Don't mention the 'rescue' to Spain's leaders
(MADRID) - Right up until the end, Spain's leaders denied distressed banks had any need of a rescue.
Even after Madrid agreed with its eurozone partners on a lifeline of up to 100 billion euros ($125 billion), the government insisted the vast loan was not a 'rescue'.
Now the criticism is mounting of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who declared Sunday he was heading off to Poland to watch the football, with Spain facing Italy in the Euro 2012 contest.
"If this situation had not be resolved, I would not be going," he assured reporters.
After being reprimanded by some media for not addressing the nation on Saturday, Rajoy faced the press Sunday to defend his record handling one of the nation's greatest crises since the Franco era.
"I am very satisfied, I think we have taken a very decisive step," Rajoy said.
"Yesterday, the credibility of the euro won, its future, and the European Union," the prime minister argued.
"It was not easy," he conceded.
"Nobody pressured me and I don't know if I should say this, but it was I who pressured for a line of credit," said Rajoy.
Socialist opposition leader, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, had a wry retort: "The government is trying to make us believe we have won the lottery."
The eurozone debt crisis has now snared the bloc's fourth-biggest economy -- Spain's is twice the combined size of those of Greece, Ireland and Portugal, the countries bailed out so far.
"This has nothing to do with a rescue," said Economy Minister Luis de Guindos after the deal, insisting it was just a loan with conditions on banks, not the broader economy.
Rajoy, too, declined to use the word.
Less than a fortnight earlier, he had flatly denied the country would take such a step.
"There will be no rescue of the Spanish banks," he said.
"Rescue", however, was the word splashed over the front pages in Spain and around the world.
"If the news is bad in itself, the government's poor communication helped to make it look a bit worse," said conservative daily El Mundo.
"Just over a week ago, Rajoy said emphatically that Spain does not need this aid. And just hours before announcing it, the government carried on denying," the paper said.
Rajoy's failure to appear Saturday also provoked widespread criticism, including on social media sites.
"Rajoy keeps his promises! He promised us transparency and it is impossible to see him," said one Twitter message posted with the tag #Rajoycobarde (Rajoy coward).
"Rajoy hides and burns up his political capital," said centre-left daily El Pais, adding that his government was battling against the word "rescue" and scrambling for euphemisms.
Swept to power in a landslide in November 11 elections that overthrew seven years of Socialist rule, Rajoy is now facing a question of credibility, some analysts said.
"Mariano Rajoy and his government failed at a decisive moment," said Anton Losada, politics professor at the University of Santiago de Compostela, predicting a difficult future.
"I think it will be absolutely impossible for them to complete their mandate because the 100 billion euros have to be repaid and the banks are not going to start making money tomorrow," he added.
"At a critical moment in the construction of Europe, Spain, one of the countries with the strongest European character, is becoming a completely insignificant country."
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