Spain’s Defence Minister resigns

Important Government changes in Spain.

Spanish president José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero called a surprise press conference this morning to announce important changes in his government caused by the sudden resignation of former Defence Minister, José Bono.

Zapatero has used the resignation to reshuffle his cabinet. Former Interior Minister (equivalent to Home Secretary), José Antonio Alonso, is to occupy the post of Defence Minister, and he will be replaced in the Interior Ministry by former government Spokesman, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba. Both Alonso and Rubalcaba are close friends and key party allies of the Spanish president.

Alfredo Perez RubalcabaAlfredo Perez Rubalcaba played a key role in negotiating the support of other political parties in Spanish congress needed by PSOE party in order to form a Socialist government.

He has also been a key negotiator in the talks and debate leading up to the Catalan Statute. His immediate task now is to lead the negotiations with ETA and play a key role in the possible peace process resulting from the permanent ceasefire announced by the Basque terrorist group last month.

In the press conference this morning, Zapatero said that José Bono had decided to resign for personal reasons, but that this would not be the end of his political career. It is rumoured that José Bono, one of Spain’s most popular (and loudest) politicians, may be chosen by his party to fight the regional elections in Madrid which has been in the hands of the Popular Party for the last 16 years.

The other person to leave the cabinet, also on her own request according to Rodriguez Zapatero, is the Education Minister, María Jesús San Segundo who has never really managed to make her mark on the political scene over the past two years and has preferred to adopt a very low profile despite Education reform being one of the key policies of the present government. She will be substituted in her post by Mercedes Cabrera Calvo-Sotelo, former profesor of the Complutense University in Madrid and current Chair of the Education Reform Parliamentary Committee.