Economically speaking, it seems that Spain is firmly back on track. According to official statistics, the country’s GDP will very soon rise above pre-crisis levels; in other words, Spain’s economy is back to where it was in 2008, before the recession hit.
Three consecutive years of economic growth, a steadily decreasing rate of unemployment - now at 18% down from a high of 27% in 2013 - and the government’s recent announcement of its first non-austerity budget all seem to indicate that Spain has exited its grinding recession.
The once-striken country is also likely to be a key player in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations, not least because of the Gibraltar issue.
Indeed, when Donald Tusk explicitly referenced Spain’s ability to veto any proposed Brexit deal that includes Gibraltar, he signalled to the UK and the rest of Europe that Mariano Rajoy has Brussels’ backing in fighting hard for the Rock (fighting in a diplomatic sense, not with guns over the high seas, as one UK Conservative has-been said might be necessary).
As if to remind the EU of his country’s steadily-healing economy and renewed importance within the bloc, the Spanish prime minister hosted a meeting of the leaders of France, Portugal, Italy, Cyprus, Malta and Greece in Madrid on Monday, with the aim of forming a shared negotiating stance on Brexit.
Spain’s revitalised economy significantly accounts for its surge in diplomatic confidence. Yet it might seem bizarre that the county’s GDP continued to expand last year, given that Spain lacked a proper government for almost ten months.
The Spanish economy - bouyed by external factors such as a bumper tourism year - remained largely indifferent to the bickering and stalling of its supposed stewards, though - just as Belgium’s did when the country went for 589 days without an administration between 2010 and 2011.
It is therefore not true to describe the Spanish economy as “hanging by a thread”, as a UK tabloid headline did this week.
Inaccurate as such labels now are for Spain, there is still much work to be done before its government can uncork the champagne and celebrate a return to pre-crisis stability.
Indeed, the tabloid headline was referring to the convoluted process faced by Mariano Rajoy as he tries to approve the 2017 budget with a minority government in a divided parliament.
If all goes according to plan, the spending plan will be passed in June - halfway through the year it is suppose to cover.
While the Spanish economy is far from “hanging on a thread” in the meantime, this delay highlights the difficulties of Rajoy’s unenviable position: he is operating in a congress in which his enemies have the power to veto anything he proposes.
Even though Spain’s economy is expanding at a steady rate anyway, such delays in forming fiscal policy hardly bolster the country’s reputation on the international stage. Rajoy’s biggest challenge in the coming months will be to govern effectively by avoiding similar hold-ups - a task which Pedro Sánchez will significantly hinder if he regains control of the Socialists next month.
Whilst the Spanish economy might be returning to pre-crisis health, the county’s political situation is far more fragmented than it was nine years ago.