PM-elect Rajoy breaks silence, but reveals few policy clues

Popular Party leader says all Spaniards must help overcome the economic crisis; says key is making finance available for small businesses

Prime Minister-elect Mariano Rajoy of the Popular Party (PP) on Saturday briefly broke the silence he had maintained since his November 20 election triumph to offer three generic announcements about his economic policy.

"We have to control spending, not to live beyond our means and not spend what we don't have," he said after an event held with PP representatives in his home town of Pontevedra in the Galicia region.

By way of justification for his lack of a public profile since his historic win at the polls, the PP leader had this to say: "I haven't been able to stop. I've had to speak with a lot of people and to prepare plans for the near future."

He told Spaniards that they would have to play their own role in helping the country get out of the economic crisis. "To move forward is not just the task of the government, but of the whole nation," he said.

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Once again Rajoy refused to take questions from reporters. "This is not a political event, but more of a personal one," he pointed out.

"The party has always helped me in the province in difficult moments. I remember a dinner when I lost the elections in 2008. But now is not the time for dinners.

"What lies in store for Spain and other European countries is very difficult, but we are going to pull through."

Flanked by Galicia regional premier Alberto Núñez Feijóo, he alluded to the forthcoming European People's Party meeting in Marseille on Thursday. "I am going to talk personally with the most important European leaders to get to know our position."

But he cast little light on his government's plans. "We're working so that financial organizations, small and midsized businesses, the self-employed and families can get financing at reasonable prices to allow the economy to start growing and begin to generate employment.

"Things aren't going to be easy but we are clear in our ideas. We are going to try to speak to everybody, but we also have to take the decisions that we make quickly and with precision," he added. Rajoy also said that he was happy to be back where he first started out in politics: "I'm glad that my first public appearance after election night is here in Pontevedra, a city where I was very proud to be a councilor."

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