Spain installs new right-dominated parliament

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Spain installed its new conservative-dominated parliament on Tuesday, preparing the ground for an era of tough fiscal reforms after the right's election victory last month.

Lawmakers voted in two key allies of incoming prime minister Mariano Rajoy as speakers of the two chambers of parliament: Jesus Posada, 66, in the lower house Congress, and Pio Garcia-Escudero, 59, in the Senate.

Posada was formerly a minister in the government of conservative prime minister Jose-Maria Aznar in the 1990s. Garcia-Escudero has served in the Senate since 1995.

Rajoy's Popular Party won by its biggest margin ever in the November 20 election after promising to ease Spain's 21.5-percent jobless rate and rescue it from the eurozone debt crisis.

It won 44.62 percent of the vote and an absolute majority with 186 seats in the 350-seat lower house of parliament, ending more than seven years of Socialist rule.

Rajoy, 56, has vowed to make labour reforms and extend spending cuts in order to meet Spain's target of slashing the public deficit to 4.4 percent of gross domestic product in 2012 from 9.3 percent last year.

He is due to be sworn in as premier on December 21 and his government is due to take office the day after.

A coalition of Basque independence parties, Amaiur, won seven seats in the Congress in the election, securing the first left-wing Basque presence there in 15 years.

© 2011 AFP

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