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OPINION: European governments were cautious on AstraZeneca vaccines but they were neither stupid nor ‘political’

It is the best of decisions and the worst of decisions. Everyone can claim to be right. Everyone is partly wrong, writes John Lichfield on the pausing of the AstraZeneca vaccination campaign across Europe.

OPINION: European governments were cautious on AstraZeneca vaccines but they were neither stupid nor 'political'
Photo: Christophe Stache/AFP

The European Medicines Agency handed down its judgement on Thursday. The AstraZeneca vaccine is effective and safe to use. Most European countries which had suspended AZ vaccinations are expected to resume today or in the next couple of days.

But – despite what is being reported by some – the EMA did not dismiss out of hand concerns that AZ shots can lead to blood clotting disorders in perfectly healthy young people.

The agency said that there was indeed evidence of “a small number of cases of rare and unusual but very serious” clotting problems associated with AZ.  Nonetheless, on balance, the EMA said, it had come to a “clear scientific conclusion” that AZ shots were safe to use. The huge benefits far outweighed the tiny risks.

Fair enough. Balance and clarity have been in short supply in this sorry saga until now.

Unfortunately, there is no sign that will change soon.

Were European governments wrong to suspend their AZ roll-out at the start of the week? The pause will undoubtedly have dangerous side-effects on vaccine resistance, and specifically AZ resistance, in European countries.

On the other hand, ploughing ahead regardless of the evidence of rare clotting disorders emerging in several places – in Norway, in Germany, in Austria and in Italy –  might have had an even more calamitous effect on public opinion.

Let us, for once, be fair to governments. They were placed in a very difficult situation. France, for instance, where there were very few AZ side-effects, did not want to suspend an AstraZeneca programme which had just started to take wing.

President Emmanuel Macron was bounced into his decision by a domino-tumble of suspensions imposed by Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and others.

France is the most vaccine-sceptic country in the world. How could Macron say that there was no reason to stop briefly to think when all his neighbours were stopping briefly to think?

READ ALSO How worried should France be about its vaccine-sceptics?

Little of this was reflected in the coverage in the British media. With some honourable exceptions, the consensus view in the UK was that the EU was being “stupid” or seizing on flimsy reasons to attack the AstraZeneca vaccines because a) AZ was British or b) AZ had failed to supply the EU with all its promised doses.

In other words, it was all “political”. In truth, it was the opposite. Politicians in a score of European governments decided, rightly or wrongly, that their political interest – the belatedly accelerating vaccine programme – must briefly give way to medical and legal considerations.

Only Belgium stood up to this trend. The Belgian government said that it would be “irresponsible” to interrupt an AZ vax roll-out which WOULD save thousands of lives because very rare side-effects  MIGHT take a handful of young, healthy lives.

That was a courageous decision by Belgium but I don’t think that it makes the decision taken by the others irresponsible. We live in a time of instant experts and easy answers but sometimes there are no easy answers.

It has been widely asserted in the UK media, and by the UK government, that there is no obvious connection between the AZ vaccine and clotting disorders. It is also asserted that such “thromboses” have actually been less common among the AZ-vaccinated than in the population as a whole.

Neither of these things, it now turns out, are true.

A Norwegian study found on Thursday that there was a clear link between AZ vaccinations and three youngish Norwegians who suffered rare brain thromboses or strokes, one of whom died. On Tuesday, Germany’s health ministry of health said that there had been seven cases of “cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), including three deaths, among the 1.6m million Germans people who had received an AZ shot. That was three or four times higher than the normal rate.

Science magazine reported that in five countries 13 people aged 20 to 50 had suffered from widespread blood clots, low platelet counts, and internal bleeding. Seven had died. This was “more frequent than would be expected by chance”.

“It’s a very special picture” of symptoms, said Steinar Madsen, medical director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency. “Our leading haematologist said he had never seen anything quite like it.”

I am not trying to start – or re-start – a scare story.

I think vaccination is great. I think the AZ vaccine is wonderful. One week ago I had my first shot in a French doctor’s surgery. It was AstraZeneca. I have a history of blood clotting problems. I have no regrets that I took the shot. I’m looking forward to my second in June.

The EMA and Belgium are right. The need to vaccinate rapidly against Covid is so urgent that, on balance, a small risk of clotting problems is a risk worth taking.

But that’s not so simple a choice as much of the British media – BBC included – would have us believe. Life-death accountancy is not straightforward.

Is it worth risking the lives of few young people who are broadly unthreatened by Covid to protect the lives of tens of thousands of vulnerable older people?

European governments had little choice but to stop to review the evidence. The easiest way to fuel anti-vaccine feeling in France – and probably other EU countries –  is to create the impression that vaccination is a politico-industrial juggernaut which cares nothing  for potential or actual side-effects.

Yes, EU countries are sometimes more risk-averse than Britain.

Yes, the UK has, so far, got away with, even hugely benefitted, from a series of risky short-cuts on vaccines.

Yes, the EU should find a way to make these common health decisions in advance, not after the damage is done.

Yes, President Macron and others were wrong to make baseless accusation against the AZ vaccine in the past.

Yes, the blood-clot scare will cause greater AZ-scepticism in the EU for a while (and then the effect will, hopefully, fade).

But for Britain to shout down understandable caution as “stupid” or “political” or “an EU attack on our vaccine” is foolish and hazardous. 

John Lichfield is the former foreign editor of the UK’s Independent newspaper. He also worked in Brussels covering the EU and spent 20 years as the France correspondent for the newspaper. He now writes opinion & analysis articles for a number of publications including The Local.

Member comments

  1. You have to make exceptions for the gammons as most only “read” the British guttersnipe press and believe every word that they print. Brexit is a prime example of that.

    1. Boggy, glad to see you and Joanne are sticking up for the privileged youth of Europe, lucky to have a choice of vaccines (when the EU eventually gets its act together?)
      Can I suggest that when you both are offered a vaccine, you decline to have it and request that your dose be donated to an older less privileged person in Africa or some other poor country who have no chance in the for seeable future of getting a life saving drug. You would of course give up any other entitlement to a vaccine, as this would mean stealing another person’s. Only fair don’t you think.
      As for me, i’m a gammon, guttersnipe reading older person who will have any vaccine offered and be thank full for it.

      1. You are obviously a prime example of a gammon. It’s such a great pity the Fourth Reform Act was passed and gave people like you and women the right to vote. My great grandfather used to say that England took a step back when women were allowed into the Lower House and it was even worse with the Life Peerages Act of 58′.

        Just because I would prefer the J & J vaccine does not mean I will participate in getting vaccinated. I prefer to let you guinea pigs test it first.

        1. Thats quite alright – choosing not to have the vaccine is entirely your right. However, it is worth remembering that Smallpox was eradicated because enough people had the vaccine. The only reason measles is still in circulation is because too many people refused the MMR – that has put the rest of the population at risk. So if you choose not to have the covid vaccine yet, just don’t expect to have the same freedom to interact with others until after you have had the vaccine as your choices shouldn’t impact on the health of others, just as you shouldn’t be forced to have the vaccine if you dont want it (unless of course there is a very god medical reason why you cant have the vaccine like allergy, pregnancy, suppressed etc).

      2. I quite agree – people who have no medical reason should not be permitted a choice of vaccine – if they choose to refuse a vaccine – as is their right – then they should go the bottom of the queue after everyone else. There are some very limited numbers of people where there is s a medical reason not to have a specific vaccine (allergy to ingredients, immunosuppressed, high risk of clotting etc) and that should be catered for, but for everyone else – take what you are offered or wait until everyone else has had their vaccines first.

      3. I have to donate to a less priviledged older person in Africa? Can you explain this opinion exactly please, because to me this does not make sense. It is the same as telling a child ‘eat your bread because in Africa children do not have bread’.
        It is the same as ‘this vaccine is safe because the WHO or whoeverr says so. The drug companies do not make statements ‘our vaccine is 100% safe’, they make sure not to be reliable if something goes wrong. And nobody knows at this point in time or it is as safe as anyone wants you to believe. Short term? reasonable safe. Long term? ???? nobody knows.
        Today they say A, tomorrow B, astrazeneca is today so safe that the french goverment does not allow it for under 55, while a week or two ago it was no good in the elderly. Are they crazy? maybe…… maybe they know more than we do………. maybe not crazy. Get a flower pull off the leaves, crazy, not crazy, crazy, not crazy, crazy etc. Time will tell…….

  2. Just refuse AZ, than the goverment will soon give a choice of vaccins! They want everyone vaccinated, I do not think many younger healthy people who will not die from covid like this risk! Why would you want to take it? Pain in the arm, feeling a bit tired, yes no problem to help others. Risking a brain bleed or death? not really. And even without the blood problems, nobody knows long term side effects yet, so how much risk is acceptable for the healthy younger population. Pain in arm plus tiredness plus some vague other side effects plus 0% guarantee this is safe long term, is enough risk in itself. So who refuses AZ is not a granny killer or selfish in my books!
    Am I going to take it when it is my turn in May or so? To be honest I feel very reluctant right now! Today they say A, tomorrow B. I think J&J is a better option, but who knows?

      1. That’s like delaying your car insurance. It might pay off for you , it might not. You’re assuming you won’t get the disease in the interim. Good luck.

          1. Yes but you are extremely unlikely to end up in hospital or die from Covid – seems like a no brainier

          2. Astrazeneca apparently changed name: Vaxzevria (previously COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca)
            Why? I guess because too many young died, now people refusing. They hope it is quickly forgotten, in the weeks to come they only mention Vaxzevria, and no association with Astrazeneca, until the same happens………oops. All feels a bit dodgy, like a cover up.

    1. Refusing the vaccine without a good medical reason to do so should absolutely not result in you getting a choice of other vaccines – it should put you to the bottom of the queue after absolutely everyone else. The only people who should have a “choice” in which vaccines in this circumstance are those who are medically at risk from a certain type due to allergy or preexisitng medical condition which makes a certain type of vaccine an issue for them. There are too many people waiting for vaccines for fussy people to be catered for. If you dont want the vaccine fair enough but then you shouldn’t expect another until after everyone else has had theirs. Just remember EMA, WHO and all of the recognised bodies have repeatedly stated these vaccines are safe (except in very limited circumstances for very specfiic types of people).

      1. wow, I prefer not to have an injectable stuck in my arm without knowing long term side effects. Have you read the patient leaphley from Astra zeneca? I have even called them. They are unable to explain when feeling naussia is just a commen side effect (more often than 1 in 10 or when you urgently need to call in medical care. The answer is ‘we do not suggest you take this vaccin nor do we say don’t take it. I refuse Astra zeneca, you obviously trust whtever they tell you. First it was useless in the old, now healthy young people dropped dead and voila, France says only for those over 55. They say that because the who or whoever told them it is perfectly safe. I prefer not to have AZ simply because most people react quite badly to it, some say that’s good, extra immunity, I think the reaction is too strong for most people and I think too this might trigger other responses, auto mmune problems later on. The fact that several healthy 20 to 50 year old dropped dead is something I find hard to accept as ‘the price to pay for sociery. Another point is the goverment want everyone vaccinated, if they want that they might give people choice and not threaten ‘if you do not take it now, your turn is last’. Well if they want it that way…… I wait. This strategy might be unwise because I am sort of a super spreader…….. by not changing my mask when I sneeze or cough, not poisoning myself with desinfected gel every time I enter a shop, by touching my mask, by being alife and breathing.

        1. I must comment on your statement that “ most people react quite badly to it “ that is the AZ jab. I live in the UK and know many, many people who have had the vaccine with no side effects other that a sore arm and/or feeling of tiredness.
          I agree in an ideal world we shouldn’t be injecting rapidly developed vaccines into people. However, I think you might have noticed that this not an ideal world and our chances of dying from Covid are massively higher than from a possibly resultant blood cot or any other possible side effect. But ultimately it is a personal decision and I respect people’s decision not to have a vaccine although I really do not understand it !
          Also a comment to the author of the article – the consensus in the UK is not that we think European decision making is stupid or political ( unless you take the “ gutter press “ seriously), we are just bemused by the lack of a clear plan and the constant smoke from various politicians trying to blame others for what has been a very poor vaccination programme from start to finish.

  3. Mr. Lichfield, how many people do you estimate will become seriously ill or die as a result of the suspension? I’II be surprised if that figure is lower than the estimated 40 (forty) in 17 million that caused the now discredited link between the vaccine and blood clotting; because there is no proven causal link. More damaging, is the further undermining of confidence to now take up the vaccine (look at earlier post as it’s now typical). You say you’re not trying to restart a scare story, then suggest that the UK has “so far, got away with, even hugely benefitted, from a series of risky short-cuts on vaccines.” A company wouldn’t usually consider mass producing a new vaccine until they were sure that it worked, that’s obvious. However, the UK initiative took the financial risk to mass-produce the AZ vaccine in advance of study results, just in case they were successful, which they were. The ‘risk’ was to the UK government. If this is what you meant, you should make it clear rather than leave it open to misinterpretation that the risk is applied to the vaccine itself. However, I’m pleased that you have received the AZ vaccine yourself. For clarity, to all readers, my understanding is that the WHO, the EU drug regulator, and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the vaccine as safe to use for all adults.

  4. It would help if a greater number of available vaccines had been administered instead of being left in the fridge or freezer! The EU is woefully slow in organising an effective vaccination programme, the result of which, the alarming resurgence of incidence and death rates, euro-wide.

  5. France waited on the EMA authorisations before starting their vaccination programme so why didn’t they follow their advice before stopping it ?

  6. Why don’t the authorities just get on with vaccinating the ‘forgotten’ tranche, and stop this pointless arguing about who’s vaccine it is. All the while its not in somebodies arm its useless.

  7. The EU “governments” have been both “stupid” and “political” sir, and many Europeans will now pay for it with their lives. The worst article I have read during this whole pandemic.

  8. This vaccine has undergone rigorous trials in the face of a pandemic. It has been authorised by the WHO, the EMA and MHRA and after today’s latest trials, shortly by the FDA. Macro et al should hang their heads in shame.

  9. I read a very long and detailed analysis of the issue with vaccine production and supply, especially as it relates to the AstraZeneca vaccine and the exclusivity clause that the British government inserted into their contract for supply (which is behind a large part of the supply issues into Europe). One comment that was made in that very long chain of discussion that is relevant here is this: Most EU countries take responsibility for the welfare of their citizens, and that demands caution when side effects were reported from this vaccine (as the side effects were statistically higher than expected). The UK government appears to have thrown caution to the wind and is willing to take risks with its population in its drive to get everyone vaccinated.

    You can decide for yourself which approach you prefer…If you think the risk is acceptable…I suspect if you think it is, it will remain acceptable only so long as it is not you or your loved ones that fall victim to that risk…

    1. Hi Rob. I think in reply I would say the view that the UK government has thrown caution to the wind and doesn’t take care of its citizens welfare is inaccurate, indeed very harsh. It was the UK government that financed the development of this vaccine which holds huge distribution advantages over many of the others when it comes to a global vaccination program. Equally, they have pursued strong lock-down measures, even if a week late in the first wave. Surely their strong pro-active vaccination approach including the 12 week vaccination gap (so that more people get protection) fully supports just how much they are caring for public health.
      The debate about this vaccines safety may continue for some time. Of course I understand that potential side-effects should not be ignored – that would be insane. But as at this time there is no proven link with the vaccine; indeed I have read (but not fact-checked) that the risk of clots is lower than that from taking the contraceptive pill. However what is for sure is the risk of hospitalization and death, even amongst the 18-49 year age group, from Covid, is significantly higher without being vaccinated.
      Meanwhile the virus is again out of control leading to further EU lockdowns and further economic hardship which will bring its own repercussions. I noticed Merkel said “everything is based on one principal and that is trust”. I wonder how many trust Sputnik V, a still unauthorised, adenoviral vaccine that may now be sourced from our beloved, trusted Russian friends.
      Terrible times. I hope everyone can receive their jab asap, whichever one is offered.

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POLITICS

Is Spain as corrupt as it was a decade ago?

Corruption doesn’t make the news as often as it used to in Spain. But as the nation drops in an international anti-corruption index for consecutive years, The Local looks into the statistics, the headlines, and main culprits to ask: is Spain as corrupt as it was a decade ago, and are things really getting worse?

Is Spain as corrupt as it was a decade ago?
Former king Juan Carlos’s dodgy dealings, Andalusia’s ERE corruption case and the Gurtel PP scandal have all continued to erode the trust Spaniards have in politicians and the monarchy. Photo: Oscar Del Pozo, Cristina Quicler, Fernando Alvarado/AFP

Last week, it emerged that Spain had dropped in the global ranking of the 2021 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) compiled by NGO Transparency International.

It dropped two places since 2020, to 34th internationally, and has actually fallen four places, from thirtieth, in less than three years. Its new position places it 14th among the 27 European Union member states, and in the bottom three of Europe’s biggest economies: only Italy and Poland (tied for 42nd place) finished behind Spain.

But what explains Spain’s steady decline? Is there anything that can explain the drop, have other countries cleaned up their act, or is Spain really becoming more corrupt? 

The rankings

Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranks 180 countries and territories around the world by their perceived levels of public sector corruption. Each is given a corruption score on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

Drawing on information sourced from survey data carried out by globally respected institutions such as the World Bank, the index considers several factors or indicators of bribery, studying how susceptible public institutions are perceived to be to bribery, embezzlement, officials who use public office for personal gain, institutions preventing anti-corruption and enforcement regulations, bureaucratisation and nepotism, among others.

One key takeaway from the 2021 Index is that corruption levels are stagnant worldwide, with “little or no progress” made in 86 percent of the countries evaluated in the index over the last ten years.

​​At the top of the perception list are Denmark, Finland and New Zealand, countries that, according to the Democracy Index, are also the top for civil liberties in the world. The countries who received the lowest scores, 11, 13, and 13, respectively, were Somalia, Syria and South Sudan.

Transparency International suggests that the world’s larger economies – such as Spain’s, which is among the top 15 in the world – should never receive a CPI score of below 70, especially if it wants to maintain its respect and competitiveness on the international scene. Yet in the 2021 CPI Spain received a 61/100, not only lower than the previous year but a score that places it below countries such as Chile, Uruguay, Lithuania, Estonia, the Bahamas, and Barbados.

transparency international

Map showing Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for 2021

Looking back

Using data available from past CPI studies, it becomes clear that Spain’s recent slip in the league table is not an anomaly but part of a longer-term trend. In 2000, Spain sat in 20th place with a score of 70 (or a 7.0, as the CPI was done on a 1-10 scale back then), and was neck and neck with countries such as France, Ireland, and Israel. Yet by 2005 it had slipped to 23rd place, albeit with the CPI score holding firm at around 70.

Yet by 2010 Spain dropped to 30th position, and its CPI score had dropped dramatically by 9 points to 61 (6.1 on the old scale). By 2015 the position had worsened, sinking to a score of 58 and flanked by Lithuania and Latvia, and in 2018 Spain ranked 41st in the world albeit with an unchanged CPI score of 58. 

It seems clear that Spain’s CPI score had been in steady decline for the last two decades. Since the year 2000, the perception Spaniards have of their public institutions and actors – whether it be political parties and politicians, the police force, public administrations, and local ayuntamientos – and their susceptibility to corruption has worsened.

But the statistic that sticks out in the CPI data is the sudden drop in trust in public institutions from 2005 to 2010. Was there something specific that could explain such a change in public opinion?

Corruption in the news

The infamous Gürtel case is perhaps one famous corruption case that could explain both the sudden drop in public trust between 2005 and 2010, and the steady decline in more recent years. The Gürtel case, a case that engulfed right-wing party PP in accusations of money laundering, tax evasion, and bribery, came to light in 2009 but the main suspects were not put on trial, or even publicly named in some cases, until late-2016, both periods of time when Spain’s CPI score dropped.

The corrupt activities involved party funding and the awarding of contracts by local and regional governments in Valencia and Madrid, among others. Judges estimated the loss to public finances was a staggering €120,000,000.

Operation Kitchen has dominated the headlines in more recent years, and could also be a contributing factor in Spain’s falling position in the CPI. It also follows on and is connected to the Gürtel case, neatly tying together over a decade of corruption in PP.

Known as “Operación Kitchen” because the code name of the alleged informant was ‘the cook’, the informant worked as a driver for the former treasurer of the Popular Party (PP), Luis Bárcenas, who in May 2018 was sentenced to 33 years in jail for his role in a kickbacks scheme which financed the party known as, you guessed it, the Gürtel case.  

SPAIN-POLITICS-CORRUPTION

Former PP treasurer Luis Barcenas in the National Court near Madrid in February 2021, on the first day of a new trial probing an illegal funding system run by the conservative party. (Photo by Juan Carlos Hidalgo / POOL / AFP)

 

The ruling led to the ousting of PP prime minister Mariano Rajoy in a confidence vote in parliament several days later. Public prosecutors allege the driver received €2,000 ($2,370) per month, as well as the promise of a job in the police force, in exchange for obtaining information regarding where “Bárcenas and his wife hide compromising documents” about the PP and its senior leaders.

The probe into “Operation Kitchen” is one of several which have been opened based on searches carried out following the arrest of José Manuel Villarejo, a former police commissioner who for years secretly recorded conversations with top political and economic figures to be able to smear them.

Of course, you can’t talk about corruption in Spain without talking about its royal family. Juan Carlos I, the now exiled former King of Spain, has a list of alleged corruption charges longer than a Spanish waiter’s order pad on a Saturday night: the Saudi rail payoffs, and money hidden in Swiss bank accounts; the mystery credit cards paid off by Mexican businessmen; the €10 million found in a Jersey bank account and, finally, his goat hunting trip with the President of Kazakhstan in which Juan Carlos left with armfuls of briefcases containing over €5 million in cash.

People hold banners reading “Nobody is better than anyone else” during a demonstration against the alleged corrupted monarchy in Madrid on July 25, 2020. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)

But corruption in Spain not only exists at the elite level; although the upper echelons of Spanish society – government, the royal family – have been tarnished by allegations of corruption, perhaps it is the perceived corruption of local and regional institutions that contribute to Spain’s falling CPI score.

Small town corruption is nothing new. Just this week, a councilwoman in tiny Alicante province beach town Santa Pola was arrested on suspicion of taking up to €40,000 in bribes over several years, and handing out catering contracts for money and favours.

The ongoing environmental scandal at Murcia’s Mar Menor has also been stained by corruption allegations. Former Minister of Agriculture in the region, Antonio Cerdá, is facing up to six years in prison for fraud and embezzlement and his role in the pollution of Murcia’s Mar Menor lagoon.

But police forces across Spain are no better, it seems. As the Catalan Generalitat investigates corrupt Mossos in its police force, port authorities and Guardia Civil agents across Spain, including Catalonia and Algeciras in Andalusia, have been arrested for taking bribes to turn blind eyes to drug trafficking. 

Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, local Mayors across Spain and its territories have been caught out using their position and influence to queue-jump and get vaccinations before vulnerable groups.

Looking ahead

Perhaps the combination of this low-level corruption, and the slow-term eroding effect it has on public trust in institutions, with the more high-profile national cases that envelop kings and politicians explains Spain’s steady decline in the CPI score. Social media undoubtedly plays another role, as it provides Spaniards with minute by minute, rolling twenty-four hour news coverage of every misdeed anyone in public life does that they didn’t have in the past, yet, judging by the CPI data available, it does seem that public opinion in Spain is swayed by events.

The noticeable drops in public trust in institutions between 2005-2010, and again around 2018, mirror major national scandals, and perhaps Spain isn’t necessarily headed on the downward trajectory the figures would suggest, and it isn’t set to tumble further down the corruption league tables.

A local corruption case in Andalusia might encapsulate this best, and why many think Spain is, on balance, not quite as corrupt as its CPI suggests or Spain was ten or twenty years ago, that the culture of corruption in Spain is generational, and that things have steadily improved over time.

Seville judge Mercedes Alaya has been investigating the ERE corruption scandal for almost eleven years, but the case has been so far reaching, and the allegations so vast, that with time many of the accused have simply died before they could stand trial. Many in Spain hope the culture of corruption will also die with their generation, and that of old PP politicians and exiled-Kings who create major news stories and sully Spain’s reputation at home and abroad.

Judging by the CPI rankings, Spain has been on a downward trend.

A multitude of factors could contribute to the worsening public perception of corruption in Spain: greed, social media, a constant news cycle, small town politics, payoffs, bungs, bribes, major national scandals, exiled kings; however on balance, one must hope that the ERE case in Seville will be a precursor for Spain’s perceived problems with corruption, and that the culture that it comes from will die off in the future.

If Spain is to emerge from the pandemic economically secure, rekindle the trust between the public and its institutions, and live up to its position as one of Europe’s major players, it better hope so.

By Conor Patrick Faulkner in Seville.

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