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EU’s Barroso welcomes Zapatero’s “triumph” in Spanish elections

11 March 2008

BRUSSELS –  European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso on Monday welcomed Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s victory in this weekend’s Spanish elections.

"On behalf of the European Commission and myself, I would like to express my most sincere felicitations for the triumph of yourself and of your party in the general election," Barroso said in a message to Zapatero issued in Spanish.

With nearly all votes counted, Zapatero’s Socialists defeated the opposition conservative Popular Party (PP) with 44 percent of the vote and 169 seats in the 350-strong parliament.

Though they increased their number of parliamentary seats, observers said the Socialists would need to continue relying on the support of small regionalist and leftist parties to govern.

In his message, the head of the European Union executive said he expected the Zapatero government to continue to sustain the EU and "consolidate the successes that we have achieved together so far."

Barroso also condemned the latest act of violence in Spain, which saw the militant Basque separatist group ETA gun down a former Socialist councillor in the Basque town of Arrasate, two days before the poll.

A small anti-ETA protest was held on Monday outside the building in Brussels where the EU’s foreign ministers met.

[Copyright dpa 2008]