Spanish PM jeered at national day parade

12th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose popularity has slipped as he imposes austerity measures to revive the economy and pay off debt, was jeered Tuesday at Spain's national day parade.

The crowd whistled and chanted "Zapatero resign!" as the prime minister stood at the podium beside other politicians before the start of the military parade through the streets of the Spanish capital.

Support for Zapatero's ruling Socialists has slid to 29.4 percent in October from 38 percent during the same month last year, a poll published Monday in centre-left daily newspaper Publico on Monday showed.

The vast majority, 84.1 percent, of those surveyed said they had "little" or "no" trust in Zapatero, up from 73.1 percent in October 2009.

Spanish workers staged their first general strike since 2002 last month to protest labour market reforms which cut Spain's high cost of firing workers and gives companies more flexibility to reduce working hours and staff levels in economic downturns.

Unions are also fighting steep spending cuts, including an average state employee salary reduction of five percent, and plans to gradually raise the retirement age to 67 from 65.

The government argues the measures are needed to restore lost economic competitiveness, boost job creation in a country where the unemployment rate has soared to 20 percent and avoid a Greek-style debt crisis.

But the steps have been seen as a policy U-turn on the part of the unions which accuse the government of abandoning its commitment to social policies and embracing free market policies for the economy.

Zapatero has not yet declared if he will stand as the party's candidate for a third consecutive term in general elections scheduled for 2012.

© 2010 AFP

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