Spain's PM ready to call early elections: reports

29th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is preparing to call new elections for November, four months earlier than planned, Spanish newspapers said Friday.

The government does not have to go to the country before March 2012.

But since the ruling Socialist Party was crushed in local and regional elections in May, the opposition Popular Party has pressed the government to call the polls early.

Some senior Socialist Party members appear to agree, Spanish newspapers El Pais and El Mundo said on their websites.

"Zapatero seems to have finally given in to the wishes of the party and the Socialist candidate, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, and decided to move up the general elections to November."

El Pais said the preferred date is November 20.

There was no official confirmation of the reports, but Zapatero was scheduled to address a news conference at 1030 GMT on Friday.

Zapatero, first elected in March 2004, announced in April that he will not seek a third term as Socialist leader in the next elections.

The party chose Rubalcaba, then interior minister and a party heavyweight, to replace him.

Rubalcaba, 59, promised to tackle crippling unemployment and to listen to "the street" as he took charge of a party earlier this month.

In the May elections, a huge swathe of the electorate, furious over Spain's economic crisis and soaring unemployment, abandoned the Socialists for the conservative Popular Party of Mariano Rajoy, which is expected to romp into office after eight years in opposition.

But a opinion poll this week indicated that the Socialists have cut the opposition's lead to 7.1 points from 10.4 points since Rubalcaba was named.

PP members have also been embroiled in a corruption scandal that led to the resignation last week as head of the eastern Valencia region's autonomous government Francisco Camps.

A judge ordered Camps to stand trial over alleged bribery.

© 2011 AFP

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