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Spain rules out early election
29 May 2010 @ 20:34

The Spanish government defiantly ruled out calling early elections despite having almost no parliamentary support for spending cuts designed to combat the country's debt crisis.

A day after getting the cuts through parliament by one vote, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's faced questions on whether he should call a vote of confidence, and on how he hopes to pass a budget for next year now that the few political allies he had left have abandoned him.

"The people gave us their trust to govern for four years. That time is not up," Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega insisted.

The austerity measures - which aim to cut spending by 15 billion euros this year and next and reduce Spain's oversized deficit - have been welcomed by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund but much criticised at home as a major reversal by the Socialists.

They are aimed at reassuring markets that Spain's government debt problems will not mushroom into a Greek-style crisis.

Europe's top job-creator only two years ago, Spain now has the region's highest unemployment rate, at just over 20%, and is the slowest of the major economies to emerge from the global recession.

Finance Minister Elena Salgado said the spending cuts will result in higher unemployment and slower growth.

The official forecast for the jobless rate had been that it would finish the year at 19%, but Ms Salgado revised that upward to 19.4%. She raised the projections for 2011 and 2012, as well.

Many Spanish newspapers called Thursday's vote a turning point in Mr Zapatero's efforts to lead Spain through its economic crisis, with conservative dailies calling it the beginning of the end for him.

Fernandez de la Vega said the government would pull Spain out of its crisis "with the support of many citizens" - she acknowledged most parties had voted against the austerity package - and insisted Mr Zapatero is anything but dead in the water.

Source: Press Association

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