News Europe Three pension reforms without major protests in Spain

Three pension reforms without major protests in Spain

Thousands of retirees and pensioners have gathered this Monday in front of the Bilbao City Hall.FERNANDO DOMINGO-ALDAMA

Spain has spent more than a decade reforming its pension system without the measures to tighten access to more generous benefits having provoked a social response of the dimension of the one experienced yesterday in France. The government of the socialist Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero approved in 2011 a legal change to lengthen the retirement age from 65 to 67 years and extended the calculation period to calculate the pension with the aim of closing the public deficit that began to register the system in that year and deal with the impact of the generation of baby boom. He did it hand in hand with the unions in a great social pact, which allowed the reform not to inflame society. At that time, austerity was beginning to take its toll on the Spanish economy, leading it to a state of convulsion. The worst of the Great Recession triggered by the mortgage crisis was over. subprime that led to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and led to the sovereign debt crisis with the attack of the markets on the countries of the south. In this context, Zapatero’s reform was barely rejected on the street.

Two years later, in 2013, the popular Executive of Mariano Rajoy tightened access to pensions even more. It limited revaluations and introduced a rigid corset, the sustainability factor, which practically froze benefits in the following years. He did it without an agreement with the unions, which forcefully rejected the reform. But the malaise did not reach the street either. The unions suffered wear and tear after the failure of the two general strikes they had called the previous year to protest against Rajoy’s labor reform. The centrals were dragging an internal crisis due to the ERE scandal and barely managed to mobilize a society with more than six million unemployed people (the unemployment rate exceeded 26% at that time). The social response would come five years later. In 2018, pensioners called for large mobilizations against the 0.25% increase proposed by the Rajoy government for that year. The protests got the PP to suspend part of its reform.

The next step for the pension reform occurred in 2020 through the Pact of Toledo in the Congress of Deputies. The recommendations report, approved by the major parties, found broad parliamentary support. Until now, the Government of Pedro Sanchez has applied the recommendations to link the revaluation of pensions to inflation, has dismantled the harshest measures of the Rajoy reform and, although it has approved legal changes to bring the real retirement age closer to the legally, it still has pending approval of the most controversial measures that will make it possible to cover the deficit of the system.

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