Spain`s new Prime Minister sworn in, names Cabinet

Last Updated: Thursday, December 22, 2011 - 22:01

Madrid: Spain`s new conservative Prime
Minister was sworn in on Thursday and he later appointed his
Cabinet, including ministers charged with lifting the country
out of its severe economic crisis.

Mariano Rajoy was sworn in as premier before King Juan
Carlos. Rajoy then appointed 12 ministers and said close party
colleague Soraya Saenz de Santamaria would be government
spokeswoman and deputy premier.

Rajoy`s Popular Party won a landslide victory in Nov 20
elections on promises to lift Spain out of economic turmoil.
Spain has a eurozone-high unemployment rate of 21.5 per
cent, a swollen deficit and a stalled economy after a near
two-year recession triggered by the collapse of a real estate
bubble in 2009.

Luis de Guindos was appointed economy minister and he
will be aided by Cristobal Montoro, who was appointed finance
minister.

Rajoy named Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo as foreign
minister and placed Jorge Fernandez Diaz in charge of security
as interior minister.

Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardon was named justice
minister and Pedro Morenes will hold the defense portfolio.
Rajoy and the Popular Party replaced the Socialists, who
under Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had been in office since
2004 but were punished heavily in the elections for their
handling of the crisis.

Spain has already made sharp cuts to its national
spending and introduced several reforms under Zapatero in a
bid to convince investors and the European Union but the
measures have so far failed to boost the economy to any great
extent.

The country`s borrowing costs spiraled amid fears it
might need a bailout like Greece, Ireland and Portugal but in
recent weeks they have begun to slip back.

Rajoy on Monday pledged more austerity cuts totaling USD
21.6 billion.

The conservative leader promised reforms to encourage
companies to hire and tax breaks for small and medium-sized
firms that make up the bulk of the economy. He also intends
trimming government personnel with a hiring freeze for most
civil servant groups.

He is expected to announce further measures Friday after
his first weekly Cabinet meeting.

A property registrar by training, Rajoy held four
ministerial portfolios in the governments of Jose Maria Aznar
between 1996 and 2004. He was the party`s candidate twice
before being elected in November.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, December 22, 2011 - 22:01

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