Zapatero takes the reigns
16 April 2004
MADRID – Socialist Party leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was voted Spain’s next prime minister Friday.
Zapatero will be formally appointed at a meeting with King Juan Carlos and will take power Saturday.
In a major speech Thursday, Zapatero outlined his government’s determination to confront terrorism.
He also said he would withdraw Spanish forces from Iraq if the United Nations did not take over the mandate on 1 July as is expected.
The support of the outgoing conservative government of Jose Maria Aznar for the Iraq war and its pro-U.S. stance were widely seen as the reason terrorists targeted Spain on 11 March.
It was also the way Aznar handled the crisis, which drove many voters to the Socialists in the general election.
The new premier pledged to fulfill election campaign promises to change the Constitution to give the regions more power, provide more affordable housing, legalise gay marriages and stop a law which links education to the Church.
Zapatero was voted into power in parliament Friday with the support of votes from the left-wing United Left party and Catalan regional nationalist party ERC as the Socialists did have an absolute majority.
The PSOE party is 12 seats short of a majority.
But opposition spokesman Eduardo Zaplana, of the conservative Partido Popular, attacked Zapatero for leaving “much to be desired” in his speech.
Zaplana said a government without ideas was not way to govern.
Zapatero is only Spain’s fifth democratically elected prime minister since the country’s Constitution was written in 1978.
He is the second Socialist head of state. Felipe Gonzalez ruled Spain for 14 years between 1982 and 1996.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news