Sunday, 20 November 2011

Memos from Member States

Spain:Centre-right predicted to win general elections

Voters in Spain headedto the polls on Sunday in an election expected to bring an end to over 7 years of socialist party rule. Opinion polls conductedin November predict that the centre-right Partido Popular, led by Mariano RajoyBrey, will win more than 45 per cent of the vote, some 15 per cent aheadof the Socialists.

The election wascalled by current prime minister, Jose Luis RodriguezZapatero, amid concerns over the economy. With slow growth, the highest unemploymentrates in Europe, and borrowing rates that passed 6 per cent this week, theeconomy has been at the centre of the election campaign.

The Partido Popularhas gained support due to its proposed policies to fix the country's economicproblems and reduce unemployment. The PartidoSocialista Obrero Español has been critical of these policies however, accusingMr Rajoy of planning to make severe cuts to health and education.

The voting boxesopened at 9am Sunday morning, and as this article went live, votes were stillbeing counted.

Poland:Austerity all the way

Following the exampleof its Western European neighbours, Poland’s newly re-elected government hasadopted an austerity package to cut the country’sdebt and shield the nation from the worsening crisis in the euro zone.

Donald Tusk, Poland’sprime minister, has pledged also to cut tax and pension privileges for certain groups, and to raise the retirement age for both men andwomen to 67.

Theausterity measures come in spite of the fact that Poland is the only member ofthe European Union that escaped recession, with 15 per cent of growth over thepast three years.

Italy: ‘Super’ Mariowins second confidence vote
Italian primeminister, Mario Monti, has won a crucial confidence vote in the lower house ofparliament. 

Former European Commission and senior advisor to GoldmanSachs, Mr Monti wassworn in to lead a government of experts after Italy’s worsening economiccrisis forced out Silvio Berlusconi on 12 November.

The vote endorses the technocratic government'sprogramme after Mr Monti requested that he continue in office until newelections in 2013. The vote had previously been approved by the upper house ofparliament, by 281 votes to 25.

Mr Berlusconi, who still benefits fromconsiderable support in parliament, said he would back the new cabinet staying inoffice but warned that he would bring down the new government if he did not approveof their policies.

Mr Monti has promised to reformpensions and fight tax evasion to reduce the country's debt.

Italy’s new leader has already facedprotests by those concerned with growing unemployment, further austerity, andhis own undemocratic appointment.

By Sonia Jordan