Zapatero confirmed as Spanish premier for second term
The socialist leader was reconfirmed in second round of voting on Friday, after failing to win absolute majority in the first round on Wednesday.11 April 2008
MADRID - Spanish Socialist leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, 47, was reconfirmed on Friday by parliament as prime minister for a second term after winning the elections a month ago.
Zapatero was reconfirmed only with the votes of the 169 Socialist legislators in a second round of voting in the 350-member parliament, where he failed to win the absolute majority necessary for him to be elected in the first round on Wednesday.
Zapatero was the first prime minister elected in a popular vote to be reconfirmed only in the second round since Spain became a democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.
In a speech prior to the vote, Zapatero pledged to seek dialogue with the other parties in an attempt to improve the political atmosphere from the previous legislature, which was marked by the bitter relations between the government and the conservative opposition.
Zapatero said he would seek a cross-party understanding, especially in key areas including the fight against the militant Basque separatist group ETA, the priorities of the Spanish European Union presidency in 2010 and reforms of the judiciary.
Conservative opposition leader Mariano Rajoy also called for agreements on the most important policies.
Despite Zapatero only being elected in a second round, the Socialists saw the parliamentary vote as heralding a stronger rather than a weak government.
Zapatero deliberately opted for a simple majority in order to retain a freedom of action in relation to Basque and Catalan regionalists, whose votes could have allowed him to be elected in the first round, but who would have demanded more regional autonomy in exchange for their support.
The Socialists increased their number of seats by five in the 9 March elections, but failed to win an absolute majority in parliament.
Zapatero was expected to govern with the support of smaller parties on a case-to-case basis, instead of the initial alliances he formed with the far-left Izquierda Unida (IU) and the Catalan party ERC during the previous legislature.
Zapatero did not, however, exclude "channels of stable and predictable cooperation" with other parties, he told parliament.
[dpa / Expatica]