Spanish PM warns of economic woes ahead
PP leader Mariano Rajoy attacks Zapatero for "misleading" public over crisis.3 July 2008
MADRID - Speaking before Congress on Wednesday, Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero insisted that Spain's embattled economy would suffer difficulties "for a few months" before bouncing back.
Zapatero blamed the current economic crisis on external factors, although he insisted that it will not lead to cuts in social spending.
"We know how to steer the economy onto a path of growth and contain unemployment, making sure that we do not streamline our social security system," he said.
The main opposition Popular Party (PP) responded to the prime minister's comments with scepticism.
PP leader Mariano Rajoy, whose approval rating overtook that of Zapatero for the first time according to one opinion poll published on Tuesday, accused the prime minister of "lying" and "misleading" Spaniards about the severity of the crisis.
"He should come out and tell things as they are," said Rajoy. "He should get out of that labyrinth of double talk."
United Left leader Gaspar Llamazares, meanwhile, accused Zapatero of "navel gazing".
Despite his generally optimistic tone, however, Zapatero admitted that the current economic woes were hurting the living standards of many Spaniards. While reiterating that the economy was suffering a slowdown, he insisted that it was still growing.
The economy grew in the first quarter by 2.7 percent year-on-year and by 0.3 percent versus the previous quarter.
[El Pais / Expatica]