PM promises "decisive shift" in policy if re-elected

15th January 2008, Comments 0 comments

Three-point gap in opinion polls suggests close election race.

15 January 2008

MADRID - Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero on Monday oversaw the dissolution of Congress ahead of the general election on 9 March, promising a "decisive shift" in policy if re-elected for a second four-year term.

"The next four years will be to build the future and not to debate past issues. We will consolidate our recent progress, extend welfare, create more employment and expand our rights," Zapatero said in the lower house.

In the wake of a legislature in which the fight against terrorism took centre stage, and faced with an election in which the slowing economy is likely to be the main issue, Zapatero's Socialist Party has offered a broad array of campaign promises to voters. The prime minister pledged yesterday to focus more on social policy if re-elected, while underscoring the achievements of the last four years, including the legalisation of homosexual marriage, a recurrent budget surplus and help for homebuyers and renters.

However, the Socialist Party is facing a close race to remain in power. A poll published yesterday by the Instituto Opina for SER radio placed the main opposition Popular Party a mere three points behind in voter intent.

For the PP, the economy and the government's counterterrorism policies are the main election issues. Yesterday, the conservative party's secretary general, Ángel Acebes, claimed that Zapatero "cannot be trusted" after he admitted to authorising international "contacts" with ETA even after the Basque terrorist group killed two people in a bomb attack at Madrid's Barajas airport in December 2006.

[Copyright EL PAÍS / A. EATWELL 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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