Spain's king calls for anti-crisis coalition

King Carlos met the economy minister, union officials and business leaders.

Spain's king calls for anti-crisis coalition

King Juan Carlos met the economy minister, union officials and business leaders on Friday, to discuss his call for a wide-ranging accord to help lift Spain out of its worst recession in more than half a century.

Days after some politicians called for political parties to join forces to rescue the economy, the king used a speech on Thursday to appeal for national unity and followed that up the next day by meeting labour and business figures and Economy Minister Elena Salgado.

"His Majesty the King has on numerous occasions called for broad dialogue and a drive to reach consensus and agreements to overcome our difficulties," said a news release posted on the royal household's website (www.casareal.es).

It gave no details on what was discussed in Friday's meetings.

Earlier this week, the leader of Catalonia's centre-right party CiU, Artur Mas, proposed an agreement between major political parties to convince international markets Spain can meet its promises to bring its rising debt under control.

The proposal had a cool reception from the ruling Socialist Party and most analysts think a unity deal is unlikely.

Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa de la Vega said the government, which lacks an absolute majority in parliament, was already working closely with unions and opposition parties.

But the involvement of the king -- who holds a largely ceremonial post but is widely respected in Spain for his role in foiling an attempted military coup in 1981 -- may raise pressure for some kind of unity pact.

Antonio Argandona, an economics professor at Spanish business school IESE, said: "We're clearly lacking political leadership in Spain right now, both from the government and the opposition.

"The politicians don't want to act, and the king has stepped up to say this is a national problem."

Struggling to persuade international debt markets that it is in better shape than Greece, which may need support from the European Union, Spain, which has seen the spread of its 10-year government bonds over German bunds rise to about 80 basis points, has said it will slice 50 billion euros ($68.36 billion) from public spending.

But, with unions threatening street protests and over half the budget controlled by 17 regional governments, analysts say Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's promise to cut 8.4 percentage points from the deficit in 3 years is sounding hollow.

"The fact that the name of the king is starting to appear in the papers is an indication of the seriousness of the situation," said Barcelona-based economist Edward Hughes.

Reuters

Last Mod: 12 Şubat 2010, 20:14
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