Monthly Archives: September 2011

Duran: Obama’s comments are irresponsible

Spain’s political leaders have been reacting to President Obama’s comments this morning.

Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida (pictured), spokesman of the CiU in Congress, has been particularly outspoken about his views on the US premier’s earlier remarks. President Obama’s suggestion that Spain was the Eurozone’s next big problem was “not the most responsible thing to do,” Duran said this afternoon.

He added: “All leaders should be responsible in moments as delicate as this. I do not believe that President Obama is in the best position to give lessons to the rest of the world, because the North American economy also has a very significant deficit.”

The spokesman for the PP in Congress, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, was less critical of Obama, although politely reminded him that those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. She said: “In the PP we want Spain to turn the page on the convulsions and uncertainties that we have been living through these past months, and I imagine that Mr Obama himself wants the same for the United States”.


Zapatero makes final appearance before Senate

The outgoing Prime Minister, José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero has made his last appearance before the Senate today.

Speaking to the nation’s upper legislative body this afternoon Zapatero conceded that he would like to have been able to reform the role of the Senate during his premiership, and lamented that he had been unable to do so.

The spokesman for the Partido Popular in the Senate, Pío García-Escudero, dispensed with hostilities and instead paid tribute to the way Zapatero had comported himself before the Senate during his years as Prime Minister, and for his regular appearances to answer questions from the Senators.

Zapatero, who has decided not to seek re-election, will make one final appearance before Congress before both chambers rise and the election campaign begins officially.

Chaves and Bono kiss and make up after spat

Readers will be pleased to hear that after their little spat yesterday over whether it is time for the old guard of the PSOE to stand aside for a new generation, Manuel Chaves and José Bono have publically kissed and made-up.

The President of the PSOE and the President of Congress declared themselves to be “great friends” this morning, in a bid to downplay the appearance of rifts at the heart of the socialist party.

“Pepe Bono and I are great friends,” Chaves declared at a breakfast meeting this morning, “and sometimes between friends there are unnecessary tiffs”.

Their row had come after Bono decided not to put himself forward for re-election at the forthcoming general election, preferring to hand over to a new generation of socialist leaders. Chaves, the current President of the PSOE and Vice President of the Government, took offence and seemed to accuse Bono and others of throwing in the towel now that victory seems difficult.

Aguirre not expecting invitation to join government

As the polls continue to indicate a thumping victory for the PP in November’s general election, the speculation over who will form Mariano Rajoy’s Government has already begun. 

However one party heavy-weight has today claimed that she is not expecting a phone call from her leader should the conservatives take power in ten weeks’ time.

Esperanza Aguirre (pictured), who was re-elected President of the Madrid region in May, is often portrayed in the press as the closest thing Rajoy has to a rival within the PP. This morning she told reporters that she is not expecting an invitation to join the Government because “Rajoy wants me in Madrid”.

When asked whether she would support a possible ministerial appointment for current Mayor of Madrid, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, a smiling Aguirre replied that “everything” her party leader does seems to her to be “absolutely wonderful”.

It would be safe to interpret these comments as a light-hearted dig at all stories of rivalry between the two big beasts of the PP.

Government accused of stuffing embassies with “yes-men”

Newspaper ABC carries an interesting story this morning about concerns that the Government has been busy filling up its embassies world-wide with sympathetic ambassadors, to make life difficult for the Partido Popular should they win in November’s General Election.

The paper reports that since September last year 71 new appointments have been made, a dozen of which were made after the announcement by Prime Minister Zapatero that the elections would be brought forward to November.

So many appointments at the fag-end of a parliament has raised eyebrows and led the PP to question whether the Government is trying to tie the hands of an incoming conservative administration.

PP sources told the newspaper that if they win they will study each appointment on a “case by case” basis, and will not hesitate to repeal any appointments that they see fit.

Foreign Minister Trinidad Jiménez (pictured) has expressed her anger at the PP’s complaints, saying that the Government is well within its rights to appoint ambassadors and diplomats at any point of a parliamentary term.


Obama fears Spain could be Eurozone’s next “big problem”

All eyes are on the economy again in Spainthis morning. The news that Greece may not have enough money left to pay public sector workers and pensions has caused panic in the markets.

Particularly badly affected was the Spanish Ibex stock exchange, which tumbled as Greece’s admission about their financial nightmare led to panic.

The flames of worry have been fanned somewhat by the President of the United States, Barack Obama (above), who has warned that the sovereign debt crisis in Spain poses a “great problem” to the Eurozone’s recovery. He rightly urged the Eurozone members to act fast to seek a common economic policy and deeper fiscal integration to deal with the sovereign debt crisis which threatens to spread to Spain and Italy. Obama also called on countries with a budget surplus to help those in crisis, an act which he believes will steady the markets and give them confidence.

The Spanish Government has so far refused to comment on President Obama’s remarks – Economic Minister Elena Salgado sidestepped questions by reporters this morning on the issue.

However, the PSOE’s presidential candidate, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, appearing alongside Salgado, explained that Obama was simply urging Eurozone members to “stop the contagion”. He went further, suggesting that the key is to resolve the Greek problem and “isolate” that country to prevent contagion to the rest of the economies.

Another one bites the dust – and Chavés has had enough

We noted earlier that serving ministers were jumping ship and not seeking reelection at an alarming rate. As we mentioned before, this emphasises how low morale is in the PSOE camp, and how unlikely victory seems even for those at the very top. It is also a very poor reflection on their belief in their own presidential candidate, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba.

Now the announcement of José Bono (left), the President of the Congress, that he will not seek reelection and his suggestion that the old guard of the PSOE should make way for a younger generation has finally made one of Rubalcaba’s loyal lieutenants flip his lid. Manuel Chavés, the current Third Vice President of the Government and President of the PSOE, has hit out at colleagues who are throwing in the towel for an easier life. “It is easy,” he said this afternoon, “to give up when a large hole has opened in the boat.”

“I believe that everyone is needed – including Mr Bono,” he continued. “I am the President of the Socialist Party and I have a responsibility; nobody in my party would understand if I were to give up now”.

Nobody, that is, except Bono…or Salgado…or Sebastián…etc…

PP set to gain absolute majority according to latest poll

Newspaper El País today carries a poll with devastating conclusions for the PSOE. According to their survey, the Partido Popular is well on track to achieve an absolute majority at the General Election, with a whopping 14.1 percentage point lead over the ruling Socialist party.

In a further blow to the PSOE candidate Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, only 37% of Socialist supporters believed he had the right policies to get the country out of the economic mess, and only 19% of the people polled thought he was a leader who inspired confidence.

The poll is not all good news for PP leader Mariano Rajoy (pictured), whose personal popularity ratings were nearly as low as Rubalcaba’s (22%), but he will take comfort from the fact his party is nonetheless on course for a thumping electoral victory in ten weeks’ time.

Carme Chacón officially heads PSC lists

Ministra de Defensa, Dña. Carme Chacón PiquerasAlthough his ministrial colleagues might be jumping the proverbial ship in their droves, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba can at least take some comfort in seeing his colleague and Defence Minister, Carme Chacón, officially chosen to head the list of Socialist candidates in Catalunya today.

However, considering some months ago Chacón was positioning herself for the PSOE’s leadership – which she eventually conceded to Rubalcaba – he will no doubt be reassured that she is coming into battle alongside him, and not at all worried that she has her eye on his job should the Socialists suffer a heavy defeat in November…

More Ministers Abandon Rubalcaba and Seek Life Outside Politics

Opinion polls suggest that Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba has a mountain to climb if he wants to ensure a third successive win for the PSOE at the general election in November.

He will hardly be encouraged, therefore, to hear that yet another of his ministerial colleagues has decided to abandon their political career and pursue other interests.

Both Elena Salgado, Economy Minister, and Miguel Sebastián, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism announced they would be retiring from front-line politics at the general election.

Then, Minister of Science and Innovation Cristina Garmendia announced last week that she plans to renter the private sector at the end of this legislative period.

And now Minister of Education, Ángel Gabilondo, has revealed that, contrary to rumours, he has declined Rubalcaba’s invitation to join the lists and contest a parliamentary seat inValencia.

The decisions of these ministers not to contest the next election is hardly a ringing endorsement or a vote of confidence for Rubalcaba. Rather it belies a tired and outdated party, and shows how little the Socialists themselves – even those at the helm – believe in victory.