Home > News > World
Friday January 17, 2014 MYT 2:40:02 AM
Friday January 17, 2014 MYT 2:41:10 AM
by elisabeth o'leary
MADRID (Reuters) - Rebels from Spain's ruling conservative People's Party launched a new political party on Thursday, hoping to tap into public discontent over sky-high unemployment, graft scandals and surging separatism in Catalonia.
Leaders of the new party, named Vox (voice in Latin), accuse Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of being too soft on Catalan and Basque separatism and of breaking election promises by, for example, raising taxes.
"Millions of Spaniards ... feel abandoned by the political system, which is infested with corruption scandals and at the beck and call of private interests," Santiago Abascal, a former PP member on the Vox executive committee, told reporters.
An opinion poll last weekend showed that half way through Rajoy's term the PP has lost its lead to the opposition Socialists in the wake of austerity measures and Rajoy's plan to restrict abortion. It is the second time the Socialists have inched ahead since they lost a general election in late 2011.
Voters from across the political spectrum, disillusioned by corruption scandals, have increasingly turned to smaller parties such as the centrist Union for Progress and Democracy (UPyD).
PP leaders are particularly worried about the growth of a rival conservative party in Catalonia, Ciudadans.
Polls also show that after unemployment - which stands at 26 percent - corruption is Spaniards' main worry.
A former PP treasurer, Luis Barcenas, is in jail and could face trial on corruption charges after he was found to have stashed as much as 48 million euros in a Swiss bank account.
Barcenas has testified that he ran a slushfund for the PP, fed by cash donations from business executives.
Vox pledged to be more active than Rajoy in defending Spanish national unity, saying in their new party programme that they would restore central power while "respecting Spain's cultural diversity".
The programme calls for a rewriting of Spain's constitution to scrap regional autonomy and regional parliaments, a move sure to meet fierce resistance from the Catalans and others.
The formation of Vox was announced on the same day that Catalan lawmakers defied Rajoy with a vote to seek a referendum on breaking away from Spain.
Vox said it would hold primaries to select candidates to contest European parliamentary elections due in May.
Founder Vox members include Jose Antonio Ortega Lara, who was kidnapped by Basque separatists ETA and held in a 4.5 square metre underground den for almost 18 months in 1996 as part of the group's campaign for an independent Basque nation.
(Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Gareth Jones)
Spanish police raid ruling party HQ in graft probe
Poland's ruling party closes gap on conservative opposition
Spanish police raid ruling party headquarters in graft probe
Rebel governors leave Nigerian ruling party for opposition
Analysis - Rajoy sits out corruption storm within Spanish ruling party
Civilian deaths in Afghanistan war reach new high in 2014 - U.N.
U.N. chief praises Ebola nurses, pledges support during visit
Obama vows U.S. response to North Korea over Sony cyberattack
Obama to block exports of goods, technology, services to Crimea
Ladies, time to stand up and fight for your man
Looking out for your ears
Cook out, Morgan in as England ODI captain - reports
Airbnb in Amsterdam tourist tax deal, first in Europe
Moscow hotel goes halal in bid to woo Muslim visitors
Copyright © 1995-2014 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)