Spain a Pessimistic Nation?

This morning I did my declaración de la renta (tax return). Just as I was saying politely to the funcionario (civil servant) attending me, Perdone, tengo una cita previa a las 9.40 (Excuse me, I have an appointment at 9.40), the man turned round to greet his colleague behind him: Quillo, ¿ya te has fumado un cigarro?” (Mate, have you had your ciggy break already?). I didn’t get a, “Good morning”, a “Just a second Madam”, or even an acknowledgement…

When the man turned back to me, he gave me a number, which one of his other two compañeros (colleagues) would call out when it was my turn…

Rather than pessimistic, I would describe Spain as conformist. The Spaniards are mostly deeply fond of their country and culture, both of which are extremely charming and attractive. Spanish people know how to enjoy life, and they have the climate, geography, food and traditions to do so.

A sizeable percentage of entrepreneurial Spaniards, do enjoy taking risks. Yet, as a nation, the Spaniards are not generally risk-takers. Why would they want to put at stake what they highly appreciate, when there are few incentives to do so?

Other nationalities are more prone to leaving everything: families, friends, and loved ones for a professional opportunity. This extreme is not desirable either.

However, in Spain, up until now, the greatest aim of many has been to become a funcionario. They are on average the best paid jobs, and once you pass the long, harsh and painful exams ‘Oposiciones’ (many Spaniards have to repeat them for years…) to achieve one, it becomes “A job for life”; it is virtually impossible to get fired…

Hardworking and passionate civil servants do exist, but there are also countless funcionarios like my ‘friend’ this morning. The system does not give them incentives to do the best they can, and this affects productivity and quality in some of the main public services

Conformist, yes. Pessimistic? Not in every sense. How could a country that is so beautiful, cheerful, culturally rich and talented at sport (ignoring last night’s performance!), be pessimistic?

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4 comments on “Spain a Pessimistic Nation?

  1. I agree, Spaniards in general are not risk takers – this is so culturally ingrained in them. Have you ever been to the park and heard mum, dad or the yaya yell to the kids “no corrás, cairas”. The kid trips, they come pick them up brush them off and they get a stern “I told you so”. How can they become risk takers!?

    • That’s a really interesting observation. I think that the current situation is making more Spaniards take risks, and I hope that this will be one of the long term “benefits” of the crisis for Spain. I also think that fear of taking risks is a universal quality, which plagues and handicaps us all at times.

  2. That’s a really interesting observation. I think that the current situation is making more Spaniards take risks, and I hope that this will be one of the long term “benefits” of the crisis for Spain. I also think that fear of taking risks is a universal quality, which plagues and handicaps us all at times

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