‘Experienced hand’ to lead Spain out of crisis

‘Experienced hand’ to lead Spain out of crisis

MADRID - Agence France-Presse
‘Experienced hand’ to lead Spain out of crisis

New Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is sworn in during a ceremony at the Zarzuela Palace in the Spanish capital of Madrid on Dec 21. AFP photo

Spain’s press yesterday hailed Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s new right-leaning government as a seasoned team selected to battle a crisis that has left five million unemployed.

Rajoy, whose Popular Party won a landslide victory over the Socialists the in Nov. 20 elections, named the line-up on Dec. 21 evening hours after being sworn in to the top job by King Juan Carlos.

Spain’s leading daily El Pais said the grey-bearded, 56-year-old prime minister had drawn up a centrist government in his own image.

“Now we just need this to be confirmed with deeds and attitudes that for the moment are just an image. Before them is a country worried by the crisis and waiting to know what their program is,” the newspaper said.

Conservative daily ABC agreed that the task ahead would be ardous. “It is a government prepared for an unprecedented crisis and which, with a smaller budget than any other, must apply the most thankless policies ever,” the paper said.

The team of 13 ministers notably featured a financier, former Lehman Brothers banker Luis de Guindos,
51, as economy minister.

U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy in Sept. 15, 2008, becoming the biggest victim of the global credit crisis. De Guindos headed Lehman in Spain before the bankruptcy.

The architect of Rajoy’s economic rescue plan, 61-year-old Popular Party veteran Cristobal Montoro was named as minister of the Treasury.

“That means that the experienced Montoro will be charged with carrying out the difficult and thankless task of cutting public spending and making sure the accounts balance,” said the center-right daily El Mundo.

Experienced, centrist Popular Party politicians who stayed loyal to Rajoy during his years of opposition were rewarded with the key posts in the government, papers said. Rajoy named only four women, abandoning the former Socialist government’s practice of sharing posts equally between the sexes.

Three posts for de Santamaria
But one of those women, 40-year-old Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, the youngest member of the cabinet, accumulated enormous power in the new government, the press said.

Saenz, a trained lawyer and married mother of a baby born just last month, had been spokeswoman for the Popular Party in the lower house of parliament since 2008. Rajoy named her to three posts: deputy prime minister; government spokeswoman; and minister responsible for relations between the premier and parliament.

“There is no doubt that Rajoy has tasked her with coordinating the government’s political actions,” said an editorial in El Mundo, arguing that she had assumed “unprecedented power.”

Migrants flock to Germany

BERLIN - Reuters

Greeks and Spaniards with little or no chance of finding work are flocking to Germany in search of jobs, data showed yesterday.

Figures from Germany’s statistics office show immigration has surged in the wake of Europe’s debt crisis, as Germany’s powerful and so-far resilient economy attracts those from crisis-hit euro states.
Immigrants arriving from Greece soared 84 percent in the first half of 2011, while those from Spain rose 49 percent. In total 67,000 more foreigners moved to Germany than in the same period a year earlier.

“It’s striking to see the strong rise in immigration from EU countries particularly hard-hit by the financial and debt crises,” the office said.

Unemployment in Greece is running at 17.7 percent and expected to continue climbing through next year, while in Spain more than one in five are out of work. By contrast, Germany’s joblessness rate of 6.9 percent is its lowest in two decades.