Spain Today: Dialogues on crisis, recovery and populism (Utrecht University – Minbuza) 21 October

Spanish Studies at Utrecht University has organized an international conference entitled “Spain Today”, commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which will take place on Friday 21 October 2022, in Drift 21, Utrecht. Several experts will debate on Dutch-Spanish viewpoints: on the crisis, economic recovery, and political change in Europe.

spain today 2022

Following the success of the “Italy Today” event organized at Leiden University in 2019, the idea behind Spain Today is to delve into the political and socio-economic situation of Spain, starting from a set of current urgent issues and narratives with which the countries are associated with, and bring them to the table for discussion and comparison with the Netherlands. These (sometimes delicate) matters will be introduced and discussed by professionals and experts in the field.


For years, the Spanish Transición (from dictatorship to democracy) and economic growth were praised by many people, both in Europe and the Americas. However, the 2008 economic crisis hit hard on the Southern countries, especially Spain, where its financial system and its public-sector administration continue to be a source of weakness. The economic crisis also meant the birth of populist political parties that have changed the political spectrum in the country.

Recent polls and regional elections (e.g. Castilla y León and Andalucía) indicate that Spaniards are less supportive of the current left-wing coalition in the government (socialist PSOE and populist UP) than ever after the COVID pandemic, controversial measures, the consequences of the war in Ukraine, and a new social and economic crisis. At the same time, as happened with left-wing Podemos in the past, right-wing Vox is increasing, while centre liberal party Ciudadanos is on the verge of collapse after 16 years in the political landscape.


9:15 Registration
9:30 Introductory notes by Rebeca Fernández Rodríguez (Co-coordinator of Spanish Studies from Utrecht University), Taco Stoppels (Head of Western Europe Division of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
9:45 Guadalupe Sánchez Baena will be introduced by Stefanie Massink

“What trends or developments do we see in Spain and the Netherlands regarding (the rise of) populism in politics (perhaps also related to a fragmented political landscape)? What are the differences and similarities of these developments, and how can we perhaps explain them?

10.30 Break
10:45 Rafael Galán del Río will be introduced by Maartje Bakker (former Volkskrant correspondent in Spain and current Science specialist)
“Approaches to (financial-)economic policy in general and the economic fall-out of the war in Ukraine. How these financial-economic discussions can impact bilateral relations (negatively, but also positively: what opportunities are there to cooperate/bridge the gap?)?”
11:30 Panel & Debate, moderated by Maartje Bakker.
12:20 Endnotes by Taco Stoppels and Rebeca Fernández Rodríguez
12.30 Lunch


Guadalupe Sánchez is a practising lawyer and manager of Novalex Spain. Author of the book Populismo punitivo (2020 Ed. Deusto). She writes for The Objective and contributes to the radio programme Herrera en Cope.

Rafael Galán del Río (Perpe), an Economist and telecommunications engineer, founder of, a leading data and graphics website, who has been recognised as one of the most influential economists on social media for several years.

Stefanie Massink is an Assistant Professor of History of International Relations, focusing on democratization and regime change, Dutch foreign policy, Spain in the world, as well as Dutch-Spanish relations.

For more information, please contact Rebeca Fernández Rodríguez (