POLITICS

Felipe González met with Rajoy the same day Aznar panned the prime minister

There is no need for former PP premier to “save the country,” says ex-Socialist leader

Former Socialist Prime Minister Felipe González met with Mariano Rajoy the same day last week that ex-premier José María Aznar criticized his successor as head of the ruling Popular Party in a televised interview.

During the interview, Aznar, who led the PP and served two mandates as prime minister before standing down in favor of Rajoy before the March 2004 elections, panned the government’s lack of direction and called for tax cuts. He also hinted that he might return to the political fray.

Speaking in Paris where he was attending a seminar on Tuesday, González declined to confirm a report by Spanish daily Abc of the meeting with Rajoy. However, the prime minister’s office later confirmed the encounter had taken place. “It’s not up to me to confirm this meeting, but I will say that whatever the color of the political banner, I am open to helping out,” said González, who is Spain’s longest-serving prime minister since the restoration of democracy.

González responded in a jocund tone to the idea of the possible return of Aznar to the political arena. “If he wants to come back then let him come back. If he believes he needs to come back, then let him. However, what I feel uncomfortable about is that he feels obliged to come back to save the country.”

“I won’t comment on Aznar’s attitude,” González continued. “You can disagree with the government, and I disagree with a lot of policies in Spain and Europe. But you can also be willing to cooperate and help out with what the country needs.”

In further reference to Aznar, González said : “I put forward the idea of a large Chinese vase in a small apartment,” the former Socialist leader said. “You can attribute value to it, but it gets in the way.”

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