Spain's premier-elect in crisis meet with Zapatero

AP News
Posted: Nov 24, 2011 6:32 AM
Spain's premier-elect in crisis meet with Zapatero

Spain's incoming and outgoing prime ministers have met secretly on the debt crisis, trying to quickly address the economic crisis walloping Spain and the 17-nation eurozone.

An official from the Popular Party, which won Sunday's general election, said its leader Mariano Rajoy conferred for two hours with acting Premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Wednesday. The meeting was unannounced. The official spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity in line with party policy.

Some meeting had been expected following Sunday's landslide election victory for the conservative Popular Party, which ousted the Socialist government after nearly seven years in power. But it was silently moved up to Wednesday as Spain's rising borrowing costs and other economic woes give no hint of abating.

Rajoy is due to be sworn in as prime minister in mid-December, but Zapatero who will represent Spain at an EU summit on Dec. 9.

The Spanish newspaper El Mundo said the two agreed on a common position for the upcoming EU summit: that Spain must push for the European Central Bank to keep buying Spanish debt and even increase those purchases to push down yields and lower Spain's borrowing costs.

The Popular Party official said she could not confirm this.

Rajoy has not spoken about the debt crisis since his party won, leaving Spaniards and investors wondering how he plans to create jobs to tackle Spain's 21.5 unemployment rate, meet deficit-reduction targets and resurrect an economy that posted no growth in the third quarter.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Rajoy but also urged him to act quickly in undertaking reforms to boost the economy, as have two major credit ratings agencies.