Spaniards are expected to throw out the Socialists they blame for a disastrous economic situation in an election on Sunday and to vote in a center-right party likely to dole out more bitter medicine in the form of public spending cuts.
GlowImages | Getty ImagesOpinion polls show the People’s Party (PP), led by Mariano Rajoy, has an unassailable lead over the ruling Socialists, who have led the country from boom to bust in seven years in power.Voters are angry with the Socialists for failing to act swiftly to prevent the economic slide and then for bringing in austerity measures that have cut wages, benefits and jobs.Yet people are now resigned to further slashes in spending on health and education in the midst of a European debt crisis that has toppled the governments of Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Italy and pushed Spain’s borrowing costs ever higher.“I’m going to vote for the PP, just for a change. We need to bring in people to straighten this out. It’s outrageous to have 5 million people unemployed. They have to do something, I don’t know what,” said 35-year-old Angel, queuing at a benefits office in Madrid after losing his job as a bus driver.Spain’s grim economic outlook dominated the election campaign.The country is home to nearly one third of the euro zone’s unemployed, with one in five Spanish workers without a job, and its economy is threatening to slip into recession next year for the second time in three years.Rajoy, who led his party in two previous failed parliamentary election campaigns, is likely to win an absolute majority giving him a clear mandate to enforce the deep cuts seen as necessary to balance Spain’s books.The 56-year-old will not be sworn in until December.But he will be eager to lay out plans during the handover period to reassure fraught markets that have lost faith in the euro zone project.Spain’s borrowing costs touched euro-era highs in the week running up to the election and came perilously close to the 7 percent level at which other euro zone nations like Ireland and Greece sought international bail-outs.Farewell to SocialistsVoting stations close at 8 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Sunday and complete election results are expected a few hours later.Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero decided against running for a third term as his approval ratings sank during the worst economic slowdown in modern times.The Socialists chose veteran politician Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba as their leader for the campaign, but he has struggled to differentiate himself from Zapatero, since he served in his cabinet for years, most recently as his deputy.
On the eve of the election, around 200 demonstrators from the “Indignados” movement gathered in the Puerta del Sol square in Madrid to protest against the main political parties, a fraction of the thousands that flocked there earlier this year.“The situation in Spain is very bad and we have to protest,” said demonstrator Luis Garcia, who cannot get a steady job and lives from giving occasional private language lessons. “The two main parties are the serfs of the bankers.”The movement, largely composed of young people, began in May when Spaniards took to the streets to decry government policies they said offered them no future. More than 45 percent of Spaniards under 25 are out of work, the worst rate in Europe.The protests, which inspired Occupy Wall Street and other movements across the globe, have petered out in recent weeks but could start up again once Rajoy’s spending cuts bite.Spain joined the euro in 1999 and enjoyed years of prosperity and a real estate boom driven by cheap credit.When the property market crashed in 2007 the government, companies and consumers all found themselves over their heads in debt.The austerity measures, along with bail-outs and forced relapitalization of banks, have succeeded so far in keeping the country from an international rescue.Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters.via cnbc.com
this is a very good thing… for America
One of the most acclaimed TV programs in Spain is Tengo una pregunta para usted (I have a question for you), broadcasted by TVE’s (Televisión Española, Spain’s public TV) channel La 1. It gives citizens an opportunity to ask politicians about those issues they consider important or of a special interest. And on January 26, 2009, Spain’s President of the Government and secretary general of the P.S.O.E. (Partido Socialista Obrero Español or Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party), José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, was the politician invited to be questioned by ordinary citizens.Rafael Lafuente Blanco, 29 years old, from the city of Granada, was one of those ordinary citizens. He chose to ask Zapatero about the Spanish arms trade, which makes Spain one of the main exporters of weapons globally, as well as about the hypocrisy behind Zapatero’s cabinet, publicly committed to peace while veiledly committed to supply Israel and Colombia with weapons (please notice that, according to Lafuente, Israel and Colombia are countries which usually violate human rights).Spanish President of the Government answered by explaining that the total amount of weapons sold to Israel by Spain equals just about 1,000,000 €, and that such a quantity means that Spain is not one of Israel’s main suppliers of weapons. Then, Lafuente interrupts Zapatero’s answer by asking: “Do you have any idea about how many Palestinian civilians have been killed by our weapons?” Zapatero answers by telling that Spanish war material sold to Israel was not used by the Jewish State to kill Palestinian civilians.Another argument provided by the Spanish socialist leader is the fact that Spain is a pioneer country on the erradication of cluster bombs.Well, on Friday, April 15, 2011, Público published an article, based on another one published by Europa Press (a Spanish news agency), regarding Libya. Both of the articles reveale that Muammar al-Gaddafi’s forces used cluster projectiles against Libyan rebels in Misrata. Those cluster projectiles were made in Spain in 2007 (a year before Spain signed an international agreement which banned this kind of weapons), and later provided to Libya. This issue was also covered by The New York Times, and can also be read in El País, in English.Público‘s and Europa Press’ articles also deal with the fact that al-Gaddafi’s forces used Grad rockets during their operations. The two articles provide explanations about these type of rockets regarding their use by al-Gaddafi’s forces, including civilians killed and locations attacked by them, as well as their design and technical data.Now please notice that:i) The P.S.O.E. has been very critical towards Israel, especially during the 2006 Lebanon War and the 2008-2009 operation Cast Lead. Spain’s socialist leader, who is the President of the Goverment since 2004, admitted to have provided Israel with weapons, and justified it by explaining that those weapons were not used to kill innocent civilians. But at the same time, the socialists, while governing the country, sold nothing less than cluster ammunitions to the Libyan regime.ii) Público and Europa Press explained in detail how the Grad rockets have been used by al-Gaddafi’s forces, how these rockets affected civilians and infrastructures in Misrata and how these rockets were designed. But at the same time, neither Público nor Europa Press depicted in such detail how Israel has been being attacked with al-Qassam and Grad rockets, as well as mortars, during the last months.
image via alertadigital.com