Banking rescue stuns Spanish press
Spain's 100-billion-euro ($125-billion) banking rescue stunned the press, whose front pages Sunday blared the word "rescue" and tried to explain Madrid's dramatic U-turn.
“Rescue for Spain” blared the leading daily El Pais.
“Spain, finally, will be rescued,” it said, after an accord that defied repeated denials by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government that the banks had any need of external help.
The paper said eurozone powers that agreed the deal were also saving themselves.
“Without yesterday’s bold decision not only would the Spanish banks and Spain as a whole have faced bankruptcy, but also the common currency, still waiting for the decisive Greek elections next Sunday, would have been condemned to break up and disappearance,” it said.
“This tragedy, for the moment, has been averted.”
It could not resist a dig at the prime minister, however, for not addressing the country.
“Rajoy yesterday lost a great opportunity to explain everything to the citizens on an historic, although painful, day for the Spanish people,” the paper said.
Catalonia’s regional daily El Publico simply headlined: “Rescue under pressure”.
But other newspapers sought to put a positive spin on the news.
“Rescue without humiliation,” said the conservative daily El Mundo.
“If the news is bad in itself, the government’s poor communication helped to make it look a bit worse. Just over a week ago, Rajoy said emphatically that Spain does not need this aid. And just hours before announcing it, the government carried on denying,” the paper said.
But Spain’s situation was not the same as that of the bailed-out nations Ireland, Portugal and Spain, El Mundo insisted, neither in the size of the programme as a proportion of economic output nor in the conditions.
Madrid managed to avoid the tough conditions imposed in the previous eurozone rescues, it said.
“Although it is true that the government has not got what it wanted, it managed to save Spain from an intervention in the strict sense, and thus from the humiliation,” the paper argued.
Nevertheless, the paper said, it was bitter medicine.
“It is not right to talk about a sweet rescue because any rescue implies a failure but the government at least managed to ensure that the bitter medicine was prescribed with artificial sweetener,” it said.
The conservative ABC was the only major daily not to use the word “rescue” on the front page, headlining instead: “Europe will finance the banks without conditions for Spain.”
“Patience bore fruit. Mariano Rajoy’s government, which stoically resisted pressure from its European partners to ask for a rescue, yesterday formally requested European aid to inject money into Spanish banks,” ABC said.
“An aid that, as the Spanish executive wanted, does not suppose conditions for the citizens nor for Spain. It only has requirements for the rescued banks.”
Even sporting dailies found a way to use the rescue word on front pages devoted to the Euro 2012 football tournament by praising the Spain team, known as the Reds.
“Reds come to the rescue” of a competition judged disappointing so far, headlined rival sports papers AS and Mundo Deportivo.
Despite the positive consequences of a banking lifeline, it is still a “hard blow psychologically,” admitted El Pais.
“In a country where national identity and feelings of collective self esteem have always been tightly linked to successes in Europe, it is incredible that we have come to this,” it said.