By Eloise Horsfield

THE two contenders for Spain’s top job battled it out on live television last night ahead of the general election on November 20.

The debates between PP leader Mariano Rajoy and PSOE’s Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba drew 12 million spectators on 17 channels – that’s almost as many as the first Zapatero-Rajoy debate prior to the PSOE victory in 2008.

Predictably, the economy and Spain’s 22 per cent unemployment rate – more than twice the EU average – were top of the agenda.

Rajoy, 56, did not hesitate in citing the figures several times – five million more unemployed since Socialists PSOE came to power – and on hearing some of his opponent’s solutions asked, “Why didn’t you do that before?”

The PP leader, who promised he would not freeze pensions like the Socialists had, said: “The key question in this election is whether we will continue with the same politics, or manage things differently. I believe Spain needs change – and needs it urgently.”

For his part, 60-year-old Rubalcaba suggested Rajoy was hiding plans for enormous cuts and privisation, and that a PP victory would not guarantee the protection of health and education.

“If you tell people everything you have in your head, not even your own party members will vote for you,” he said.

The two men seemed to spend much of the 90-minute debate attacking each other rather than laying out clear policies, and PSOE commented afterwards that Rajoy avoided many of the questions put to him.

Surveys on the websites of Spain’s three main newspapers are torn over who won the debate, with El Pais readers putting Rubalcaba in front and ABC and El Mundo voting Rajoy as a clear winner.

The opinion polls are much more decisive, predicting unequivocally that Rajoy will win the general election on November 20 with an absolute majority.

Current PM Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is standing down after eight years in power.

1 COMMENT

  1. Everyone knows that PP and Rajoy are going to win the elections so why bother with this pointless sideshow. Spain needs to stand up and address its problems and this is ideal platform for the soon to be ex goverment to act. It would so refreshing for PSOE be it Zapatero or Rubalcaba to come out with the following.
    “we will give it our all to win the elections but it is time Spain looked at it’s black economy and corruption. The country is suffering at the hands of it’s own people who refuse to accept change. These people are those who work or employ people for cash, who claim their paro when working, constantly dodge their taxes declaring next to nothing on business’ or rented properties. It is time we address these problems as they are bleeding these country dry. etc etc”

    Of course this would never happen for fear of losing votes but if PSOE did speak of these things it would bring it into the open and they could use it against PP when they take power and fail to address it.

    The black economy in the south of Spain is huge and just the local Feria in my town sums it up. The feria runs for one week where i live and the towns population flock their like zombies. However all it is is a huge excuse to make black money as every cent made just goes straight into back pockets while the local buisness suffer and are empty. Nobody works with a contract and any local laws that bars and restaurants are forced to follow are ignored. This year i was invited to the PSOE Caseta and when i pointed out to the guy running it that the feria is destorying the local buisness and is harmful to the country in a time of criss as it is all tax free his response was;
    “no tio, es la feria” aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

    in Andalucia there must be 50+ local Ferias every year and if each one is 5 days on average then that is 250 days a year tax the country is losing out on, what crisis

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