A beggar in front of the Banco de España. A. FERRARAS
Spain has the second highest level of inequality between its richest and poorest citizens in Europe, only beaten into first place by Latvia.
This is according to a report just issued from Oxfam Intermón, the Spanish branch of Oxfam and entitled “Governing for the elite: The hijacking of democracy and economic inequality”.
On an international level, the poorest half of the global population has the same collective wealth as the world’s 85 richest people. In Spain the amount of money accumulated by the 20 richest people - 77 billion euros - is equivalent to the massed salaries of the poorest 20 per cent.
The report from the NGO, which sees the disparity of wealth as “the second most important risk on a global scale”, highlights the fact that before the economic crisis the top 20 per cent of Spain’s wealthy population earned 5.3 times that of the poorest 20 per cent. In 2011 this figure increased to 7.5 times and if it continues at the same rate then by 2025 it will reach 18 times.
Oxfam Intermón believes that dissatisfaction in Spain “is patent and growing. Disillusionment with politics has extended to a general weariness with institutions of the state as well as other formal organisations which risks causing future socio-political conflict”.
A professor of political sciences from Barcelona University, Joan Subirats, agrees. “A very few, the most powerful, have a big voice. Many others are never heard.”
Carlos Cruzado, from the state tax authorities, claims that since 2010, “90 per cent of the Spanish population thinks that the tax system is unfair”.