Spanish press sees general strike as 'drawn match'

30th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Neither Spain's unions nor the government can claim victory from a general strike that drew limited support, but enough for both to save face, Spanish newspapers said Thursday.

"There was a strike, but it was not general. And that is perhaps exactly what both the unions and the government wanted -- a symmetric failure, but bearable," said the Catalan paper La Vanguardia.

That opinion was shared by the conservative daily ABC, which said Wednesday's strike was "a drawn match between the government and the unions. Services functioned, industry was paralysed and life continued."

The centre-left daily El Pais said the strike had a "limited impact" but avoided labeling it a failure.

"The unions saved face, without inflicting a defeat on the government, as was the case in 1998 against Felipe Gonzalez or in 2002 against Jose Maria Aznar," it said, to referring the former socialist and conservative prime ministers.

"Both the unions and the government wanted a drawn match, which was demonstrated by the strike, as neither one nor the other had any alternative. The unions know that the alternative to (socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez) Zapatero is still worse.

"And, from his side, Zapatero needs to reconnect with the unions which compose part of his popular base which has propelled it into" government.

The centre-right daily El Mundo however labeled the stoppage a "general failure."

"The unions emerged much weaker from this strike" as "it has been shown, from everywhere, that only a small percentage of citizens heeded the (strike) call...

"The failure of the general strike makes an overhaul of Spanish unions more necessary,"it said.

Spain's two main unions staged a 24-hour nationwide general strike Wednesday to protest the socialist government's tough labour reforms and austerity measures aimed slashing unemployment and reviving the battered economy.

The government said it had a "limited effect", but unions reported a strong participation.

Zapatero maintained a close relationship with the two unions after he first took office in 2004.

But that turned sour when he entered his second term in 2008, and the economy slumped into recession as the once-booming property sector collapsed.

© 2010 AFP

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