Popular Party's number two announces exit

6th May 2008, Comments 0 comments

The stepping down of secretary general Acebes is the second high-profile departure in a less than a week.

6 May 2008

MADRID - Ángel Acebes, the opposition Popular Party's second-in-command for the last four years, announced Monday that he is stepping down as secretary general - the second apparent victim of a widening schism within conservative ranks in less than a week.

In a statement, Acebes said he had informed PP President Mariano Rajoy that he will not continue on as secretary general after the party holds its convention in June. He thanked Rajoy for appointing him to the post after the PP was ousted from office in the 2004 general election, but said the leader should "not count on me anymore."

Acebes' departure from the PP's top brass comes less than a week after Eduardo Zaplana, the PP's congress spokesman during the last legislature, announced he was giving up his Congress seat and withdrawing from active politics to take a job as a lobbyist for Telefónica.

Both Acebes and Zaplana have been bastions of the PP's hardline opposition to the Socialist government over the last four years, and their departure may be indicative of an attempt to soften the party's tone after Rajoy lost his second consecutive election to the Socialists on 9 March.

Both men had apparently been cold-shouldered by Rajoy following the party's election defeat. Unlike Zaplana, however, Acebes has not yet renounced his seat in Congress, and gave no indication yesterday of his plans for the future.

"He is not abandoning politics," Rajoy said. "We've had some conversations and after four very complicated and difficult years he wanted to take a back seat," he added.

[El Pais / A. Eatwell / ANP / Expatica]

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