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BBC World Service

Spain’s new prime minister will tackle debt, unemployment

Adriene Hill Dec 21, 2011

Adriene Hill: Spain swore in a new prime minister today. Conservative Mariano Rajoy has promised to lift Spain out of its economic crisis. But it’s not gonna be easy.

Guy Hedgecoe is the BBC reporter in Mardrid. He joins us now. Good morning.

Guy Hedgecoe: Good morning.

Hill: So, we’ve got a new prime minister in Spain today — what do we know about his plan to get the country’s debt situation under control?

Hedgecoe: Mariano Rajoy has spoken to some extent about his plans. He hasn’t given much detail, but on Monday he said that he has three main priorities for the coming months. First of all, to cut the deficit down to around 4.5 percent next year — so that’s his first priority. He also said that he wants to restructure the banking sector. And also, Rajoy talked about structural reforms that he plans to implement, in particular a labor reform.

Hill: And what is the appetite for cuts right now in Spain?

Hedgecoe: Spaniards aren’t keen on the idea of cuts. They’ve already faced some quite severe cuts under the outgoing prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and those were very unpopular. And Rajoy looks like he’s planning on continuing certain policies of Zapatero, to an extent — certainly the cuts, and they may be even bigger cuts than Zapatero’s.

So this could be difficult for Rajoy, because he wants to cut the deficit, but he also wants to cut the unemployment line. Now he may be very successful at cutting the deficit in the coming months, and that will please European leaders and so on. But it’s not necessarily going to please Spaniards, unless they see the jobless lines start to reduce a bit.

Hill: Guy Hedgecoe is a BBC reporter in Mardrid. Thanks so much.

Hedgecoe: It’s a pleasure.

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