Spain PM overhauls government with reshuffle

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Spain PM overhauls government with reshuffle

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The Spanish prime minister has announced the biggest cabinet reshuffle since the Socialists came to power in 2004.

But will it be enough to strengthen Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s unpopular government as it battles to revive Spain’s stagnant economy?

He, for one, seems to think so, presenting the changes as necessary to create a renewed and politically-strengthened administration.

“It will be a government of reforms, of definitive economic recovery and employment,” Zapatero said in an address carried live on television and radio.

New strong man Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba becomes deputy premier. He also remains interior minister, having won praise for what is seen as a successful campaign against Basque separatists ETA.

Health Minister Trinidad Jimenez takes over from Miguel Angel Moratinos as foreign minister.

And the ministries of equality and housing are being dissolved as part of moves to cut costs and reduce the deficit.

Key to those efforts will be new Labour Minister Valeriano Gomez. He has a good relationship with the unions and, after last month’s general strike, will try to placate them over pending pension reforms.

Amid cutbacks, salary reductions and the euro zone’s highest jobless rate, Spaniards must prepare to tighten their belts further. The reshuffle came as the lower house of parliament passed an austere 2011 budget.