Opposition leader gets boost as Merkel and Sarkozy give backing

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Spanish opposition leader Mariano Rajoy received a much-needed boost for his election campaign when both French President Nicolás Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave him their backing on Wednesday.

31 January 2008

PARIS - After spending the last two weeks settling an internal crisis within his Popular Party, Spanish opposition leader Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday received a much-needed boost for his election campaign when both French President Nicolás Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave him their backing.

At an event in Paris organised by Sarkozy's conservative UMP party, a sister party of the PP, both the French and German leaders said they hope "with all our hearts that our friend Mariano achieves great success" when Spaniards go to the polls on 9 March to elect their prime minister for the next four years.

Sarkozy and Merkel, as leaders of centre-right parties, are natural allies of Rajoy in Europe, a connection that is strengthened by shared policies in many areas. Speaking before the mostly French crowd, Rajoy promised that he would return Spain "to the place it deserves in Europe" after the "isolationism" of current Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

He also called for a common European immigration policy, a move supported by Sarkozy, who used the occasion to rail against the mass legalisation of illegal immigrants carried out by Spain earlier this legislature.

"The priority of France's foreign policy is a pact on immigration," the French president said.

[Copyright EL PAÍS / CARLOS E. CUÉ 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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