Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Vote Setback Fails to Deter Spaniard's Fiscal Plans

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Vote Setback Fails to Deter Spaniard's Fiscal Plans

Article excerpt

The Popular Party suffered its first disappointment at the polls since taking office, failing to win an absolute majority in a regional election in Andalusia, the country's most populous region.

Prime minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain insisted on Monday that his government would forge ahead with further austerity cuts and economic reforms, even after his Popular Party suffered its first disappointment at the polls since taking office, failing to win an absolute majority in an election in Andalusia, the country's most populous region.

Commenting on the election Sunday in Andalusia, Mr. Rajoy said that "in politics, you cannot always achieve 100 percent of the goals that you set." Still, he promised to stick to his deficit- cutting objectives because "this is what Spain needs rather than a whim."

But Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, who leads the Socialist Party, suggested that the Socialists had avoided the clear-cut defeat forecast by pollsters in Andalusia because many voters felt that there was a limit to how much pain Mr. Rajoy's government could impose on citizens entering another recession. Mr. Rubalcaba argued that among Mr. Rajoy's measures, a recent overhaul of labor market legislation "attacked the rights of Spaniards."

Opposition to that legislation, designed mainly to cut the cost of hiring and firing workers, will take center stage again on Thursday, when Spain's main trade unions are due to hold a general strike.

In Sunday's vote, the Popular Party won 50 of the 109 seats in the regional assembly of Andalusia, against 47 seats for the Socialist Party. While the Popular Party won the most votes in Andalusia for the first time since Spain's return to democracy, it fell short of the 55 seats needed for the absolute majority. Instead, the outcome leaves the door open for the Socialists, who have controlled Andalusia for 30 years, to continue in government there if they can secure the support of another left-of-center party, United Left, which won 12 seats. …

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