CONSTITUTIONAL WRANGLE

Redrafting Constitution needs consensus and “clear objective,” says Rajoy

Socialist leader calls for clause to protect healthcare as fundamental right

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Thursday said he believed there was no political consensus to redraft the Spanish Constitution.

According to Rajoy there has to be "a clear objective," "a majority consensus," and an "opportune moment" to call together a constitutional convention.

The prime minister made his remarks to reporters during a break in Thursday's ceremonies in the Senate to celebrate the 34th anniversary of the signing of the Spanish Constitution.

Questions over whether Spain needed to make major reforms to its modern-day magna carta were brought up when opposition Socialist leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba suggested the Constitution should be rewritten to include public health as a fundamental right, as is already the case with education.

Rubalcaba said such a clause was needed to prevent future governments from making drastic cuts in health services similar to those being implemented by Rajoy's conservative Popular Party administration.

In his speech at the ceremony, Congress Speaker Jesús Posada said an economic crisis was "not the time to go embarking on revisionist adventures with doubtful results."

One of the biggest highlights at the ceremony occurred with the entrance of Education Minister José Ignacio Wert. "Give me some breathing space," he told reporters who surrounded him.

Wert has come under severe criticism after the announcement this week of his education reform proposal that aims to oblige public schools to employ more Spanish in regions where co-official languages — Catalan, Galician and Basque — are also taught in the classroom. When asked about the controversy he has unleashed, Wert said: "I am a fighting bull that grows stronger when provoked."

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