Zapatero to stand down at next election


Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) has said that he will not contest the next general election scheduled for March 2012.  He stated that he would stay on as Prime Minister until then.

The PSOE has been in government since March 2004, but in recent times they have come under increasing pressure as their response to the world economic problems has left Spain in poor condition.  Unemployment is currently around 20%, the highest in the European Union.

This announcement will start a battle for the leadership of the PSOE with Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba and Defense Minister Carme Chacon looking like leading contenders.

Past experience suggests that Zapatero will find it increasingly difficult to remain in office as a new leader emerges and that he may well stand aside later this year.

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