Spain´s image abroad has not suffered damage due to pandemic

by Lorraine Williamson
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MADRID – In general, the corona pandemic has dented people’s perception of their own country and that of other countries. However, although Spain is less appreciated by the Spaniards themselves, Spain´s image remains popular abroad

This is shown in the most recent research by the Spanish think tank Instituto Elcano. According to the research results, Spain “still has a very positive image abroad”. Furthermore, it has managed to maintain the same position in the ranking of European countries as in 2018. Spain is in second place, after Germany, but equal to countries such as Italy, France and England. 

Spaniards see corruption, a weak economy and poverty 

 In Spain itself, however, the evaluation is of a completely different nature. Here, the corona pandemic has ensured that Spaniards themselves have little good to say about their country. The negative picture is mainly the result of corruption, the weak economy and poverty in Spain. 

The study took place between January 27 and February 1.  Almost a year after the start of the pandemic, 4,400 people from eleven different countries were interviewed. In general, the valuation for other countries is lower this year than in previous years. The UK in particular suffered image damage, which, according to Instituto Elcano, is in all probability the result of Brexit. 

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Positive image 

When it comes to tackling the corona crisis, Spain has scored 5.9 – the second best score. The corona policy is much less appreciated by the Spaniards themselves with a 4.8. In the questionnaire, foreigners were asked whether they consider a set of characteristics applicable to Spain. For example,

  • 84% said they found Spain tolerant
  • 83% think Spain inspires confidence;
  • 79% think that Spain is democratic and solidarity-based
  • 75% describe the country as strong and hardworking
  • 74% attribute pacifist qualities to Spain
  • 73% say Spain is fair
  • 57% would describe Spain as rich and urban
  • 72% also call the country religious
  • 66% traditional, because of the traditional folk festivals such as Las Fallas, Los Sanfermines and the Easter processions. 

If this question on Spain´s image is asked to the Spaniards themselves, Spain will come out a lot less attractive. Almost a third of those questioned (64%) think the country is corrupt, while only 27% of foreigners are given that opinion. 52% of Spaniards think their own country is weak (versus 27% of foreigners) and 62% think Spain is poor (versus 43% of foreigners). 41% of the population calls Spain a lazy country, versus 25% of foreigners. 

Pandemic harms self-image, but international image remains good 

Instituto Elcano concludes from this latest study, the pandemic has put a dent in the already low self-esteem of Spaniards. Meanwhile, the image of Spain remains unabatedly positive in the eyes of foreigners. This was trend already observable before the corona pandemic. 

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