Anger over Spanish MP’s tale of scraping by on €5,100 a month

A Spanish lawmaker’s hardship tale of barely scraping by on €5,100 a month has prompted a deluge of derision in recession-hit Spain.

The conservative Popular Party MP, Guillermo Collarte, who serves in the national parliament, the regional parliament of northeastern Galicia, and as a town councillor, poured out his tale of financial woe to local newspaper Voz de Galicia.

“Between the €416 they give me as a councillor, which does not cover anything, the €4,200 net, roughly, I earn as a deputy and the €290 I earn for time served in the assembly, I get about €5,100 in all, and I have a pretty tough time of it,” he complained.

In a country with one in four workers jobless, many of them receiving just €400 a month after their regular unemployment benefits expire, the reaction was not entirely sympathetic.

The minimum salary in Spain is just €641 a month.

“Poor guy, I feel his pain,” said one user’s comment on Twitter, part of a flood of indignant messages tagged #verguenza (shame).

“If you have a tough time of it, imagine how it is for others,” said one commentator.

“I think you should resign, you would be doing society a service,” added another. “What’s more, you would earn more in a private company.”

On Sunday evening the MP, who was also criticised by colleagues in the ruling Popular Party, apologised on Cadena Ser radio, saying he had only been speaking “figuratively”.

“I apologise to all who may have felt offended, I know perfectly well that there are people with €400 or €500 and many people with nothing, who are really suffering.”

In July, another Popular Party MP, Andrea Fabra, apologised for using an expletive meaning “screw them” in parliament when prime minister Mariano Rajoy announced a reduction in unemployment benefits.

Fabra insisted she was speaking of the opposition Socialist Party but her comment was widely seen as a criticism of the unemployed.

It later became a slogan widely brandished in street protests.


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