Stranger in a Strange Teutonic Land

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

As is the case in all democratic societies, it is healthy for top government officials occasionally to get out and mingle among their constituents. That’s why Spanish government spokeswoman María Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría Antón recently was in Germany, as El Huffington Post reports.


In Germany?! Why sure: unemployment in Spain itself has gotten to be so bad that legions of Spaniards – those with true initiative, who in past centuries would have headed over to the Western Hemisphere – have moved to Germany to find places for themselves in the much better economic situation there. Brace yourself for the tide of funny stories sure to come as these two very different cultures collide – most expat Spaniards, for example, won’t even yet have an appetite at the outrageously early (for them) hours when they will find Germans sitting down to their evening meal.

Further, there are the two rather different languages. For what it’s worth, new Bayern München coach Pep Guardiola has seemingly dealt with that problem rather well (video here of his first Munich press conference), although I hasten to add that his own move there was hardly prompted by the same economic concerns.

In any case, we had the rather telegenic Ms. Santamaría there in Germany, where she was a guest on the popular morning TV show Morgenmagazine. The unstated question behind her appearance there must have been “So many Spaniards are here! What are you going to do about it?”

Turns out that much of what the Spanish government is trying to do about it actually involves Germany. On the show she expressed her admiration for that country’s apprentice-based youth training system and her government’s intention to adopt something similar. More concretely, Spain and Germany recently agreed to have 5,000 students from the former be trained within that system in the latter country.

But then the inevitable follow-up: Aren’t you afraid that most of those 5,000 will then simply stay in Germany after their training? Her response: “What we want is to create employment in Spain so that young people can freely decide whether they want to work in Germany or in Spain.” Well, indeed: let’s hope that Spain can make enough progress on the employment front to give itself at least even odds as the home country versus some other country when it comes time for young people to decide where their future lies!

But no worries. Ms. Santamaría further announced on behalf of her government an upcoming “program of reforms such as have never been seen in democratic history” to fix the national labor market and solve the problem. Spaniards now settling in Germany are also finding out how much less the natives are prone to hyperbole.

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