Struggling Rajoy will head party in gen election

7th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

7 September 2007, MADRID -(AFP) - The under fire head of Spain's main opposition Popular Party, Mariano Rajoy, will on Monday be officially proclaimed the right-wing party's candidate for a general election in March 2008.

7 September 2007

MADRID -(AFP) - The under fire head of Spain's main opposition Popular Party, Mariano Rajoy, will on Monday be officially proclaimed the right-wing party's candidate for a general election in March 2008.

The secretary-general of the party, Angel Acebes, said Thursday that the date was set over the summer, denying speculation that it was moved up in order to curtail talk of a possible leadership challenge to Rajoy.

Rajoy will be appointed the party's candidate by the national leadership of the Popular Party (PP), according to its rules which do not allow for the election of the party's leader directly by party members.

His approval ratings trail those of Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero who polls suggest he is well placed to win a second term.

Rajoy succeeded two-term former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar as leader of the Popular Party ahead of its surprise general election loss to Zapatero's Socialists on March 14, 2004, just three days after the Madrid train bombings which killed 191 people.

A poll published Tuesday in daily newspaper El Mundo showed that Rajoy was only in sixth place in a ranking of right-wing voters' preference for leader of the Popular Party.

He trailed Madrid's newly re-elected mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon in the poll as well as the outgoing head of the International Monetary Fund, Rodrigo Rato, who was Spain's finance minister under Aznar.

Last month Ruiz-Gallardon said he would like to run for parliament in the next general election in a move seen as an attempt to position himself as a possible successor to Rajoy in case the Popular Party loses the polls again.

Rato, who presided over an economic boom in Spain while reducing inflation, announced in June that he would step down early as head of the IMF after the body's annual meeting in October.

[Copyright AFP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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