Nov. 20: Spanish General Election
El Mundo: 20-N: elecciones generales
Manuel Sánchez reporting from Madrid July 29, 2011
The President has made the announcement from Moncloa (the seat of the government).
The president has yielded to the desires of his party and [its presidential candidate] Rubalcaba.
There will be a parliamentary session in September to resolve unfinished business.
The decision goes against Zapatero’s desire to serve the maximum possible term.
He says that he made the decision “to obey my responsibilities and the public interest.”
He also announced that he will not he will not be a candidate for a seat in Parliament.
November 20 will no longer be remembered only as the date of the death of Francisco Franco. In less than four months, there will be early general elections on that day. The announcement was made by President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who has finally yielded to the desires of his party and the Socialist candidate, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, and has decided to end his term early; it could have run until March.
The President made the announcement during a speech in the Palace of Moncloa in which he reviewed the first half of the year. He has practically finished off this year’s parliamentary session, although there will be some meetings at the beginning of September to finish off laws in progress which are to return to the lower house from the Senate.
Although technically it will not be an advance election, what’s certain is that Zapatero made the decision against his will, as he had expressed several times that he wanted to serve the full possible term. The president, with pension reform complete, believes he has finished his political era and culminated the reforms announced in May 2010.
A New Government From the First of January
During the conference in the Moncloa press room, Zapatero strained to explain why he considered the advance election a positive development when he was saying the opposite not long before.
According to the president, “It is convenient that the newly elected government will take on its responsibilities to the country when the fiscal year begins January 1.”
“Certainty is stability, and I’ve been thinking we should have a clear calendar. On January 1, the new government should work on our economic recovery and the reduction of the deficit and should guarantee the consolidation of our recuperation,” the president added.
When asked why precisely he chose 11/20, a historically significant date, Zapatero said that for him, it’s “just another date”. He claimed that he wanted to “fit” the November calendar, with its “festivals and long vacation”: “the 20th of November permits us to sort out the problem of dates that would affect the electoral campaign.”
An Election “Without An Electioneering Aspect”
The President said that the idea of an advanced election “had been thought over and had ripened” for some time, and he preferred to announce the date in order to “project political and economic certainty.”
“Now the public debate will not revolve around the date of the election but rather the work we have to do to complete and finish it,” said Zapatero, who stressed that improving his party’s prospects had no part in his decision. Before departing, the President also announced that he would not be a candidate for the next legislature and he would not attend the mining festival in Rodiezmo (León).