Category Archives: Mariano Rajoy

Sarkozy strikes again

French President Nicolas Sarkozy renews his attack on the Spanish Economy (photo: Downing Street)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has this morning renewed his negative comments about the state of the Spanish economy. Fresh from yesterday’s attack on the socialist policies which brought Spain to its knees, Sarkozy this morning said on French Radio: “Do you think the French people want to follow the fortunes of Greece and Spain?”

The comments, although hardly extensive, have hit the headlines in the Spanish media once again. Yesterday’s comments were easily played down by Spain’s Economy Minister Luis de Guindos, as part of an electoral campaign to warn of the dangers of socialism. However, renewing the attack in less than 24 hours is starting to look like the French premier is talking the Spanish economy down – something which Spain’s Government are desperate to avoid as the market views their economy with suspicion.

If yesterday’s comments were unhelpful, then today’s will be downright irritating to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his colleagues, as they try desperately to restore market confidence in their reforms and economic policies.

Disappointing Bond Auction Knocks Confidence in Spanish Economy

(photo by aranjuez1404)

The Spanish economy took another slap in the face today, and with it so did the Government who had hoped that their defiance in the face of violent ant-cuts protestors last week would signal strength of purpose.However the markets once again had different ideas. In the first auction of government bonds since the announcement of the Government’s austere budget for 2012, the Ministry of the Economy sold €2.5 billion in three-, four- and eight-year bonds despite aiming to sell between €2.5 – €3.5 billon.

In a rallying call to those who oppose his proposed budget, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said today:

“Spain is facing an economic situation of extreme difficulty, I repeat, of extreme difficulty, and those who do not understand that are fooling themselves.”

He also went on to raise the threat of Spain requiring an international bailout should his budget plans falter altogether. Stressing that although “no on likes” the budget his Government announced last week, he added “the alternative is infinitely worse”.

To add to this disappointment, Spain’s risk premium rose its highest level since the Partido Popular took office in December. The stock markets also took a hit, with the Ibex 35 closing down more than 2 percentage points.

 

Snip, Snip, Snip…

Spain's PM, Mariano Rajoy (photo: lamoncloa.gob.es)

The Spanish Government, and in particular Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, have continued to defend the planned cuts to the central government budget announced last week.

The Government’s announcement last week that it was looking to make reductions to €27 billion over the course of 2012 (equivalent to 2.5% of GDP) continue to dominate headlines.

On average, there will be a 16.9% reduction in spending by Government ministries. Yesterday, the Government revealed a further breakdown of exactly where those cuts would fall in particular Government ministries, with Spain’s Foreign Ministry receiving the largest percentage budget cut for this year, meaning the biggest cuts will be made in overseas aid and development programmes.

Furthermore, all civil servant salaries will be frozen, and they will be required to work and extra 10 hours a month.

The Government continues to insist that their planned budget, although extremely severe, is better and significantly less painful than having to receive a bailout from European counterparts.

On top of the €27 billion planned to be cut from the national budget, Spain’s Autonomous Communities are facing a cut of €15 billion to their budgets to reach the necessary deficit reduction targets.

Today’s El Mundo carries a useful breakdown of the planned budget. Among the key points are:

  • All Government ministers will have their salaries frozen.
  • The Royal Family’s annual budget will be reduced by 2%.
  • A 25% reduction in the investment into Research and Development – one of the areas of Government expenditure which has been hardest hit.
  • A 33% reduction in railway expenditure and 23% reduction in airport investment coupled with a 10% rise in airport duty.
  • A 16.9% average reduction in the expenditure of Government ministries. The Foreign Ministry sees its budgets slashed by 54.4%, with significant reductions also for the Treasury, Public Works, Education, Industry, Agriculture and Economy. Least affected are the Ministry of the Presidency and Ministry of the Interior.
  • A controversial “fiscal amnesty” in an attempt to recuperate €2.5 billion.
  • State funding of political parties is set to be reduced by 12.7%
  • A huge cut of 97.6% to the planned weapons modernisation budget at the Ministry of Defence.

El Mundo opinion poll shows PP on course for massive victory

Another great in-depth poll comes to us today courtesy of El Mundo and Sigma Dos. With exactly one week to go before polling day, it will make grim reading for the Socialists and give a confidence boost to the PP.

The full findings are behind a paywall (here), but the main points are as follows:

  • After last week’s televised presidential debate between the Partido Popular’s Mariano Rajoy and the PSOE’s Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, the PP has extended its lead to 17.8 points. (PP – 47.6% , PSOE – 29.8%)
  • The Partido Popular is on course to win 198 seats (currently 154) while the PSOE will fall to 112 (currently 169).
  • The PP will top the polls in every single Autonomous Community, except for Catalonia(where the PSC will come first) and Navarre(where the PNV will come first).
  • When asked to rank party leaders participants placed Rajoy first while Rubalcaba came third behind UPyD’s Rosa Díez.

If these predictions come true Rajoy will be very close to the record number of deputies for one party achieved at an election (202 deputies in 1982 by Felipe González’s PSOE). Conversely, the Socialists will suffer their worst defeat ever – worse even than the 125 seats they gained under Joaquín Almunia in 2000.

Rajoy joins the Twitteratti

We commented a few days ago that the internet presence of the main political parties was still woefully low. As if he heard us, PP leader Mariano Rajoy has opened his own personal Twitter account. Launched on Thursday, the conservative leader was quick to create a stir in the social networking world. In little over half an hour he had 2,600 followers. By Friday he had smashed the 20,000 mark and as this post is published he is heading close to 30,000.

Rajoy and his team have also been sure to avoid the pit falls that have befallen other political tweeters, many of whom it has been revealed, have not tweeted themselves but leave it up to their staff. All tweets posted by the leader himself will be followed by a signature “MR”, the rest will not, and will be written in the third person.

Finally, Rajoy’s team are clearly aware that celebrity sells, and one of the first tweets was a photo (pictured) of the PP leader on board an aeroplane with actor Santiago Segura and singer (and son of Julio Iglesias) Julio José Iglesias.

If you’re desperate to follow Rajoy’s Twitter account, you can do so here.

Rajoy visits Catalonia to meet business leaders

Mariano Rajoy, leader of the main opposition party Partido Popular is visiting Catalonia today to meet with business leaders. As favourite to win the forthcoming general election, Rajoy will be fully conscious of the need to instil confidence in a region with which his party has had a sometimes difficult relationship.

The nationalist leanings of many Catalans have clashed with the solidly pro-united Spain conservative party, and Rajoy’s visit comes at a time when feelings are running high over a Supreme Court ruling which has ordered the Catalonian regional government to favour Castilian Spanish over Catalan in the education system.

Among the business leaders with whom Rajoy will hold a private dinner are the Chief Executives of banks such as La Caixa, Bankia and Banco Sabadell, and leading companies such as Repsol,Iberia and Pronovias.

The PP will be looking for a better showing in Catalonia at the general election than they achieved in 2008 – and this will be the first of several visits by Rajoy to the region during the campaign.

Spain’s political parties attempt to harness internet as electoral tool

Ever since the Obama campaign ignited America thanks to its creative use of social networks and the internet, European political parties have tried to ape the success in their own general elections. The UK’s last general election in 2010 was billed as the “Internet Election”, but the effect of the internet turned out to be a bit of a damp squib compared to expectations, and in comparison to the 2008 US Presidential elections.

And now, with their own general election just ten weeks away,Spain’s main parties are looking to extract maximum advantage from the World Wide Web. Yesterday, PP spokesman Esteban Gonzalez Pons, revealed that his leader and presidential candidate Mariano Rajoy was fully prepared for a “Twitter debate” with the PSOE candidate, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba.

And this morning the PSOE themselves have launched their own internet initiative, launching a special web portal for people to communicate their “ideas, opinions, solutions and proposals”. This virtual political conference will be running from 30th September to 2nd October, and can be accessed here.

However, the political parties’ internet presence is on the whole pathetic, compared to other Western democracies. All the main parties have decent websites and tick the boxes with their Twitter pages, Facebook accounts etc, but their efforts so far have been, frankly, unimaginative.

In addition, very few elected politicians have their own personal website or blog, and there are few internet debating sites of any renown outside of those provided by the main stream media.

So although these initiatives are welcome in part of the much-needed process of bringing citizens closer to their politicians in Spain, it would be safe to assume that the internet is not going to change the course of the election in any significant way.

The first party that truly cracks the problem of engaging effectively with voters online will be set to reap the benefits

Blanco: The polls are wrong, the people prefer Rubalcaba

Some will view it as an ostrich-head-in-sand moment. Others will view it as a loyalist defending the corner of his embattled party. Either way, the comments of Public Works Minister José Blanco this morning have raised eyebrows.

Blanco has suggested that, even though the polls are unanimous in predicting victory for the PP, he believes they also show that “everybody prefers Rubalcaba as president [over Rajoy], they rate him higher and they believe that he can be the best Prime Minister.”

“For this reason,” he concludes, “I am sure that they will vote for the man they consider to be the best to govern”.

A valiant attempt to steady the socialist nerves, but perhaps he needs reminding that Rajoy was actually rated higher (albeit only just) than Rubalcaba in the latest opinion poll for El País

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.

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.