Spain's papers say new govt primed to rescue economy

22nd December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spain's press Thursday hailed Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's new right-leaning government as a seasoned team selected to battle a crisis that has left five million unemployed.

Rajoy, whose Popular Party won a landslide victory over the Socialists in November 20 elections, named the line-up on Wednesday evening hours after being sworn in to the top job by King Juan Carlos.

Spain's leading daily El Pais said the grey-bearded, 56-year-old prime minister had drawn up a centrist government in his own image.

"Now we just need this to be confirmed with deeds and attitudes that for the moment are just an image. Before them is a country worried by the crisis and waiting to know what their programme is," it said.

Conservative daily ABC agreed that the task ahead would be arduous.

"It is a government prepared for an unprecedented crisis and which, with a smaller budget than any other, must apply the most thankless policies ever," the paper said.

The team of 13 ministers notably featured a financier, former Lehman Brothers banker Luis de Guindos, 51, as economy minister, the press noted.

The architect of Rajoy's economic rescue plan, 61-year-old Popular Party veteran Cristobal Montoro, whose English-language skills are reportedly weak, was named as minister of the treasury.

"That means that the experienced Montoro will be charged with carrying out the difficult and thankless task of cutting public spending and making sure the accounts balance," said the centre-right daily El Mundo.

Experienced, centrist Popular Party politicians who stayed loyal to Rajoy during his years of opposition were rewarded with the key posts in the government, papers said.

Rajoy named only four women, abandoning the former Socialist government's practice of sharing posts equally between the sexes.

But one of those women, 40-year-old Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, the youngest member of the cabinet, accumulated enormous power in the new government, the press said.

Saenz, a trained lawyer and married mother of a baby born just last month, had been spokeswoman for the Popular Party in the lower house of parliament since 2008.

Rajoy named her to three posts: deputy prime minister; government spokeswoman; and minister responsible for relations between the premier and parliament.

"There is no doubt that Rajoy has tasked her with coordinating the government's political actions," said an editorial in El Mundo, arguing that she had assumed "unprecedented power".

© 2011 AFP

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