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Country Forecast Spain June 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Spain June 2018 Updater

  • June 2018
  • ID: 360605
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit


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  • On June 1st Pedro Sánchez, the leader of the centre-left Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), became prime minister through a censure motion, unseating Mariano Rajoy, the leader of the former minority government of the conservative People's Party (PP). The new PSOE government has a minority of just 84 of 350 deputies in the Congress of Deputies (the lower house). Its legislative mandate is therefore likely to be tightly constrained. The Economist Intelligence Unit expects a new election to be held before the end of the parliamentary term, in mid-2020, possibly as soon as late 2019.
  • A fundamental part of Mr Sánchez's mandate will be to ease tensions in Catalonia, which staged an illegal referendum and declared independence unilaterally in October 2017, triggering a severe confrontation with the national government. Mr Sánchez has already begun the process of lifting direct rule.
  • Relations may become more productive over the near term, but we nonetheless expect a prolonged period of political wrangling. Catalonia is unlikely to leave Spain during the forecast period (2018-22), although there is a remote risk of this happening.
  • Following a budget deficit of 4.5% of GDP in 2016 and 3.1% of GDP in 2017, we expect the shortfall to contract to 2.2% of GDP this year, revised from 2.6% as a result of the passage by the former PP government of its 2018 budget, and Mr Sánchez's promise to respect it. The deficit will then fall to an average of 1.2% in 2019-22. Public debt is expected to fall to about 86% of GDP by the end of our forecast period.
  • Economic reforms in 2011-15-including substantial modifications to labour regulations, pensions and the tax code, among other policy areas-have improved the business environment. The PSOE government is unlikely to reverse these reforms, but does not have sufficient support to restart the country's reform drive either.
  • Following an expansion of 3.3% in 2016 and 3% last year, we forecast real GDP growth of 2.7% this year and an average of 2.1% in 2019-22.
  • After a current-account surplus of 1.9% of GDP in 2017, we expect the surplus to average 1.6% in 2018-22, buoyed by respectable export performance, even as the country's import bill rises.

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