Ignoring protests, PM vows to keep up reforms

Rajoy: "We are conscious of what people are going through"

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy made no mention of the weekend's new mobilization of the 15-M movement in a speech to Popular Party (PP) members on Sunday and vowed to carry on "acting with determination and courage" to take the decisions necessary to take Spain out of the crisis.

With the shouts of 50 15-M protestors demanding an alternative politics echoing outside his party's 13th Basque Congress in Bilbao, the PP leader made it clear to both those on the street and to an increasingly aggressive opposition that he made his decisions with the backing of the absolute majority won at last November's elections: "Fortunately, the Spanish people have taken their decision and has told the government to govern."

"This country is going to get out [of the crisis] if the government continues making reforms and doesn't tire of making them and the government is not going to tire," he continued. To set up those reforms, he said, he would go on taking decisions "every Friday."

Rajoy's message echoed the one given at the Madrid PP Congress on April 29, two days after announcing a rise in VAT and with protests in 55 cities against cutbacks. "Every Friday, reforms; and the one after that as well," he said in reference to weekly Cabinet meetings.

Nevertheless, Rajoy made an effort to avoid charges of insensitivity: "We are absolutely conscious of the situation that millions of Spaniards are going through. We know perfectly what they are going through." Rather than resort to statistics, he preferred to quote the many letters he has received at Moncloa as sources. The prime minister also recognized that his government was taking decisions it said it would not take and that it would have liked not to have taken, but he repeated that there was no other choice.

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