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Infrastructure and the Political Economy of Nation Building in Spain, 1720–2010
Epilogue: And Now, A Spain Like
If anybody is interested in a critique of HST [High Speed Travel] and infrastructures in general and can read Spanish, there’s a killer book by Germà Bel called España, capital París, exposing the madness of mixing politics and infrastructures.
The solution proposed by Professor Bel is simple but hardly likely to be welcomed by centralist governments. It requires recognition by the Madrid government not only that a fundamentally radial policy flies in the face of the dynamics of economic activity but also that it brings in its wake the need for uneconomic subsidies. Radial policies have little economic rationale but merely respond to a historic pattern, the quest to make Spain like France, with a capital like Paris. Professor Bel thus explains why Spanish infrastructural policy is so different and so much more inefficient than that of its neighbours. From the Preface by Series Editor Paul Preston
Germà Bel’s book develops a rich and insightful analysis of the politics of nation building which have dominated the policy of transport infrastructure development in Spain since the nineteenth century. This policy, he argues, has followed a conscious and clearly planned design, which has contributed to transforming the capital city of Madrid into the economic, and above all, the political centre of Spain. One of the main theses of the book is that Spanish governments have consistently, since the nineteenth century, used public transport infrastructure policies as a way of advancing a Spanish nation-building project aimed at promoting a Spanish state that is highly centralized, both politically and economically. Reviewed in European History Quarterly, by Nagore Calvo Mendizabal, King’s College London
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