Veteran economy minister Pedro Solbes has been cast out of Spain’s cabinet in a reshuffle aimed at reviving a government struggling with the recession.
Widely criticised for failing to get to grips with a downturn that has hit the Spanish hard, he has been replaced by Elena Salgado. A public administration minister seen as an effective manager, she is a little known quantity for the financial markets. But her appointment, along with other cabinet changes, is part of the prime minister’s plan to breathe new life into his administration. Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told reporters that the evolving political context and economic situation demanded a change of rhythm and a new impetus as Spain looks ahead. He said the start of next year would be particularly important. That is when Madrid begins its six month stint at the helm of the European Union. But the premier’s strategy of out with the old and in with the new does not guarantee an early end to Spanish woes or a rise in the ruling Socialists’ popularity. With the EU’s highest rate of unemployment, some experts say the country is probably heading for an extended period of stagnation.