PARTY POLITICS

Ruling PP barons called to order as they look to go their own way

Prime minister goes into first televised interview amid signs of rebellion in his own ranks

On top of the ongoing financial and economic crisis in Spain, and with support for the ruling Popular Party ebbing in the wake of a draconian austerity drive, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is also having to deal with a number of barons within the PP appearing to distance themselves from the official line.

Ahead of Rajoy’s first television interview on Monday night since taking office eight months ago, the secretary general of the PP and premier of the Castilla-La Mancha region, Dolores Cospedal, sought to restore order among the upper echelons of the party. De Cospedal had herself also appeared to go out on a limb last week by proposing that lawmakers in the Castilla-La Mancha parliament should forego their salaries.

Asked about Extremadura premier José Antonio Monago apparently exceeding his authority by not imposing the full hike in the value-added tax rate to 21 percent through a system of subsidies, De Cospedal said: “The PP keeps to the law in all of Spain.” The regions do not have the ability to set VAT rates.

De Cospedal also took issue with Madrid premier Esperanza Aguirre, who is considered to be something of a loose cannon within the PP, and who has called for a repeal of strict anti-smoking laws to accommodate the EuroVegas casino project in the region. “In no way has the PP proposed that the anti-smoking law should be changed,” De Cospedal told reporters.

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