If it could be done by putting flags on display, the Community of Madrid would already be free of coronavirus, I am told by a retired politician, always sharp, who has just seen on television the explosion of Spanish and Madrid flags at the joint press conference offered by Pedro Sánchez and Isabel Díaz Ayuso. The stage presentation of the presidents after a meeting at the Puerta del Sol has the aftertaste of those meetings that end up becoming waste paper: its celebration is as necessary as its outcome is useless. The coronavirus is advancing unchecked in Madrid and in the midst of the most absolute misgovernment, whatever anyone says. It happened once last spring, when everyone ended up paying for the refusal to close off the capital in the weeks following, although putting it so bluntly irritates people beyond the Ebre. Now Madrid is following the same path and, far from taking strong measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, dedicates efforts to reminding us, as if Catalans did not know, that Madrid is Spain and Spain is Madrid and, above all, to spreading propaganda. Thus, for example, the Madrid autonomous community has perimeter control measures that, in practice, are useless, as they are so porous and permeable that, beyond the headline they generate, there is nothing. So much so that circulation between the severely-affected neighbourhoods and those with better contagion figures takes place without any problems.
President Quim Torra has asked Catalans not to travel to Madrid if it is not a necessity - for the clueless who are willing to attack him for everything, a reminder that he also asked Catalans not to go to Igualada and the Òdena Basin during the confinement there, and not to travel to other areas with high levels of infection - and that checks be made at the point of departure for long-distance trains and coaches as well as planes. If we acquired any experience during the long lockdown before summer, it was that this was possible, and that many of the meetings that have been getting back to their normal, pre-pandemic pace since the summer can go back to temporary digital format once again. We must be aware that Madrid is once again a powder keg and that the coronavirus is out of control. It is no longer just a health issue and the system is starting to be stretched with hospitals increasing their figures for occupancy of available beds too quickly. We are talking about the fact that the economic situation, of which so little is being said, is only getting worse and there is now a certain consensus among economists that Spain is missing the bus and is falling behind other European countries.
There is also the alarming observation that Spain is the only country with economic forecasts which don't last more than a couple of months and, at each review, show a larger estimated fall in GDP at the end of the year. Bloomberg, for example, is already pointing to an annual fall of 12%, far more than countries around us which have taken much better advantage of the situation in recent months to stabilize the pandemic and move away from equating increase in Covid-19 with falls in the economy. Italy has done so, but it has not been the only one, and has moved away from a prognosis as dramatic as the Spanish one. It is true that the composition of the Spanish economy rests significantly on the triangle of tourism, hotel and restaurants, but this alone does not explain the poor performance of Spain. In the middle is the lack of direction of Pedro Sánchez's government, the dissent between the coalition partners and the permanent escapist attitude of the executive, using political measures to cover up its enormous inefficiency, forgetting that although Europe will provide money from non-repayable funds and credits, this will be in 2021 and will not get us out of the crisis.
But no one wants to be having this debate, as it is unpleasant and does not usually win votes. It is easier and more comfortable to sell hot air and stoke Spanish nationalism.