Monday, March 03, 2008

Get it right

As expats we are not entitled to vote in the general election on the 9th of this month. However the result could well have an impact on our lives.

The biggest issue to be debated is the economy.

There has been a huge, continuing building boom in Spain for years. Some of the statistics are staggering. More new homes were built in Spain in the last five years than in France, Germany and Britain put together. Half the cement made in Europe has ended up in Spain. But builders used their profits to reinvest and build more.

Because of the worsening economy, including rocketing food prices, people aren’t buying. And it matters because so much of the Spanish economy is tied up with construction. When the cranes stand idle it means unemployment is going up. Then there is the knock on effect. Furniture shops, garden centres etc etc feel the pinch. The whole economy of towns like Bigastro is largely determined by construction.

Traditionally Spaniards buy houses as investments rather than as homes. In the current situation they are not doing that. It is hard for them to get mortgages and in any case with prices dropping they are not going to take a risk. Foreign buyers find themselves in the same boat.

So whichever party wins on the 9th, they have a big job on their hands. Let's hope they get it right.

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