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Spain, at Thermopylae with a warning from the Monetary Fund

Image result for greek electionsDizzying eve of the Greek elections . A week ago. The Eurogroup agreed to the opening of a loan of 100,000 million euros for the recapitalization of Spanish banks, without humiliating conditions for the Government of Mariano Rajoy . The calculated ambiguity about the demands of the credit – the fine print has not yet been written – immediately fueled a harsh debate in Spain about the real scope of the rescue, provoked the suspicion of the countries intervened under harsh conditions (Greece, Portugal and Ireland ), forced the German government to re-harden its discourse in the face of internal criticism, and failed to avoid the capsizing of Spanish sovereign debt. In a state of alarm, the International Monetary Fund asked yesterday in the afternoon to Spain the early implementation of two adjustment measures : the rise in VAT and the reduction of the salary of officials. At that time, Rajoy holds a video conference with Herman Van Rompuy, Angela Merkel, François Hollande and Mario Monti. Risk premium at 543 points.

A month ago, the government slogan was to resist, resist and resist the turbulence that was going to bring the Greek elections of June 17, a dramatic referendum on the price to be paid in southern Europe for the continuity of the mythical common currency of the year 2001. This strategy helps to explain -at least partially- the dizzying chain of events that begins on the night of March 26 with the funereal face of Javier Arenas Bocanegra on a balcony of San Fernando Street in Seville after losing the bet of the Andalusian elections, continues with the beheading of Rodrigo Rato at the head of Bankia (May 8) and concludes, this ill-fated week, with the euro in suspense, the debt on the cliff, a surrealistic fight over the word rescue and the ultimatum of the IMF June 16, Spain, at Thermopylae.

In the passage of the Hot Gates – the strategic gorge of the Hellenic Peninsula where there were hot water springs – one of the most legendary battles in history was fought in 480 BC. For three days, a courageous Greek contingent, led by the Spartans, managed to stop the oceanic Persian army. Xerxes the Great, son of Darius, had to subdue the Greek cities if he wanted to expand his empire on both shores of the Mediterranean. A new order was at stake. The Spartans could not stop the eastern avalanche, but their bravery became a legend. The Hellenic League regained strength and after a few years was able to defeat the Persians in the decisive naval battle of Salamis.

With the valuable support of the United States – the eloquent declarations of Barack Obama, 24 hours before the meeting of the Eurogroup, in favor of an early injection of money in the “weak banks” without humiliating conditions for Spain -, on Saturday, Guindos managed to win the iron resistance of the guardians of European rigorism (Finland, Holland, Estonia and Austria), with the consent of Germany, willing to a certain flexibility with Spain, always without irritating their public opinion. A soft rescue, close to the bench. A rescue without humiliation. This point-politically decisive-would soon become infected.

Immediately, a heated three-party debate began – Government, opposition and press – about the name of the thing. Emulating Zapatero with the word crisis, Rajoy refused to pronounce the word rescue and boasted of having pressured Europe, in an atmosphere of soccer passion. The PSOE, caressing the dream of a government of national concentration-suggested two weeks ago by Felipe González-equated the loan with an intervention like that of Greece, Portugal and Ireland. On Monday, the heated Spanish debate leapt to Europe: Greeks, Portuguese and Irish people asked for coffee for everyone; German public opinion demanded explanations from Merkel; the techno-structure of Brussels – Joaquín Almunia to the front-, entered the list to not be out of play; the British press put on its boots, and the markets questioned the future of the euro. Any hint of triumphalism was crushed.

Rajoy received yesterday to Almunia in a climate of apparent cordiality (the previous day, exponents of the PP had requested his resignation labeling it as disloyal to his country). Vice President Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría subtly recalled that the Government has a “clear majority” and claimed the efforts of the Spanish people in the face of the crisis. The PSOE exhibited strongly its new line of “national unity”. And, in the middle of the afternoon, came the severe demand from the IMF. Spain, which wanted to stay away from Greece, has ended up at Thermopylae. On the front line.