Spanish PM lays into his attacker

The Spanish Prime Minister, Felipe Gonzalez, crossed swords in parliament yesterday with his conservative opponent, Jose Maria Aznar, but left little doubt he intends to stay the course.

During a heated debate about the performance of the government which ends today, Mr Gonzalez showed he had lost none of his legendary parliamentary skill. As he came again and again to the podium to counter criticism from the right and left, his ability to dominate the Chamber of Deputies went some way to explain why, despite the scandals that have ravaged the government, his party is still in power after 12 years.

In the first minutes of a confident opening speech, Mr Gonzalez addressed the most pressing issue: he rejected any government involvement in the operations of the Gal anti-terrorist group, saying anti-Eta death-squads had been in action in 1975, well before the Socialists came to power, and had been wound up in 1986 during a Socialist government. "The government has not been nor will be implicated in illegal operations ... we have always worked for the forces of state security to use legal methods, and anyone who says the contrary is lying."

He said the opposition was, for party reasons, using the Gal affair as an underhand way of challenging the government's legitimacy. In a first flash of passion he turned on Mr Aznar's Popular Party: "They haven't forgiven us for winning the elections [of1993]."

Replying, Mr Aznar addressed his remarks personally to Mr Gonzalez, who, he said, "confuses parliamentary majority with political stability". Spain was sick of a parliamentary majority that served only to keep Felipe Gonzalez in power and not to govern the country. Gal was the latest and biggest of a string of scandals to afflict the government in recent years.

Mr Aznar accused Mr Gonzalez: "You don't inspire confidence; you have lost credibility." Mr Aznar is often an awkward public performer but he was relaxed and raised a laugh when he said: "I am not in a hurry ... the worst thing that can happen is that I inherit your legacy."

Sparks flew when Mr Gonzalez sprang up to counter Mr Aznar: "I may have lost credibility after 12 years ... but you ... have not succeeded in gaining credibility." Mr Aznar in his speech had offered nothing positive: "People want to know what the PP will

do."

There followed a series of stand-up exchanges between the two men. Mr Gonzalez scorned Mr Aznar for suggesting Spaniards were sick of parliamentary majority. "Parliamentary majority is the most serious element of a parliamentary democracy." The opposition, he said, called for early elections not for the benefit of the people but because they thought they would win.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower