Arab Today, arab today spain\s rajoy defends leadership through crisis
Last Updated : GMT 20:25:41
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Spain\'s Rajoy defends leadership through crisis

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Spain\'s Rajoy defends leadership through crisis

Madrid - AFP

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy defends his government\'s first seven months in power on Friday, a tenure marked by deep recession, 25-percent unemployment and a massive bank bailout from EU partners. Rajoy, who seldomly speaks to the press, will be eager to put on a brave face as Spain\'s weak financial health and soaring borrowing prices continue to rattle the entire eurozone and throw turmoil on the financial markets. He presents his progress report at 2:00 pm (1200 GMT). But he told Friday\'s edition of El Pais: \"Spain must push through all the reforms imposed by Europe and demand a humiliating second rescue as early as today if Rajoy wants to avoid a extreme punishment by the world markets.\" Spain\'s problems are now the flash point of the debt crisis but on Thursday, after a policy meeting, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi held back from announcing new measures that could bring quick relief.Last week Draghi said the ECB would do everything to save the euro, raising hopes the central bank would intervene directly on government bond markets to force down borrowing costs for the likes of Spain. But on Thursday, he insisted the onus was on eurozone governments, saying they had to carry out promised reforms and turn to the bloc\'s bailout funds before the ECB could step in. In the absence of concrete measures, the markets reeled on Thursday, with Spanish borrowing costs spiking back to danger levels above 7.0 percent and Madrid stocks slumping more than 5.0 percent. Italy was also hit badly. Some of those losses were clawed back on Friday, but the remainder of the summer promises to be tense: there is still no clear solution to the crisis yet in sight and the EU rescue fund meant to help Spain is still not operational. Despite the tensions, Spain has repeatedly brushed off the need for a full-blown EU-IMF bailout similar to those received by Greece, Ireland and Portugal and that would come with strict strings attached. On Thursday in Madrid, Rajoy told a joint news conference with his Italian counterpart Mario Monti that neither country intended to ask for a full-fledged bailout. Since unseating the Socialists in December, Rajoy\'s conservative government has defied widespread protests to push a series of austerity measures in a bid to send a strong signal that Spain\'s finances will quickly be back in order. But during Rajoy\'s first months in power he and his ministers have been forced to back-track on a succession of assurances that certain lines would not be crossed -- assurances that later proved empty. So after months of saying that the Spanish financial sector, wrecked by a property boom that crashed in 2008, could survive the crisis unaided Spain formally requested an EU bailout for its banks worth up to 100 billion euros ($120 billion). EU and eurozone leaders granted the bailout at a June summit, even agreeing that the rescue loans reach banks directly, effectively keeping off the Spanish government\'s books so as not to exacerbate the public accounts. But the pressure towards asking for a full bailout is stronger than ever: on Monday official data showed the country\'s downturn deepened in the second quarter, the economy having shrunk 0.4 percent after contracting 0.3 percent in the first three months of 2012. And unemployment in the second quarter reached 24.63 percent of the workforce -- a huge 53 percent among the young. Those figures give Rajoy little room to cut public spending any further, amid rising public anger.

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