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Socialists support Zapatero in election, shold he choose to run

Source: El Pais - Tue 1st Mar 2011

The state of uncertainty which currently exists within the Socialist party due to the 2012 elections is "not a fight," speaker of the Senate, Javier Rojo, told the press on yesterday. "There is a debate, but we need not be alarmed."

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has so far refused to confirm or deny whether he will run for a third term in 2012. With Spain's national elections on the horizon there are concerns that the uncertainty is a sign of weakness which may cause the Socialists to lose ground to the main opposition Popular Party, who have been gaining popularity over recent months.

Rojo confirmed his backing of Zapatero as "the best candidate" for re-election in 2012. "Despite difficulties," he said, Zapatero will be known as having introduced elements of modernization to Spain. He continued, "Above all, that man is progressive."

The leader of the PP opposition told reporters in January he is confident that will be running against current Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba next year. "Spain is thirsty for elections," Mariano Rajoy added.

Rojo praised Rubalcaba as having an "impressive career path," but remarked that he "could say the same" of Defence Minister Carme Chacón, "if it were truly a discussion of Zapatero's succession." Chacón suggested last week that she may be interested in competing in an eventual primary contest for the party's leadership.

Regional leaders interviewed by El Pais confirmed that, if should he choose to run again, Zapatero would find unanimous support within the party. If he should not, leaders said Socialist support would pass to his deputy.

Recent opinion polls show the Popular Party gaining support in Andalusia, a socialist stronghold for 30 years but whose position is now under threat ahead of May's regional elections. The polls report 47.5% of the population in favor of the PP, well above the 35% support reported for the Socialists in the region.

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