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Spain: Rajoy refuses to resign as opposition leader

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Spain: Rajoy refuses to resign as opposition leader

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The head of Spain’s opposition Mariano Rajoy is standing firm as leader, as his party descends into turmoil over his softer line towards Basque nationalists. Hundreds demonstrated outside the Popular Party headquarters in Madrid, building momentum to oust Rajoy. Two leading members have already resigned over his decision to be more open to talks with moderate Basque leaders. Right-wingers see his move as a betrayal of Spanish national unity.

Rajoy said: “Why can’t we talk to everyone? It’s one thing to talk to everybody, but another to arrive at an agreement by selling out our principles, and we’re not going to do that. We’ve always been a party who’ve talked to everyone. We’ve even allied ourselves with other political forces.”

The head of Madrid’s regional government, Esperanza Aguirre, is widely touted as a leading right-winger to take-over from Rajoy before the next election, due in 2012. Rajoy’s attempt to move the Popular Party towards the centre-ground was prompted by the general election in March, the PP’s second consecutive defeat in the polls with him at the helm.