Spain's press warns of daunting test for victorious right
Spain's press warned Monday of a daunting economic test facing conservative leader Mariano Rajoy after his party thundered to a crushing election victory.
Rajoy's Popular Party won by the biggest margin in its history, securing an absolute majority in parliament, as voters chased the ruling Socialists from seven years in office.
Spain's Socialists took their severest beating on record, becoming the latest of the periphery eurozone governments to be toppled after Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Greece.
Spaniards turned to the conservatives and their promise of change to fix a stalled economy and an unemployment rate that had shot to 21.5 percent, the highest in the industrialized world.
"Mandate for change," declared the front page of the centre-right daily El Mundo above a photograph of the bearded 56-year-old Rajoy kissing his wife as he celebrated the victory.
"Now it is time to govern and there is no room for doubt, given the dramatic situation he must confront and the pressure of the markets," El Mundo warned in its editorial.
Other major dailies agreed.
"The crisis gives all the power to Rajoy," headlined leading centre-left daily El Pais, calling on him to join with outgoing Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to reassure markets about Spain's finances.
"They must make a joint and unequivocal gesture this very Monday, before doubt returns about European sovereign debt, to state convincingly that Spain is in a state to take whatever economic decisions may be necessary," it added.
"All power to Rajoy," said top business daily Cinco Dias on its front page, underlining in an editorial the extent of the crisis that he was elected to resolve in a country with five million people unemployed.
Voters "have sent him a message that he must get Spain out of the worst crisis it has known for its citizens and one of the deepest in history, which is hitting the whole of Europe," the paper said.
"It will not be an easy task."
In the days leading up to the vote, Spain entered a danger zone for its sovereign debt, with interest rates on its bonds nearing levels that drove other eurozone members to seek emergency bailouts.
Left-wing daily Publico underlined the "debacle" for the Socialists, who took just 28.7 percent of the vote.
© 2011 AFP