Hailing Spain’s improving economic health under his conservative government’s stewardship, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned austerity-weary voters against the temptation to back popular hard-left Podemos party in elections due this year.
Eyeing municipal and regional elections in May, and legislative polling expected in November, Rajoy said Sunday that hard-won economic recovery created by painful austerity policies must not be lost by a voter “leap in the dark” in backing leftist populists from Podemos.
“We can not bet our future and those of our children in a frivolous game of Russian roulette,” Rajoy told a congress of his Popular Party in Madrid Sunday, referring to Podemos — which like its Greek party ally Syriza has found considerable popular support by rejecting austerity programs adopted amid economic crisis.
With polls showing Podemos running shoulder-to-shoulder with conservatives, Rajoy issued warnings about progress that would be lost if Spain reversed policies imposed as part of an international bailout of the country.
“Between last year and this one, we created a million jobs in Spain,” Rajoy said, adding that result makes “us the country creating the most jobs in Europe now.”
After six years of brutal recession, the International Monetary Fund forecasts 2015 Spanish economic growth of 2 percent, even higher the Madrid’s own 1.7 percent estimate.
With that in mind, Rajoy urged Spain to stay its current course, and resist replicating what some observers expect will be Greek voters renouncing reform- and austerity-prescribing parties in Sunday balloting.
“Our economic activity is growing and will continue to grow,” he said, vowing more will be done so that “everyone will benefit from this economic recovery.”
“All the worry, all the insecurity, all the despair, we can forget all of that,” Rajoy said of the crisis he claimed was behind Spain, despite its resistantly high 23.7 percent unemployment rate.
“Spain has been saved from a catastrophe that had appeared inevitable.”
Despite the brightening economic outlook — and the growing optimism of ruling conservatives as elections near — Podemos has remained popular since its creation a year ago by hammering away at the numerous corruption scandals plaguing the country’s leaders, Rajoy and his conservatives in particular.
In his speech, Rajoy mocked the ties some Podemos leaders have created with leftist governments in Latin America by saying “we know that (our) problems can not be resolved with magic works or Caribbean incantations.”
Rajoy also reserved a swipe for the traditional Socialist rivals — from whom his conservatives wrested power in 2011 — noting the mainstream left refuses to even recognise economic recovery “because this (improvement) is the most obvious proof of their failure.