Spain's ruling Socialists may call early elections: reports

13th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spain's economic crisis and political instability could force the ruling Socialist Party to hold new elections four months early in November, Spanish media said Monday.

Senior party officials and members of the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero are preparing for such a scenario, the newspapers El Pais and El Mundo said.

But the final decision will be up to Zapatero, El Mundo said.

The prime minister has said repeatedly he does not intend to move forward the elections because he wants to see through a series of economic reforms he has launched since last year.

The main opposition Popular Party has been pushing for early elections since its crushing victory over the Socialists in regional and municipal polls on May 22.

"The development of the economic crisis," instability in parliament, "the social climate and declining support for Zapatero" could finally leave the prime minister with no other choice that to go to the electorate in November, said the centre-left El Pais.

Unemployment, the highest in the industrialised world at more than 21 percent in the first quarter of 2011, traditionally falls in the summer due to seasonal work contracts, which could give the Socialists a boost.

But other arguments back the holding of elections in March, including the government's determination to move forward with its economic reforms and a need to let as much time pass as possible following the rout in local elections.

If elections are scheduled for November, there is unlikely to be an announcement before September. Until then, Zapatero will continue to affirm that he intends to see out his mandate, said El Pais.

Zapatero, who was first elected in March 2004, announced in April he would not seek a third term.

He heads a minority government that must seek the support of smaller parties in order to pass legislation.

Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, 59, one of the most powerful figures in the government, is in line to replace him as the party's candidate to face PP leader Mariano Rajoy.

© 2011 AFP

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