Spain's PM dissolves parliament before elections

Updated: 2011-09-26 22:37


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Spain's PM dissolves parliament before elections
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (C) arrives for the last parliamentary session before Spain's November general election in Madrid Sept 22, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

MADRID - Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero dissolved parliament on Monday, but pledged more measures to tackle Spain's economic crisis before a November election that is expected to hand power to the conservative opposition.

Zapatero has called elections for November 20, four months earlier than originally planned, in the hope that faint signs of an economic recovery could offset unpopularity after years of deep austerity measures in a country where one in five is unemployed.

However, since August, the worsening euro zone crisis has forced the government to push through even more reforms as it tries to avoid a bailout like in Greece, Portugal and Ireland.

"We'll continue to adopt measures if necessary," Zapatero told reporters after a cabinet meeting, given continued uncertainty in Greece, which remains in talks to avoid default.

Even though the Spanish parliament is officially dissolved, a permanent legislative committee can approve emergency measures in the event the euro zone crisis takes a turn for the worse.

Before local elections in May, tens of thousands of demonstrators, known as "los indignados" (the indignant), took to streets across Spain in peaceful protests against the mainstream politicians they blame for the country's prolonged economic woes.

Zapatero has been criticized for reacting too late to Spain's economic turmoil after a burst property bubble, and polls show the conservative People's Party (PP), led by Mariano Rajoy, likely to defeat the Socialists with an absolute majority in November.  

The Gesop opinion poll for Catalonian daily El Periodico showed on Monday a total of 46 percent of voters intend to choose the PP. It also showed the Socialists, led into the elections by former Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, obtaining 31.4 percent of votes.

The election campaign will officially start on November 4.

"Zapatero is likely to try to maintain the low profile he's adopted from here on out," said Carlos Barrera, who teaches politics at Navarre University.  

Spanish bond yields are still near their own euro-era highs with investors unconvinced the euro zone's fourth largest economy will avoid a Greek-style bailout at some point.