Spanish PM Zapatero looks for alliance to form government

March 10th, 2008 - 10:53 pm ICT by admin  

Madrid, March 10 (DPA) Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, said Monday that he may seek the support of several political parties for his new government after falling short of an absolute majority in Sunday’s elections. It was too early to discuss stable alliances or temporary agreements, Zapatero said on commenting the election results, but pledged to maintain a dialogue with all the political forces including the conservative opposition.

The Socialists were expected to seek alliances with some of the regionalist and leftist parties that backed them during the previous legislature.

Zapatero said the election results gave his party a “sufficient majority” to take forward its programme, which would focus on supporting the slowing economy, on boosting employment and on social policy.

Foreign policy would seek to increase Europe’s relevance in the world, Zapatero said, pledging to relaunch Spain’s “European engagement.”

The Socialists took 44 per cent of the vote and 169 seats in the 350-strong parliament, up from 164 seats in 2004.

The opposition conservative People’s Party (PP) reaped 40 per cent and 153 seats, up from 148 seats four years ago.

Sunday’s elections were also overshadowed by bloodshed, with the militant Basque separatist group ETA gunning down a former Socialist councillor in the Basque town of Arrasate two days before the poll.

Tens of thousands of people attended silent rallies in front of city halls all over Spain to protest the killing on Monday.

The fight against ETA has been one of the main points of disagreement between the government and the PP, which condemned Zapatero’s unsuccessful attempt to negotiate with the group, accusing him of being lenient on terrorists.

In addition to the continuing challenge of ETA, which killed five people during Zapatero’s first legislature, the new government would have to take unpopular measures to stem a rising inflation and unemployment rate, commentators said.

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