Socialists close ranks to defend Spain's solvency
European Commissioner Almunia calls for unity
European Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia has weighed into the war of words between the government and the main opposition Popular Party (PP) over Spain's economic state, calling for all combatants to serve the national interest.
"What we say, whether we occupy a post in government, opposition, Europe or the regions, has great importance in defending the interests of 40 million Spaniards," Almunia told Cadena Ser radio on Thursday. "We have to send a message that we know what we have to do, and that we will succeed."
Almunia's comments came after the PP press spokesman, Esteban González Pons, made disparaging remarks about Economy Minister Elena Salgado and suggested the government was lying about the state of its accounts. "Those who lie to Spaniards are not protecting Spain," González Pons said on Wednesday.
Spain is in the sights of international speculators as fear of contagion from the Irish crisis spreads across Iberia. The European Central Bank on Thursday hinted it believes a rescue package may be required for Spain, which saw its risk premium soar once again.
The PP fell upon a comment of Almunia's discourse in which the former leader of the Socialist Party said there are "doubts whether Spain can apply all the established pledges." Almunia also suggested "there may be something under the carpet that has not been put upon the table."
"Spain doesn't have to end up like anybody else," the PP's economic chief, Cristóbal Montoro, said of his party's own proposals for economic reform. "Three years and we are where we are. This should prompt reflection over why [the government] has applied this economic policy." Elena Valenciano, a government spokesperson, accused the PP of having "all its spokespeople generating doubt about Spain's solvency. [PP leader] Mariano Rajoy is fueling speculation with his silence."