The Andalusian challenge to the elections on 19th

Andalusia celebrated the 30th anniversary this year of the arrival of AVE to Cordoba, Seville.

The Andalusian challenge to the elections on 19th

The fact that Andalusia's situation has not improved over the years is not surprising. Between 1995 and 2020, Andalusian GDP per head doubled in the 25-year period. This is even when you consider the data from the year of the pandemic. This growth didn't significantly decrease the gap with the rest, which is why historians continue to debate its origin. It is most commonly placed in the lost opportunities of the 19th-century industrialization process, which saw Andalusia contribute 18% to the total Spanish industrial production. This situation continued until the Civil War. The Atlas of the Economic History of Andalusia records this less-known development of regional industries, which fell between the 1930s to the 1960s.

These reasons are part of the ongoing political debate in Andalusia. They are also present in the electoral campaign that began Friday and will end with the elections on Sunday, June 19. The possibility of the PSOEA continues to be weighed by the nearly four decades of socialist governments that Andalusia has been modernized, but have not significantly reduced the distance to the rest of Spain. Socialists are unable to find a way to regain the power they had between 1982 and January 2019.

These elections are the first step towards political change. They began on December 2, 2018, with the elections. A short result of socialism was combined with the growth of Ciudadanos, and the unexpected infiltration of Vox led to an unexpected turnaround. Vox received 10% of the votes for the first time on the Spanish institutional scene.

Nearly half a million of the socialist voters who voted for Pedro Sanchez in the polls hadn't voted four months prior to Diaz being elected president of the Board. Juanma Moreno won just 20% of the votes and managed to unify the right-wing bloc, ending 37 years of PSOE governments. Andalusian socialism was defeated by her own electorate due to exhaustion.

It is unclear whether Moreno has been capable of closing the gap between Andalusia's development and that of Spain over the three-and-a-half years he was in power. This is also a subject of debate and difficult analysis. More than half his term was conditioned by the pandemic.

The data that the community is starting to emerge from the crisis points in favor of its management. Andalusia already has the ability to increase its pre-pandemic levels in indicators like employment, self-employment, home sales, foreign investment, and exports. The autonomous community has been able to close the gap between the national average GDP per capita and the pace of recovery that started in 2021. It emerged from the Covid crisis with a one-point improvement in its convergence to Spain.

The region saw unemployment fall below 20% last month, at 19.43 percent. This is a record that Andalusia has not seen since 2008. However, more than 22% of respondents to the Center for Andalusian Studies' (CENTRA) survey admitted to having financial difficulties, and 27% said they were afraid for their jobs or the safety of others.

Andalusians see unemployment as their main concern and it is the focus of all political debates. It is also a significant part of the image Andalusia projects onto other Spanish communities. It is currently being received by 150,000 of the 778,000 Andalusians who are unemployed.

There are many indicators that point to economic recovery. The Andalusian government is not afraid to credit the tax reductions and administrative simplification policy that it has supported since the PP/Ciudadanos coalition was in power. These measures may have had decisive results in such a short period of time, but his opponents claim otherwise.

Andalusia had 3,309,047 active workers in April 2022. This is a new historic record for the month. Comparing the current year to 2019 (prior to the pandemic), 161,000 people contributed, which was the largest increase in absolute terms, and the highest percentage (5.1% to the national average of 4.8%).

The Andalusian government also celebrated that the community is leading the way in self-employed worker registrations, surpassing Catalonia's first. It has also been ranked second among autonomous communities with the highest exports, just behind Madrid. So much optimism is being questioned by the unions. Nuria Lopez, general secretary of Workers Commissions in Andalusia says that the rise in self-employment is nothing but an expression of precariousness. The flat rate in this sector has become "an open portal to exploitation and false exit in face of the despair of long-term unemployment."

Bank of candidates on a main street in Granada. / IDEAL

The Andalusian economy is heavily outsourced. 74% of its total weight comes from the services sector. It is dominated by the restaurant and tourism industries. Hotels and tourism account for one in ten of the Andalusian GDP. While construction has not returned to its pre-2008 levels, it still makes up 6.6% of the economy, and industry is 11.8%.

Despite the perception that Andalusian communities have a strong agricultural sector presence, the numbers show that only 7% of regional GDP is derived from this activity. This contribution is growing and explains much of the recent growth in Andalusian exports. This is a rise in wine and agricultural production.

Andalusia had the most successful export year in its history last year. This means that Andalusia's exports have exceeded the 20% threshold for the first-ever time. The community also has a trade surplus in the region of 1,358 millions euros, compared to Spain's deficit of 26,000,000,000. These figures don't include engineering services, which Andalusia has seen a qualitative rise in the last few years. Malaga played an important role in the modernization of Andalusian's economy since the creation of Innova, a public-private foundation that promotes the city as a center of technological attraction. Since Google selected the capital of Costa del Sol as its center for cybersecurity excellence, technology landings have been a steady stream. The arrivals of the North American financial giant Citigroup, Vodafone, Globant and the local technology Virus Total have made it a hub for innovation. Gonzalez de Lara is the president of Confederation of Andalusian Entrepreneurs. Malaga represents a path Andalusia should follow. He says, "It's believing in it, abandoning victimhood, looking at other people, having a model, and having the public government help."

As a point of technological development, the growth of the Costa del Sol's capital joins other strategic centers in the Andalusian economic, like the aerospace center in Seville, and to a lesser degree, in Cadiz.

These economic poles have not been capable of alleviating one of the issues that the community faces along with what is happening across Spain: territorial imbalances. 55% of Andalusian territory has very little population. There are less than 40 people per square kilometer in scattered rural areas. This situation affects all of northern Spain, including the provinces Jaen, Cordoba, Seville, and the interior regions of Huelva.

However, 60% of the population resides in the eight provincial capitals, and particularly around Seville, on the Algeciras–La Linea, Cadiz–Jerez, and Malaga-Marbella axes. These areas, which make up only 20% of the territory's total area, are home to most industries and services. However, they also have the highest unemployment rates.

Andalusia is Spain's youngest community, but it still faces the demographic winter. The Institute of Statistics and Cartography of Andalusia predicts that the country's population will be less than eight and a quarter million by 2050, and will shrink to seven and a fifth million by 2100. It will lose a million people in 80 years. This is a challenge that the government, which emerges from the polls at the 19th, will have to face.