Spanish opposition leader's future uncertain after election defeat

11th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

Spaniards were Tuesday waiting to see whether conservative opposition leader Mariano Rajoy would resign following his party's defeat in Sunday's legislative elections.

11 March 2008

MADRID - Spaniards were Tuesday waiting to see whether conservative opposition leader Mariano Rajoy would resign following his party's defeat in Sunday's legislative elections.

Former Interior Minister Rajoy, 52, who has headed the Popular Party (PP) for four years, did not appear in public to comment on the election results, nor did he attend a meeting of his party's steering committee on Monday.

Many of the party's leading representatives praised Rajoy's performance in the elections, but there were also calls for self-reflection and for new people to take over the party leadership.

The PP took 153 seats in the 350-seat parliament against 169 seats for Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialists, who were expected to seek alliances with smaller regionalist and leftist parties in order to govern.

The PP increased its number of seats by five, but the defeat was Rajoy's second to Zapatero. Rajoy's style as opposition leader has been criticised as overly aggressive.

The strongest candidates to succeed Rajoy include Madrid regional Prime Minister Esperanza Aguirre.

[Copyright dpa 2008]

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