Last Saturday the Spanish President, José Luis Zapatero, announced that he would not be standing for a third term. Zapatero made the announcement at a meeting with PSOE’s Federal Exceutive Committee. Zapatero explained his decision saying that he wanted to leave sufficient time for his predecessor, who will be elected in July, to reinforce his or her position and to be able to offer a Spaniards a well thought out programme in the general elections due to be held next year. He also added that it had been a personal decision and one that he had considered carefully.
In his speech to the party faithful Zapatero said that he wanted his announcement to produce three effects. Firstly he wanted to make it clear that the current legislature would be completed and that he was going to dedicate the rest of his time in office to the tasks of government. Secondly he said that it would allow him to concentrate on ending the economic crisis in Spain. Lastly he said that his announcement is intended to end the speculation over his future in government and therefore offset any affects this could have on the campaign for the local elections in May this year.
In an editorial published yesterday, the Financial Times applauded Zapatero’s decision not to seek a third term. The paper said that while the Spanish prime minister should be given credit for ‘courageous deficit-cutting and structural reform’, the announcement was a wise move as it meant that he would have nothing to lose as he continues the reforms he has started which although unpopular in Spain are seen as crucial to the country’s economic revival.