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Thursday, 27 September 2012

Madrid Protesters March Again As Spain Braces For Cuts

Spanish protesters marched for a second night in Madrid, calling on Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to reverse austerity measures as his government prepared its fifth package of budget cuts.
Demonstrators returned late yesterday to the site of clashes with police, who said three people were arrested and three injured. As Greek police in Athens dispersed protesters with tear gas, Rajoy played down the rallies in Madrid, telling a conference in New York that the “immense majority” of Spaniards aren’t on the street and his government still has three years to pursue its economic overhaul.
“Rajoy is likely to face a very tough end-of-year in terms of social discontent,” said Antonio Barroso, a political analyst at Eurasia Group in London and a former Spanish government pollster. “Protests are likely to continue in the future, and the overall degree of mobilization could increase if trade unions decide to call for a general strike.”Rajoy risks renewed criticism today when the Cabinet approves the 2013 budget and presents measures to bolster the shrinking economy. The premier is struggling to persuade European peers, voters and investors that he can tackle the crisis. Spain’s bonds have slumped amid rising investor expectations that Rajoy will delay asking for external aid.
The Cabinet convenes at 11 a.m. and the meeting is usually followed by a news conference at about 2 p.m. The draft law will be presented to Parliament on Sept. 29.

Bond Yields

Spanish bond yields, which rose by the most in two months yesterday, climbed 3 basis points to 6.10 percent, the highest since Sept. 6, at 9 a.m. in Madrid.
The premier’s efforts to restore investor confidence and voters’ faith in his leadership suffered a new setback on Sept. 25 when Catalan President Artur Mas called early elections to push for “self-determination” for the country’s largest regional economy. Rajoy hasn’t responded to the challenge, saying only that he respects the regional government. Mas proposed yesterday a referendum on the region’s future.
“Spain is increasingly slipping out of his hands,” opposition Socialist leader Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said yesterday in Parliament. “There are clear fractures in Spain and the one I’m most worried about is social fracture.”

Suffering Spaniards

Rajoy didn’t mention Catalonia at a speech to the Americas Society in New York, where he focused instead on efforts to overhaul an economy that is suffering from its second recession in three years and an unemployment rate of 25 percent. He praised Spaniards who put up with austerity and hardships without protesting.
“They are the people who suffer, who are seeing huge difficulties and face many problems,” he said.
They may be asked to accept deeper cuts today as the government presents a spending plan designed to reduce the deficit to 4.5 percent of output next year from 6.3 percent in 2012. As part of those efforts, Rajoy said Sept. 25 he will create an independent fiscal authority, following European recommendations.
The Cabinet will also approve a package of measures to jumpstart the economy that Economy Minister Luis de Guindos pledged to European peers earlier this month. While the government has already rewritten labor-market rules, changed tax structures and taken steps to reduce bureaucracy and regulation, the European Union and International Monetary Fund have called for additional moves to make the economy more competitive and better able to export its way out of the crisis.

Rajoy Delays

Rajoy is also facing criticism from European peers for delaying a decision on whether to seek a bailout from the euro- region’s rescue fund that would allow the European Central Bank to prop up the nation’s bond market. The premier, who has spent two months saying he will consider it, said on Sept. 25 in comments to the Wall Street Journal that were confirmed by his office that he would “100 percent” seek help if bond yields remained too high.
The ruling People’s Party faces elections in Galicia, Rajoy’s home region, and the Basque Country on Oct. 21, as polls show voters are turning away from the PP in favor of smaller parties. The largest opposition group, the Socialist party, has failed to capitalize on Rajoy’s losses, polls show.

Edited By Cen Fox Post Team

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