Zapatero: “You won’t hear me criticize Rajoy”

Socialist leader says he will never criticize his successor as former PP chief Aznar has done

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.EFE

Former Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero said Friday he would never dreaming of criticizing current conservative Popular Party Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in public.

Earlier this week during a televised interview, Rajoy’s predecessor as leader of the PP, José María Aznar, who stood down as prime minister ahead of general elections in March 2004 after two terms in office, called on the government to reverse tax hikes introduced by Rajoy and criticized the party’s lack of direction. He also dropped hints that would return to the political fray if need be.

“Criticism of Rajoy will not emerge from my mouth. The opinion of a former prime minister has repercussions,” Zapatero said in an interview with state radio RNE. “I have respect for Aznar and all former prime ministers. It’s up to the individual to decide what their role should be.”

After stepping down as the Socialists’ leader ahead of the November 2011 general elections, Zapatero has kept a very low public profile. During Friday’s interview, he eschewed commenting on the PP and his successor as Socialist leader, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, under whom the party a suffered heavy defeat in the 2011 election, throwing up questions about his leadership.

“My position is to keep the maximum silence possible,” Zapatero said. “Anything that is said here or abroad that in one way or another could harm Spain won’t come out of my mouth.” After Aznar’s comments, the PP spokesman in the Basque assembly, Borja Sémper, said Zapatero had “consolidated his position as the best ex-prime minister.”