Rajoy: "We take the deficit seriously and will cut back wherever possible"

The Popular Party candidate tells EL PAÍS that pensions are safe, but all other social spending could be curtailed; abortion reform and a repeal of gay marriage left up in the air

JAVIER MORENO 17 NOV 2011 - 13:35 CET

With Spaniards poised to go to the polls to elect a new government on Sunday, EL PAÍS interviewed Popular Party (PP) candidate Mariano Rajoy, who holds a significant lead in projected voter intention over his Socialist counterpart, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba. Admitting that he has not yet informed his future economy minister of his or her appointment if the PP wins, Rajoy nonetheless stated that "we are very clear on what needs to be done" to drag Spain out of the crisis.

The PP leader expressed his desire to meet the European budget deficit target of 4.4 percent for 2012, calling the current administration's estimate of 2.3 percent growth "not credible."

"We have to make a growth forecast and from there assess income and expenses. But I insist; Spain has to send a message that the subject of public deficit is being taken seriously."

Rajoy reiterated his party's intention to leave pensions unscathed, not to raise taxes and to avoid co-payment for medical care, but gave few assurances over other possible cutbacks. "Maybe we will have to carry out fewer public works and give priority to finishing the ones in progress. We will have to abolish many regional bodies. We have to do many things and make cuts wherever possible." Asked if Spain has an excess of civil servants, Rajoy said "in some sectors maybe we don't need as many as we have," adding that the five-percent salary cut imposed last year would not be lifted "at this time."

During the campaign, Rubalcaba has proposed asking Brussels for a two-year stay on deficit-reduction targets: "I think it is a bad message, especially when the current government is saying the opposite. The economy minister intends to maintain the six-percent target for this year and is pressuring the regions not to exceed 1.3 percent. I like her message more than the candidate's."

With union backlashes against cuts and education and healthcare strikes across Spain, does the PP leader foresee more general strikes? "I hope there are none. I think that if the decisions that need to be made are explained, it would be unjust to carry out strikes. But if they do, logically that is their right."

Extolling stronger export ties with Latin America, Rajoy also expressed his desire for democracy in Cuba. On the home front, the PP candidate, who enjoys the odd cigar, said that the Anti-Tobacco Law could be changed, although he stressed it was not "a priority."

On same-sex marriages, Rajoy said the Constitutional Court would have the final word on the current law but the abortion legislation contained "two or three things" that could be changed.

Otras noticias

Mariano Rajoy, pictured during the interview. / MARISA FLÓREZ

Últimas noticias

Ver todo el día

Fuentes en Londres

El autor celebra la atinada idea de colocar una placa del escritor mexicano en la entrada del edificio 9 de Barkston Gardens

Una universidad virtual en euskera

EFE San Sebastián

El catedrático Juan José Álvarez, premio Eusko Ikaskuntza, plantea crear un "sistema integrado" de las universidades de Euskadi, Navarra y el País Vasco francés

La México abre la taquilla el 2 de noviembre para ver a José Tomás

Rosa Jiménez Cano San Francisco

Toreará mano a mano con la revelación mexicana Joselito Adame el 31 de enero de 2016


“La plaza la hemos sacado para él... No te presentes”

Joaquín Gil Madrid

Un ex alto cargo de Justicia presionó a un profesor para que no aspirara a un puesto en la Universidad de Cantabria

Un edificio que factura un millón al año y no paga IBI

El histórico seminario de Vic seguirá sin tributar pese a carecer de uso confesional

Lo más visto en...

» Top 50

Webs de PRISA

cerrar ventana