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Jaume Llopis, Professor, IESE Business School, University of Navarra

And in September what...?

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 11:11:49 +0000 Published in El Economista (Madrid)

A few days before the return to work, businessmen are asking themselves: what about September? Most likely it will be more of the same. Politicians against businessmen.

On the eve of the autonomic elections in Catalonia and the discussions and negotiations between PSC and PSOE, the internal war of the Madrid socialists, the PP with the only goal of the harassment and demolition of the Government, the banks and savings banks in plenary session of the Executive Council restructuring process, the poor businessman fighting alone without any support neither of the Public Administrations nor of the financial entities.

The only thing they can do, and many of them do it very well, is to satisfy the needs of their clients better than ever, to bet on innovation and internationalization and, against all odds, to continue undertaking despite the Government and our politicians.

Diminished confidence

More important than the financial crisis and the real estate crisis is the crisis of confidence. Nobody trusts anybody here. People don't trust politicians, banks don't trust each other and they don't trust their customers. We all distrust everyone.

What we need most is political leadership, and Spain has no leaders capable of generating confidence and collective enthusiasm. It is paradoxical that Spain, the country with the highest percentage of business leaders, scientists and doctors, sportsmen and artists recognized worldwide, does not have a single political leader of international prestige. There are our compatriots with worldwide fame, such as the eminent cardiologist Valentí Fuster, the physician Santiago Dexeus, scientists like Joan Massagué, sportsmen Fernando Alonso, Rafa Nadal, PauGasol, Dani Pedrosa, Vicente del Bosque, businessmen like Amancio Ortega, Emilio Botín, César Alierta, and many others, prestigious chefs, not only Ferrán Adriá, but also Sergi Arola, Santi Santamaría, lawyers like Antonio Garrigues, architects like Santiago Calatrava, painters like Antoni Tapies, artists like Ángel Corella, Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz, trend-setters like Custo Dalmau or Rosa Tous, etc.
"Mediocrity" of the political class

But we have no political leaders. They say that each country has the politicians it deserves. I do not know if we deserve them or not, but the mediocrity of our current political class is alarming, not only in terms of leadership and charisma, but even for its low intellectual level.

If to run a business or a hospital or to access a public employment a minimum of skills and knowledge is required, nothing is required to access the highest positions in politics. Paradoxically, it takes competitive examinations to get a civil servant position in an autonomous community or in the State, and nothing is required for those who are going to lead the autonomous community or the country.

In France, at least, most of the top politicians have previously passed through the prestigious ENA (National School of Administration), with the exception of Sarkozy. It is also embarrassing, at times, to observe that our highest political representatives do not have a moderately good command of even one foreign language .

This lack of leadership and political visibility abroad is not unrelated to the fact that we are not taken into account. Neither politicians nor lobbies capable of selling Spain internationally.

And that is what Spanish businessmen need. Leadership capacity to generate confidence, illusion and support for our companies at national and international level and that, by the way, does not exist in the employers' and trade union organizations either.

But as there is none of this, for the moment, September will come and businessmen will have to continue fighting bare-chested, against all odds, to move their companies forward.

Businessmen! Forget the politicians, adapt your companies to the difficult environment in which we live, try to have the consumer at the center and goal of all your actions, innovate, internationalize, seek alliances and fight, the country will thank you, the politicians will not.