Thousands of people in Madrid protested against the exodus of rural areas in Spain two years ago. As a result, the government seemed to be taking the problem to heart. However, of all the promises that were made then, very little has come true for forgotten Spain.
The call for urgent measures seemed to be taking effect in 2019. With the nomination of political group Teruel Existe for national elections and the creation of a Ministry of Demographic Challenge. However, interest groups fighting for better infrastructure in forgotten Spain have noticed little of the good intentions of the government. They complain about the lack of decisiveness, the unwieldy bureaucracy and poor coordination between the different levels of government.
Last Wednesday, representatives of these interest groups returned to the Plaza de las Cortes in Madrid to express this dissatisfaction. Teruel Existe’s Vanesa García announced that she might participate in the upcoming regional elections. For twenty years, according to García, urgent measures have been called for to combat depopulation in rural areas.
Call for an integrated, long-term approach for forgotten Spain
The package of measures recently announced by the Ministry of Demographic Challenge, involving an investment of €10billion, is only a first step, according to platform España Vaciada. They demand an integrated approach from the government with continuous attention to the problem. For example, the recent relocation of the Defense logistics centre from Jaén to Cordoba does not show that the government is aware of the problems of empty Spain. Jaén is one of the counties with the highest unemployment rates in the country.
A survey conducted among all 80 interest groups shows that almost half of these organisations believe the government has done virtually nothing about the depopulation problem since 2019. In fact, a third thinks that nothing at all has happened in the past two years. As a result, a party like Teruel Existe can only disappoint its voters as long as the government does not take effective measures. Nevertheless, other groups have now also expressed an interest in entering the political arena in order to draw more attention to the depopulation issue.
Not a local but a global problem
For the time being, Tomas Guitarte, is Teruel Existe’s only member of parliament. And as such participation in politics is a way of fighting the policy of the established order. “The fight against territorial inequality is the most interesting fight there is. It’s not about a local, but about a global problem ”, says Guitarte. He also believes that the recently presented government plan against depopulation is no more than a first step in which continuity for the future is still lacking.
90% of Spaniards live in a third part of Spain
This continuity is necessary to make the demographic distribution of Spain more equal. Now 90% of the inhabitants live on 30% of the Spanish territory. In the remaining 70%, there has been a major exodus since the mid-twentieth century. As a result, the 23 provinces of empty Spain together account for just 17% of employment and over 16% of gross value added. In 1950 this was almost double at 27%.