Sarkozy bashes Spanish economy on campaign stumps

Socialists call on PP government to defend national pride

French President Nicolas Sarkozy once again on Sunday continued to portray Spain as Europe’s problem child, saying that if he is re-elected he will rein in France’s spending to avoid “the same difficulties” that Madrid is facing.

His comments, published in Le Jornal du Dimanche and repeated earlier this weekend during a campaign swing in Saint Raphael, have been received badly by Spanish politicians.

The Socialists have demanded that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy issue a public complaint against Sarkozy. Elena Valenciano, the Socialist Party number two, said the French leader should not be using Spain as “a bad example” to bolster his campaign.

In remarks to the French newspaper, Sarkozy said that he will “comply scrupulously” with reducing the deficit “because I am convinced that the French don’t want to share Greece’s luck or live through the difficulties occurring in Spain.” For its part, the Rajoy government has not commented on Sarkozy’s comparisons. Elvira Rodríguez, a Popular Party deputy, came out in defense of Sarkozy, saying that the French president was speaking as a candidate and not as a European leader.

François Hollande, Sarkozy’s Socialist opponent in the May 6 elections, came to Spain’s defense, asking for “European solidarity” so that the French president stop attacking the Spanish economy.

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