MADRID – The number of senior officials and advisers working for the Spanish government has reached an unprecedented level with an increase of 26%. In particular, the number of advisors rose sharply by 37.5% to a total of 1,123.
Pedro Sánchez took office as prime minister in 2018. Since then, the number of government officials has risen by 26%, to 1,875 in June this year. Of these, 1,123 are consultants, an increase of 37.6%, and 752 are senior civil servants, an increase of 12%. Both numbers have risen at an unprecedented rate, according to data from the Ministry of Finance and the Civil Service and the Spanish Court of Audit’s Civil Service Report (Intervención General del Estado).
The Ministry of the Presidency and Relations with Parliament, headed by Félix Bolaños, has by far the most senior officials and temporary staff. At the end of last year, there were 537.8 more than the year before. Of these, 521 are temporary staff and the rest are senior civil servants. With this, the ministry accounts for almost a third of the total number of appointed persons of the executive branch.
Numbers two and three
In second place in this ranking is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This ministry has a total of 316 senior officials and advisers, including all ambassadors. This makes fairness and comparison with the other ministries impossible. In third place is the Ministry of Territorial Policy headed by government spokesman Isabel Rodríguez. At the end of 2021, this ministry had 196 employees. That is four times as much as the 49 in the previous year.
After the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Science and Innovation, led by Diana Morant, is by far the biggest increase. This has a growth of 119% in the number of employees. Closely followed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation led by Nadia Calviño with a growth of 109.7%. The third biggest riser with 107% is the Ministry of Defense, chaired by Margarita Robles.
With a sharp increase between 2020 and 2021, albeit to a lesser extent, its followers are the Ministry of Social Security, Inclusiveness and Migration and the Ministry of Finance, led by José Louis Escrivá and María Jesús Montero respectively. The Ministry of Ecological Transition had 16 senior officials and advisers in 2020 and 29 in 2021, which represents an increase of no less than 80%.
Last on the list are the ministries of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Equality, Justice, Science, Innovation and Universities and the Ministry of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare. Agriculture and Equality each have 26 freely appointed posts, a number that has remained unchanged in both cases. The Ministry of Justice even shows a decrease of 18%.
The Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities had five senior officials and seven temporary agents in 2020, bringing the total to 12, and by 2021 this number will be 18. Apart from all this, it should be noted that the Ministry of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare led by Alberto Garzón, cannot be compared with 2020, as it does not provide data on the number of officials, nor on the number of temporary agents. What is known is that it is now the ministry with the smallest number of officials. It has only 15 employees: 7 senior officials and 8 temporary advisers.
High costs in the context of a crisis
All this is taking place in the context of an economic crisis, marked by high inflation following the rise in energy costs and raw materials following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The surge in spending on senior officials and advisers is also occurring just as the government announced a new tax plan to raise a further €1billion from large fortunes, bringing the total to €4 billion.