Zapatero turns to trusted ally to unite parties

25th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

Defence Minister Alonso named congressional spokesperson

25 March 2008

MADRID - The man that Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero will entrust with the thorny task of breaking the deadlock with the opposition Popular Party (PP) in the upcoming legislature will be the current defence minister, José Antonio Alonso.

The decision to make Alonso Socialist congressional spokesperson was announced yesterday after a meeting that settled several major appointments for the new term of office after the general election on 9 March.

Alonso, who also served as interior minister during the last legislature, met with Zapatero yesterday morning and accepted the job, which until now had been held by Diego López Garrido, Socialist sources said.

Political experts believe the fact that Alonso is a jurist was a major factor in his appointment, as one of his main challenges in the coming months will be to renew the blocked negotiations with the PP over key member renewals in Spain's top legal bodies, including the Constitutional Court and the General Council of the Judiciary. Putting Alonso in charge of this delicate task also allows Zapatero to keep Mariano Fernández Bermejo in the post of justice minister.

The new Socialist spokesman in Congress will face several other delicate tasks, such as coming up with a new cross-party agreement on antiterrorist policies and tackling regional reform.

Alonso, 48, has been a personal friend of Zapatero since their childhood days in León, and has been one of his most trustworthy Cabinet members since the Socialists took power in 2004. A judge, between 1994 and 1998 he was part of the legal association Jueces para la Democracia, and in 2001 he became a member of the General Council of the Judiciary.

[Copyright El Pais / SUSANA URRA 2008]

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