Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Spanish Conservative Party Ousts Socialist Zapatero in Landslide Election

Spain's conservative Popular Party won at least 186 of the 350 seats in Congress during elections throughout Spain over the weekend, sweeping aside the Socialist government of Luis Zapatero. Zapatero had been PM since shortly after the deadly 2004 terrorist attacks on Madrid's commuter railways that killed 191 people.

Incoming Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy tempered his party's win with caution, stating that "there will be no miracles" in dealing with Spain's ongoing economic crisis. The wide margin of victory- the most lopsided since Spain resumed elections in the 1980s- is seen as giving the incoming Rajoy government a mandate to implement new austerity measures and avoid any kind of a bailout altogether.

Last weekend's elections took place amid a backdrop of Spain having the EU's highest unemployment rate- nearly 23%. Last week, Spain's borrowing costs spiked to their highest levels since 1997.

Earlier this year, Portugal's socialist PM Jose Socrates resigned and his party lost the majority in Parliament after snap elections gave the PSD Social Democrats the majority.

More recently, Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi resigned after the Italian Parliament approved his austerity package while Greece's socialist PM George Papandreou stepped down to make room for a new coalition after narrowly winning a no-confidence vote from Parliament the second week of November. Papandreou's resignation came a few days after his defence minister dismissed senior level Greek military commanders from their respective posts.

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