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Wednesday, 12 March 2008


Congratulations to Spain's returning Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. It is very good to see another centre left government in Europe and to know that Spaniards have confidence in their socialist party. "The Spanish people have spoken clearly and have decided to open a new period without tension, without confrontation," Mr Zapatero told the flag-waving crowd gathered outside his party's Madrid headquarters.

Mr Zapatero has promised a new era in Spanish politics, after winning another four year term in office. The election result was a clear endorsement of the prime minister's programme of liberal reforms - including a gender-equality law, fast-track divorces and same-sex marriage - which has been fiercely opposed by conservatives and the Roman Catholic Church.

However, after a decade of growth, Spain is stuttering. Inflation is at a 10-year high and unemployment is the highest this century. The Spanish housing boom is dwindling, exacerbated by the global credit crunch. As a result Mr Zapatero is expected to start his new term by announcing measures to boost growth and jobs. I'm sure you will join me in wishing him every success.

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