SP commends Spanish Premier as he urges fellow leaders not to make working people pay for crisis

30 April 2009

SP commends Spanish Premier as he urges fellow leaders not to make working people pay for crisis

Speaking in Strasbourg at a meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Premier Zapatero of Spain called on his fellow government leaders not to pass, for once, the costs of the crisis on to the poor and to working people. “Let the rich who caused this crisis also pay for it," said Zapatero, a message which the SP wholeheartedly endorses. "If we have learnt one thing," the Spanish Prime Minister said, "it's that it is in precisely these sort of times that we should not be cutting back on social security and public services, but should instead be investing more in them."

The Spanish Premier's remarks came in response to SP Senator Tiny Kox, chair of the European United Left (GUE) political group in PACE, who invited Zapatero, on the eve of May Day, to give his views on the crisis. Senator Kox suggested to Premier Zapatero that he call on all of Europe's politicians to bid farewell to market fundamentalism and neoliberalism and from now on to establish more democratic and more socialistic solutions for today's problems and tomorrow's society.

Tiny Kox Kox reminded the Spanish Premier that on May Day in Spain and many other countries, socialists and trade unions call on the workers of all countries to unite in the struggle for better conditions than neoliberal capitalism can offer. In response, Zapatero announced that he would be gladly participating in the demonstrations in his country, because it was for him not to be questioned that working people must play a leading role in ensuring that the poor should not be forced to pay the bill for the crisis. He lashed out at right-wing critics, saying that "I have no message for those who are demanding that I cut social security and public services while at the same time knocking at my door to beg money for their firms, whose problems are caused by their own behaviour." He went on to inform the assembled parliamentarians of the Council of Europe's forty-seven member states that his government had promised that there would be no cuts in social security, and announced that more would be invested to make up for the failure of the private sector to do so, calling on other government leaders to follow suit.

Senator Kox was extremely impressed by Zapatero's reaction to his call. "Here was a government leader speaking who has clearly learnt from the past and who is not willing to fall back on old solutions in this time of crisis. I am in complete agreement with him that we should be making every effort to ensure that the eventual winners in this crisis will not be the rich but ordinary people, who in the past have always had to pay the price. I advise our own prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende and his finance minister Wouter Bos, whose Labour Party is allied to the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, to familiarise themselves with the latter's proposals to combat and overcome the crisis. It would perhaps be of help in the Netherlands if we were to refrain from confronting present-day problems with out-of-date solutions. A number of recent measures taken in the Netherlands, such as the abolition of welfare benefits for people under twenty-seven, show that the Dutch government is a long way from adopting Premier Zapatero's analysis and remains inclined to lay the crisis at the door of those who had nothing to do with bringing it about. A completely wrong-headed approach, as Zapatero also noted in his impassioned speech. I congratulated him afterwards and said that I'd be glad to relay his message!"

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