta libre a la inspección de hacienda para combatir los grandes fraudes y ha cargado las tintas en los asalariados, no ha eliminado, lo primero, cientos de subvenciones y otras prebendas del todo inaceptables en una situación como la nuestra e inmorales en cualquier caso, no ha echado a la calle a los miles de “asesores” de los que se rodean todos ellos y que, por lo visto, más vale que no asesoren  (…)

Rajoy has not really dealt with the bleeding of the public administration, he has not finished, via an order-law nor by that other formula that someone dubbed “porcojonismo” (“ballsiness”), with over four thousands public companies that are a true disaster. He has not said a single word about the grand fortunes, he has not given free reign to property inspections to fight large frauds, and he has exaggerated wage earnings, he has not eliminated, firstly, hundreds of subsidies and benefits of all of the unacceptable things in a situation such as ours and immoral in any case, he has not thrown into the streets the thousands of “advisors” who surround them, and who, from what we see, are better off not advising at all (…)

About the economic bloodshed, it is important to add the public perception that all of these advisors are worthless, in the best case scenario, and in the worst, that they are giving extremely poor advice to the leadership, as @ElisaCansado y @ruthpop8 comment on Twitter:

@ElisaCansado: RT Rajoy 53 asesores más qu Zapatero, gente que están a dedo y cobrando sueldazos por hundir el país. Cospedal triplica en asesores a Barreda [su predecesor]

@ruthpop8: @antonlosada puedes decirme quienes son los asesores economicos de Rajoy?, deberieron suspender micro y macroeconomia en la carrera.

@ElisaCansado:  RT Rajoy 53 more advisors than Zapatero, people who are pulling strings and earning huge salaries to drown the country.  Cospedal has triple the number of advisors as Barreda [her predecessor]

@ruthpop8: @antonlosada can you tell me who Rajoy's economic advisors are? they must have failed micro- and macroeconomics in college.

Among the advisors of diverse ministries, some politicians’ family members have acquired particularly well-paid posts, much like the case of the sister, son, and cousin of Madrid's President, Esperanza Aguirre [es].  The Princess of Asturias’ sister herself occupied a position of this sort in the Barcelona city council as well.  Other family members of politicians have become high-ranking officials in public companies or in governmental participation.

In the current state of things, the comments of many Spaniards do not come as a shock. They are disappointed by the abysmal path of the country's politics and economy, and refuse to continue tolerating the so-called “culture of the get rich quick” scheme:

Sociedad y políticos en España

The Spanish society and its politicians, each time getting further from one another.  Cartoon from http://nauscopio.wordpress.com

Malarosa: Está claro que los políticos de este país van a lo suyo, utilizan la política para fines personales, unos y otros, tenemos un grave problema al que no veo solución. No me creo yo que dentro de todo el PP no hay ninguna persona más capaz que los familiares mencionados, me cuesta creerlo la verdad. Ellos que son tan honrados, tan buenos, tan dignos, tan…hipócritas y lo que más me fastidia es que nos traten al resto de los mortales como si fuésemos tontos.

Prais: ¡Que quejica eres Simpulso!… solo porque los politicuchos de turno no duden en gastar pasta en gilipollec… digo en cosas necesarias como cuadros, asesores o puestos a dedo… total ¿en que se recorta? ¿en sanidad? buah! que la gente se haga un seguro privado como debe ser ¿recortes en educacion? ¡pero si los pobres son tontos y no tienen derecho a estudiar! ¡que se paguen una buena escuela de pago!…¡vivan las mayorías absolutas que hacen que nuestros queridos gobernantes aprueben todo tipo de injustici… digo de mejoras.

Malarosa: It is clear that the politicians in this country have their own agenda, they use politics for personal gain, all of them, we have a severe problem for which I do not see a solution.  I cannot bring myself to believe that within the entirety of the PP there is not a single person more capable than the relatives mentioned, I truly cannot bring myself to believe it.  They who are so honored, so good, so dignified, so… hypocritical and what angers me the most is that they treat the rest of us mortals as if we were stupid.

Prais: What a complainer you are, Simpulso! … simply because the typical politicians do not doubt in spending tons of money on stupidities… I mean on necessary things like paintings, advisors, nepotism… ultimately, where are they taking the cuts from? healthcare? ha! people should get private insurance.  cuts in education? but if the poor are stupid, they don't have the right to go to school! they should pay for a good private school!…long live the absolute majorities that make our beloved government officials approve all sorts of injusti… I mean benefits.

Spaniards continue to wait for their leaders to set an example of the same austerity and sacrifice they impose on the middle class and as of now, there has been no result.  In fact, they have done quite the opposite.

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

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