Opposition leader's hard-line stance described as "xenophobic"
Mariano Rajoy's suggestion that Spanish immigration policy is too weak drew a sharp backlash Thursday from immigrant groups and leftist politicians29 February 2008
MADRID - Mariano Rajoy's suggestion that Spanish immigration policy is too weak drew a sharp backlash Thursday from immigrant groups and leftist politicians, who accused the Popular Party (PP) candidate for the 9 March general election of playing the "xenophobia" card.
At a political rally on Wednesday, Rajoy had argued that "everyone" should be stopped from entering the country. "There is not enough room for all of us," he said. The comments came days after the PP promised to force immigrants to sign an "integration contract" and ban girls from wearing Muslim headscarves in schools if it wins the election.
"Rajoy is positioning himself on the far-right of European politics," the governing Socialist Party said in a statement. Pedro Zerolo, a party spokesman, said the PP's policies "whiff of xenophobia and racism."
Former Socialist Prime Minister Felipe González told supporters in Málaga that only an "imbecile" would claim to be more moderate than Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, as Rajoy did in a recent interview.
[Copyright EL PAÍS / A. EATWELL 2008]