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Zapatero 2.0 (1)

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José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero begins his second term at the head of the Spanish Government after being able to be sworn in as President of the Government thanks to a fragile but paradoxically solid simple majority at the Spanish Parliament. Even without the trust of the majority of the deputies, several elements give leeway to ZP (the nickname by which he is known in Spain).

First of all, the Partido Popular (People’s Party) is undergoing internal reforms. The prospect of being in opposition for 4 more years has opened a Pandora’s box for the Spanish conservative party and its leader, Mariano Rajoy, who is beginning to be questioned inside his own party. The first "cainite" stone has been cast recently by the President of the Community of Madrid, Esperanza Aguirre.

On the other hand, as far as everyday administration is concerned, the socialist government can rely on alternate support from a wide range of minority political forces. Even though the media talk about two main priority partners from the regions: the Basque Nationalist Party and Convergence and Union, the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party) can reach specific agreements concerning social issues with the minority forces of the Republican Left of Catalonia as they did at the end of the first legislature. Even the People’s Party seems now ready to debate issues like terrorism and the funding of the autonomous communities.

Whatever the options chosen by the PSOE, the next 4 years will be a real challenge for Zapatero. With the economy slowing down (the IMF predicts a Spanish growth below the 2% of the GDP), the inflation going through the roof (4%), the construction industry (one of the pillars of the growth of the recent years) dropping alarmingly, the ghost of job losses around the corner (the Spanish Employer Association predicts the destruction of 600,000 work positions in 2008), the peace process in the Basque Country in tatters, the Sword of Damocles of the Constitutional Court on the controversial Statute of Catalonia, etc… everything points that Zapatero will be very busy during next years. Will he cope with everything?

Photo credits: (© Guillaume Paumier / Wikimedia Commons)

Translation by Anna Prims