Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba may lose Sunday's elections but he wants to tell Brussels what it needs to do to help save the Spanish economy. In his last interview with EL PAÍS before Spaniards go to the polls, the Socialist Party prime-ministerial candidate believes that the European Commission must map out an investment strategy for debt-troubled nations like Spain, instead of just demanding that their governments apply more austerity measures.
The 60-year-old Rubalcaba said that cuts alone cannot get Spain's economy rolling; the nation needs investment. "If there is no investment, there is no growth. I am not saying that it is the Spanish government that has to put up the money. I am saying that there is something called Europe, which has another thing called the European Investment Bank. The EIB has 70 billion euros, which is by no means a small amount."
Rubalcaba isn't discouraged by the voters' polls, which show that his Popular Party (PP) opponent Mariano Rajoy could win by as much as 15 percentage points. "I am working hard to show that the polls are wrong. Polls are not infallible and we have had plenty of experiences in Spanish democracy where the polls have been mistaken."
What does alarm Rubalcaba, however, is the PP's coyness over what it plans to do for the Spanish economy. "You can't stand as a candidate for prime minister for a country that is in crisis, such as Spain, without saying what you are going to do," he said, adding that PP secretary general María Dolores de Cospedal made a revealing statement on Tuesday when she said that "when we do what we have to do, there are going to be people protesting who have never complained before."
"They effectively acknowledged that they know what they are going to do, but they are not saying it. That is intolerable," Rubalcaba said.
While he pledged not to lay off government workers, the Socialist contender admits that there has to be a downsizing of some government offices by not filling all the positions left empty by retiring employees. Nevertheless, the former interior minister said that there is a need for more personnel in certain areas, such as judges, prosecutors and scientific researchers.
Rubalcaba, who has also served as deputy prime minister, said that he realizes that many Socialists are angry with the way the current government has managed the crisis. "But I think that over the past few days people have come to better understandwhat we did."