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“Mr Bean” calls it a day! PDF
Friday, 29 July 2011 00:00

The Spanish prime minister, Josè Luis Rodrìguez Zapatero, commonly known here in Spain by his nickname "Mr Bean", today brought forward the general election scheduled for March 2012 to November 20 this year.

According to Mr Zapatero Spain is struggling to cope with soaring bond rates and high unemployment. He said he had made the decision in order to bring greater "political and economic certainty" to a country that many see as a key to the future of the eurozone. "I want a new government to take control of the economy from January 1 next year," said Zapatero. "It is convenient to hold elections this autumn so a new government can take charge of the economy in 2012, fresh from the balloting."

Zapatero imposed austerity measures and reforms last year as sovereign debt markets threatened to push his country into a situation similar to Portugal, Greece and Ireland, all of which needed bailouts. He said key reforms would be completed by September and further deficit-reducing measures would come next month.

Unemployment is running at 21%, according to second quarter figures released today. The figure came despite a booming tourist season, helped by holidaymakers' nervousness about visiting Arab countries like Tunisia and Egypt.

A poll this week by the state-owned Centre for Sociological Investigation gave the opposition rightwing People's party (PP) led by Mariano Rajoy, which did well in the local elections in May, a seven-point lead over the socialists.

That would be enough for the reformist PP to govern, though it would not win an absolute majority and would have to rely on parliamentary support from conservative nationalist parties in Catalonia or the Basque country. Zapatero, who has served two terms since 2004, is being replaced as the party's candidate for prime minister by Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, a former deputy prime minister who would like to take the party further to the left. He would also embrace some demands of the so-called "indignant" protest movement that has taken to Spain's streets in recent months.

Rajoy has promised he would be a centrist, moderate prime minister.

So, just as in the UK a year ago, it seems that Spain is cautiously moving towards a conservative government, although not convincingly so.

© Paul Whitelock

Tags: Mr Bean, Spanish prime minister, Josè Luis Rodrìguez Zapatero, general election, political and economic certainty, eurozone, Unemployment, Centre for Sociological Investigation, PP, Mariano Rajoy, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, paul whitelock, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,


Paul Whitelock

Paul is a Joint Honours graduate in Spanish and German, a qualified teacher (PGCE) and has a Member of the Institute of Linguists (MIL) qualification.

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