Rajoy won’t have time to celebrate victory

The landslide victory by the People’s Party (PP) in Spanish general elections on 20 November — 45% of the vote as opposed to 28% won by Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba’s socialists (PSOE) — has given Mariano Rajoy enormous power in a country, which the Spanish press notes, is deep in the doldrums. But in the context of the debt crisis, Rajoy is unlikely to benefit from much room for manoeuvre.

Published on 21 November 2011 at 13:12

For centre-left daily El País, “the crisis has given all the power Rajoy” at a moment when the country has “no time to waste”, as the headline of the newspaper’s editorial points out. The daily continues:


On the eve of the election, the Spanish economy sank into the bailout zone alongside Italy — yet another reason for outgoing Prime Minister Rodríguez Zapatero and his newly elected successor, Mariano Rajoy, to make a joint gesture, as early as Monday, which clearly shows that Spain can quickly and effectively adopt all of the necessary economic decisions before the return of further uncertainty about European debt,. ... A rapid deterioration of the political capital that voters have given to the new administration would not only be a worrying perspective for the PP, but also for the entire country, which has to contend with a crisis that will require significant sacrifices. Rajoy, who avoided mentioning these sacrifices during his campaign, stressed the virtues of a simple change of government. ... However, the gravity of the economic situation is such that he now has to put an end to any ambiguity by presenting his government’s programme and the team that he has designated to implement it. – El País

Conservative daily El Mundo focuses on the unequivocal nature of Rajoy’s victory and the heavy defeat suffered by Rubalcaba:

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The leader of the PP has been granted a level of power that is unprecedented in the history of our democracy. Not only has his party obtained 186 seats in the Congress of Deputies, but it also has control of virtually all of the autonomous regions and the vast majority of municipal governments. In other circumstances, such a concentration of power would be dangerous, but in a crisis like the current one, the government will need a free hand to take decisions. ... Rajoy will be obliged to introduce unpopular measures […], and to keep sight of the fact that his political capital will soon be eroded by the obligation to push through much needed reforms, which Zapatero lacked the courage to implement. ... The PSOE [socialist party] has been severely punished by the electorate, which gave it the lowest share of the vote in the history of our democracy. There is no denying that this was mainly in response to Zapatero and his team’s extremely poor management of the economy. But the socialist debacle is also in part due to their candidate’s lacklustre campaign, which was solely based on fear of the PP […]. The fact that 71% cast their votes amounts to a victory for democracy at a time when an entire fringe of society is disillusioned with Spain’s political class and its institutions. No one can now say: “they do not represent us”. – El Mundo

Catalonia’s La Vanguardia highlights what it terms a “deserved” victory for Mariano Rajoy, who,


... over the last four years, has succeeded in attracting voters disappointed by the socialists and restoring party policies […] that have given the PP the moderate positions it needed to reconquer the political centre. – La Vanguardia

Finally, conservative daily ABC draws attention to the urgency of the situation:


We will need to immediately embark on a comprehensive and intelligent transition, with direct PP participation in economic decisions taken by Rodríguez Zapatero’s outgoing government […]. The change that began yesterday will have to deliver concrete results as soon as possible. – ABC

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