Germans damn ‘lazy’ and corrupt Spaniards

Half of all Germans don't trust Spanish people while nearly as many think Spaniards are lazy, a new study shows.

Germans damn 'lazy' and corrupt Spaniards
Germans are a lot less positive about people in Spain than they were twenty years ago. Photo: Andrew E. Larsen

These are the findings of a new poll on "Brand Spain" run by Spain's Real Instituto Elcano.

The influential think tank interviewed people in Germany, France, the UK, Mexico, Russia and China to gauge the international mood on all things Spanish.

Their results show just how much Spain's image among the Germans has suffered in the last two decades.

In 1996, during the days of the so-called 'Spanish miracle', only ten percent of Germans mistrusted the Spanish. But this figure now stands at 50 percent.

Germans are also now much more likely to call the Spaniards lazy.

Back in the mid-1990s, two out of every ten German thought Spaniards didn't work much. Now that figure has doubled so that four out of ten Germans believe Spaniards to be lazy.

Similarly, in 1996, 80 percent of Germans described Spain as a strong country. 

The latest research by the Real Instituto Elcano shows, however, that 44 percent of Germans now think Spain is a weak nation. 

The study also found that Germans tend to consider Spain a traditional country, although the percentage who think so slipped from 85 percent to 77 percent from 1996 to 2013.

It's not a lost cause for Spain, though. On a scale of one to ten, the Germans still hand Spain a 6.1.

French people rated Spain the most highly in the study, giving the country 6.4 out of 10 while Chinese people only scored Spain at 4.5.

The Chinese, however, were much less likely than other nationalities to think Spaniards were corrupt.

Only 20 percent of survey respondents in China thought Spain was corrupt compared to 48 percent of Germans. 

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Spanish court probes Russian tycoon’s purchase of supermarket chain Dia

Spain's top criminal court said Thursday it has opened an investigation into whether Russian tycoon Mikhail Fridman artificially depressed the share price of supermarket chain Dia before buying the firm.

Spanish court probes Russian tycoon's purchase of supermarket chain Dia
File photo of a Dia supermarket. Photo: AFP

The Kremlin-friendly oligarch appeared in court in Madrid on Monday as part of a separate similar case in which judges are investigating allegations he acted to bring down the value of another Spanish takeover target, digital entertainment firm Zed Worldwide.   

He denied all charges in that case in a statement released after he was questioned in court.

An investigating judge with the National Court “has begun investigating a complaint” against Fridman and his Luxembourg-based investment company LetterOne “in connection with its acquisition of Dia”, according to a document from the court published Thursday.   

In May, LetterOne secured majority control of the struggling supermarket chain via a hostile takeover following a bitter dispute with its previous management as the firm's share price slumped.

The judge is investigating allegations made in an anonymous complaint that LetterOne “maintained a heightened financial tension to lower the share price, until it managed to buy the company,” the court document said.

Spain's Supreme Court had in September given the National Court a mandate to investigate this case which it said could constitute the crime of “market manipulation” and could have had “serious repercussions on… the national economy” given the size of Dia's supermarket network in the country, the document added.

It cited a police report alleging that Fridman acted in a “coordinated and concerted way” through a network of “criminal associates… to create a situation of conflict… and lack of liquidity in the short term” so as to lower Dia's price and buy the firm.   

In a statement, LetterOne called these allegations “totally false and defamatory”.

“The reality is Dia suffered from mismanagement and accounting irregularities were discovered, which negatively affected all shareholders, including LetterOne,” it added.

LetterOne said it was “committed” to investing 1.6 billion euros to protect jobs, suppliers and keep stores open.

Through LetterOne, Fridman also controls interests in telecoms, banking, oil and healthcare.   

The tycoon, who is reportedly close to the Kremlin and was listed by Forbes this year as London's richest resident, is also one of the founders of Alfa Bank, Russia's largest privately-held lender.

READ MORE: From Russia with love: Tycoon buys out ailing Spanish supermarket