Spanish premier to reshuffle cabinet: press

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Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero will shake up his cabinet Wednesday, naming a new team after securing enough support to pass a cost-slashing budget, the media said.

The government refused to comment on the reports.

In one of the biggest changes, Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos will be replaced by the health minister, Trinidad Jimenez, according to the online edition of El Pais and radio and television stations.

It would be a dramatic change in fortune for Jimenez, who only two weeks earlier lost a vote to represent her ruling Socialist Party in 2011 regional elections in the Madrid region.

Zapatero's deputy Maria Teresa Fernandez also is out of the cabinet, the media said.

She will reportedly be replaced by the interior minister, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, who has led the battle against armed Basque separatists ETA and is often touted as a candidate to succeed Zapatero.

"I cannot confirm anything," a government spokesman said when asked about the reports of a reshuffle.

Jimenez also declined to be drawn when questioned about the reports on public radio.

"I cannot give you any information," she said.

Zapatero has slumped in the opinion polls as he pushed through painful austerity measures and labour market reforms, and advocated deep budget cuts to avoid a Greek-style debt crisis.

The major challenge for him now is passing a budget that pledges to cut spending next year by 7.9 percent to 122 billion euros (170 billion dollars). It is expected to be approved in December.

© 2010 AFP

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