Spanish leader calls for early elections

July 30, 2011 at 11:25 AM
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MADRID, July 30 (UPI) -- Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, bowing to pressure calling for his departure, has called for early elections to choose his successor.

Zapatero Friday said he decided to move the March 2012 elections to Nov. 20 so a new government "can take charge of all the economic decisions for 2012," The Wall Street Journal reported.

Spain is wracked by high unemployment and rising prices and Zapatero said the early elections could reduce the uncertainty surrounding Spanish politics at a dangerous time for the country's economy and finances.

Spain's financial woes have sparked fear of a debt crisis. The seriousness of the situation was underscored Friday when Moody's Investors Service warned it might downgrade Spain's credit rating for the second time this year.

Moody's cited Spain's challenge of cutting a budget deficit that is about 9 percent of its 2010 gross domestic product, partly caused from fallout from the debt crisis in Greece, the report said.

Spain is the euro zone's fourth-largest economy, but suffers from an unemployment rate of more than 20 percent, the highest rate in the developed world.

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