Speech by acting President of the Government during Investiture Debate for the Presidency of the Government in Lower House of Parliament


Lower House of Parliament, Madrid

Madam Speaker, Honourable Members of Parliament.

Five days before the deadline set by law for Parliament to be automatically dissolved, I once again appear before this house to request its confidence in my investiture as President of the Government.

I have accept the commission from His Majesty the King for the same reasons as I set out when I appeared here before you back in August; the first and foremost of which is that Spain urgently needs a government.

I address you from the shared conviction that Spain cannot allow any further delays. I am not exaggerating one iota when I say that our political instability has become, in the eyes of any observer, the greatest threat to our economy. At present, our efforts to put the crisis behind us are praised, our reform to return our competitiveness is valued and the efforts in our fight against unemployment are acknowledged. This has all been acknowledged by everyone everywhere, but next we are warned that the clouds that darken our bright horizon are political uncertainty and institutional paralysis.

Fortunately, the inertia of work well done has allowed Spain to cross the barren wasteland of these last few months without falling by the wayside.

Spain, I repeat, however much this may surprise some people, continues to be the country to enjoy the fastest rate of growth of the major developed economies. It was last year, it will be this year and all the forecasts point to the fact that the same will hold true for next year. We are growing at double the rate of the Eurozone average and, thanks to this growth, we are also the country that has created the most jobs: in this unstable year half a million people will find a job.

But everything has a limit, Honourable Members. Fortunately, my government had the foresight in the autumn of 2015 to approve the General State Budget for this year. We were thus able to maintain the benefits, subsidies and investments which clearly allowed us to continue down the path of growth and maintain our social care during this time. This decision was the right one to take despite the torrent of criticism that it received. In Spain, we are used to considering that those measures that some outrightly reject as undesirable are precisely those that most benefit the people of Spain.

Nor has this government skimped in its efforts over the last 10 months to make the most of the limited scope of action permitted by law to avoid damage and minimise the harm that our caretaker status could have caused to the Spanish people.

As you are aware, we have obtained a path of fiscal consolidation from the European Commission that is more compatible with our economic growth. In the wake of fruitful dialogue with this House, we have been able to take the necessary steps to meet the deficit target committed to this year. After a frank understanding with the regional governments and the parliamentary groups, we have guaranteed that, regardless of what may happen, the regional governments and local authorities were able to see their deficit and debt targets renewed in order to approve their accounts and maintain the essential services that they all manage.

Aside from that, and I proudly acknowledge this, in these months of limited governance, we have been able to observe that Spain is a mature democracy that is able to continue operating, provided that the responsibilities of government were previously attended to, as has indeed been the case. From our security forces to our social organisations, from healthcare to the unemployment office, from the judicature to the municipal authorities, Spain has at no time been an "acting" country.

In short, Honourable Members, Spain has thus far maintained its course, but, as I said, everything has its limits. The very cornerstone of our prosperity is at stake: confidence, this major ingredient in human relations, whether personal, political, commercial or diplomatic, on which the course of our recovery depends.

We have accumulated a good degree of confidence and this is felt both within and beyond our borders. Both the people of Spain and foreigners now trust more in the possibilities of our country and, since they are more confident, they spend more and invest more. Spain is trustworthy and that translates into the interest paid when servicing our debt and the credit we are granted despite our deficit.

Confidence, Honourable Members, is hard won and easily lost. Under no circumstance must we run the risk of straying off course and allow the titanic efforts made by the people of Spain to become a universally acknowledged success story to be wasted.

Our citizens are thus entitled, which is our duty, to demand that we, their representatives, those responsible for their well-being, do not spoil the fruits of their efforts. Spain cannot afford further delays and uncertainties.

My goal today, Honourable Members, is for us to take a step away from any fear of instability and assert that Spain has a government that can govern, that maintains its predictable course and hastens to clear away any last shred of uncertainty that, like a weed, has sprung up in recent months.

Honourable Members,

That is the most important reason why I have accepted the commission from his Majesty the King, but it is not the only one.

The Spanish people have shown, on two occasions, in December and in June, their clear preference for the People's Party.

I don't intend to remind you of what you are already well aware, nor blazon here the results of the last elections, or indeed make a great display of them; but it seems reasonable to me that, in a consolidated democracy such as ours, the political formation that has the greatest support from its citizens should govern. And this seems even more reasonable when, as is the case here, the margin over the second leading political force exceeds 2.5 million votes.

Honourable Members,

This assertion is as clear as the substantiating fact that in Spain, since 1977, the political force that has had the greatest support from its citizens has governed.

And, should this not be enough for some, we should add the fact that right now, the alternative my group proposes is the only reasonable option to govern at present, as has been seen with the passing of time.

Honourable Members,

I won't go into more detail on these reasons, because it's not necessary, and because not long has gone by since you heard me outline them here and because nothing has changed since then in my arguments; but allow me in today's speech to add two more, very powerful, reasons to these considerations, which reaffirm the decision I took back when I submitted my candidature to the Presidency of the Government to this House.

The first is that, as everyone knows, in the two months that have elapsed since the last investiture session, certain very significant changes have taken place that improve the political situation and open up the possibility of this debate ending up differently to the previous one. It is not down to me, and hence I won't do this, to evaluate the reasons behind or the finer points of these changes, but I would acknowledge that we now have new circumstances that inspire a certain expectation that Spain may shortly have a fully functioning government.

My last reason for appearing here today is that we are not only saying "yes" or "no" to a proposed government. We are saying "yes" or "no" to elections that cannot be postponed. The days and opportunities are running out and leave us today with the dilemma of having to exclusively and definitively choose between offering the Spanish people a government and asking them to go back to the ballot box for the third time in little more than 360 days.

I advocate - and my presence in this House is evidence of this - avoiding going back to the ballot box at all costs, and advocate this from the conviction that this is the best thing for Spain and for the Spanish people. A third round of elections would be, as almost all of you have acknowledged, very harmful for our country; it would discredit the image of Spain abroad, it would be a disappointment to our citizens and for their trust in our political system; and this would be very harmful, in short, for the economy, which would be prejudiced by the extension to the uncertainty. This would cause objective harm, however you view it, to Spain and to the Spanish people.

Honourable Members,

I don't even want to go into considerations as to what would be more interesting or more prejudicial to the individual interests of the different parties represented in this House. We are all well aware, all of us, of the situation. It would be frivolous for individual interests to be the priority today. We are talking about Spain and a repetition of the elections is not what the Spanish people want, nor is it what would most benefit them.

So, Honourable Members, these are the reasons I am here today to ask for your confidence.

Spain needs a government, as the rest of the countries in the world. We cannot operate for ever as a caretaker government, nor can we hold fresh elections every six months. That is not a normal situation. It is not helpful for anyone and it ends up harming the rights and interests of everyone.

Honourable Members of Parliament,

Spain needs a government, but not any old government. On 30 August, I made the following statement to all of you, "We would be kidding ourselves, and worst still, kidding the Spanish people, if we allowed them to believe that it is enough to choose any old government, of any inclination, to do the job or, as some would say, to unblock the stalemate. What Spain obviously needs is a government that can govern, that effectively deals with problems, and this requires a government that is stable, lasting, robust and reassuring".

That is the same criterion as the Honourable Members have heard me advocate since 21 December: a stable government that is capable of governing and of inspiring confidence; a reliable and predictable government.

And also, as I said in August, "a government based on agreements, because that is what the election results dictate and because we are facing challenges that no other political party can resolve by itself. This, when you do not have a parliamentary majority, requires either a coalition government or at least some form of agreement that avoids an impotent legislature".

That is the proposal that I have been making time after time - I repeat, time after time - since back in December; my opinion hasn't changed. I have been talking since December about a government with a broad parliamentary base, which is capable of undertaking, by consensus and with a vocation to remain in power, the major reforms that Spain needs. That is, at least in my opinion, the best way to interpret the will of the Spanish people as expressed through their votes and the best way to attend to their needs; an unprecedented model of government in Spain, but similar to the model that governs in the EU institutions and that has been operating in many countries in the European Union for many years.

Honourable Members,

Back on 30 August, I once again proposed, as you will recall, a broad coalition of pro-Constitution forces, that could have been formed in various manners, either by a coalition, or by a broad agreement for the duration of the legislature or through a commitment to governability.

However, as you all know, that was not possible, but at least we managed to take certain steps in the right direction. After 26 June, we managed to reach an agreement with certain commitments to govern with Ciudadanos, which you are aware of and which Mr Rivera and I set out in that session at the end of August. These are commitments to govern on many of the questions that are of greatest importance to the Spanish people and which we are sure will be beneficial to everyone once they are implemented.

In addition to these agreements, we have to add others, such as those agreed with Ms Oramas and her party, Coalición Canaria, also following the elections on 26 June, as well as those agreed prior to the elections with Unión del Pueblo Navarro, Foro Asturias and Partido Aragonés. I would reiterate my gratitude to all of these parties, and to my group as well. In all honesty I think that, as I said back then, they are doing what is best for the people of Spain.

These are agreements with a clear political meaning and represent progress down the path towards the main goal needed by Spain at this time: a government that can govern, in other words, that effectively attends to problems and can respond to the commitments it has taken on.

I am very well aware of the importance of these agreements and it is my intention to maintain them and uphold them. And do not doubt that I will do just that.

Honourable Members,

In terms of outlining the government programme that I offer for your consideration, I will save you the burden of having to listen to each word I spoke on this matter on 30 August during the previous investiture session. To that end, it seems to be more reasonable to refer to the Book of Sessions which contains, in a detailed manner, the speech that you heard, which also includes the measures agreed with the other parties and parliamentary groups that support this investiture, and particularly the "150 commitments to improve Spain" that we agreed with Ciudadanos.

Today I would only like to remind you that our political project contains two basic goals, which, moreover, are inseparable: employment and maintaining the pillars of our Welfare State.

No-one should now doubt that job creation is the ultimate goal of all our economic policies and the necessary pre-requisite for any social policy. Employment has always been my main concern and my top priority.

When I took on the responsibilities as President of the Government for the first time, at the end of 2011, 1,400 jobs were being shed every day; now, more than 1.400 people find a job every day. Quite simply, Honourable Members, the situation has been turned around for the better; this trend has been completely reversed. From being the European Union country where most jobs were being shed, we now head up the job creation table in the Eurozone.

We have reversed this trend, but we must not abandon our goal, because there is still a lot of work ahead of us. There are still too many people in Spain looking for a job opportunity. Now, to the extent that the situation is improving, they are more hopeful of finding work. This hope is what dictates the requirements of our main duty.

I repeat, Honourable Members, employment is the goal of our economic policy, but it is also an essential requirement in order to maintain and improve our Welfare State which - as I would remind this House - is one of the most advanced in the world.

Just remember that there are more than 14 million people in Spain - I repeat, more than 14 million people - who receive, at the end of each month, some form of public benefit by way of a pension, long-term care, unemployment benefit, minimum income, etc. In addition, almost a quarter of our public spending goes on healthcare and public education. That is why it comes as no surprise that 63% of our total public spending is social spending.

So, Honourable Members, without employment, it is a pipe dream to try to attend to these needs, however good one's intentions may be, and we obviously have good intentions…; because it is those people who work, who make their National Insurance contributions and pay their taxes who maintain and allow our welfare system to improve.

That is why it is so important to prioritise job creation and, as you know, this great goal not only depends on us applying good employment policies; it fundamentally depends on us finding a way to maintain economic growth and bed down the recovery. Accordingly, it depends on us persevering with the economic policy that has allowed us to change our course and not go back on those reforms that have led us to create half a million jobs a year.

Honourable Members of Parliament,

The main goal is thus to create jobs; but in Spain there are still many problems to deal with and we can do this in a much more effective manner if we are able to share these priorities. I would invite you, henceforth, to tackle some matters together that imperatively demand the consensus of everyone since they directly affect the general interest of the Spanish people.

It is essential for us to reach an agreement on what we need to do to reach understandings on the main State affairs. I am talking about the major issues whose validity greatly exceeds one period of sessions or a legislature, and which mark the life of a country for generations.

We have an opportunity ahead of us to provide a shared and stable solution to major challenges, such as that posed by the ageing of our population, the future of our young people, managing migration, full equality between men and women, including reconciliation of work and home life and the eradication of any form of violence against women, climate change and the incorporation of new scientific and technological changes.

The first of the State issues relates to the sustainability of our public pension system. I don't have to say that its guarantee particularly depends on us being able to move towards the primordial target of 20 million people in work by the year 2020 and leave behind us this period when for every new pensioner three workers were made unemployed. Today, every new pensioner is offset by six new workers paying in to the system.

All of the groups in this Parliament, all of them, have expressed their concern at the pension system. I propose to them that we make this common concern a framework for dialogue to strengthen the system, with the aim of reassuring both our present and our future pensioners. That is why I announced to you that if I obtain your confidence in this investiture, I will ask the parliamentary groups to immediately call the Toledo Pact to meet before the end of the year.

I also propose to shake up and boost social dialogue. In recent years, my government has reached some important agreements with the social stakeholders to help boost economic growth and job creation. Their participation continues to be a key element for driving the recovery of our economy. That is why, if this House places its confidence in me, I will immediately call the social stakeholders to share our analysis on the economic and social situation, and to tackle new measures to boost the creation of quality jobs, assistance for the long-term unemployed, the implementation of the Youth Guarantee, together with sustainability, within the framework of the Toledo Pact, of our public pension system.

And I can say the same about our education model, from primary education through to university. A new opportunity opens up before us to definitively achieve a National Education Pact. I invite you to constructively work towards a stable model that attends to the needs of each one of our pupils, guarantees equal opportunities but which, above all, emphasises efficacy and quality.

With these aims in mind, in the first month of government, as we agreed with Ciudadanos, I will propose to this House the creation of a parliamentary sub-committee to draw up a consensual agreement within the period of six months; an agreement that must also include the consensus and collaboration of the education community and must tackle the following questions, among others: a statute on teaching staff; strengthening the system of governance in our universities; an educational support programme to combat the school drop-out rate and to boost vocational training, such that 100,000 pupils can gain access to the system of dual vocational training which is showing such positive results.

We also need to reach an agreement on regional financing. Education, healthcare, long-term care and other social services provided by the regional governments are, together with pensions, the bases for our social policy. Our citizens increasingly demand an optimum level of quality in our basic public services which we can receive under equal conditions.

That is why I suggest to all the groups in this House, and particularly to the Socialist Party which, similarly to the People's Party, governs in a good many autonomous regions, that we commence negotiations on a system of stable and sufficient regional financing; a model that guarantees equality and solidarity among all Spanish people, and preserves the public contingency services such as electoral cycles, boom periods and periods of economic recession.

Clearly, this reflection cannot be made behind the backs of, or on the sidelines of, those public authorities that are directly involved. That is why my government will immediately tackle the preparatory work on calling a Conference of Regional Presidents in the Upper House. This forum will need to provide a shared diagnosis of the situation of our regional model and its financial sufficiency, as well as an update of the principles of solidarity and cooperation that have marked its development to date.

Honourable Members,

The commitment to cleaning up public life and the smooth functioning of our institutions affects all of us present here today. At present, our citizens can undoubtedly observe that corruption does not go unpunished in Spain. I will not bore you with listing the raft of legislative improvements approved by my government in this field. These instruments are making the prevention of criminal offences and the work of the judiciary more effective but, as you will have heard me say on more than one occasion, we can never feel fully satisfied in this task and even less, feel that our work is done.

I have always been open to promoting such reforms as may be necessary to help strengthen the trust of our citizens in politicians and in making politics an activity that is increasingly transparent and exemplary. As you are aware, we agreed a raft of measures with Ciudadanos on the fight against corruption which I proposed to them in the debate back in August. The commitment made back then remains valid now, as my offer to the rest of the groups also remains valid, so that we can enrich the agreement through their contributions. I make this invitation from a position of humility and in acknowledgement of the cases in which people from my party have played a leading role, but also from the certainty that in this field, as in any other walk of life, no-one can claim to be infallible.

Honourable Members,

I am aware that none of these agreements will be easy. They will require a great effort, no less than the dimension of the task at hand, nor less than their importance for the well-being of the Spanish people.

Fortunately, we are not starting from scratch, Honourable Members. We have the experience in Spain of having been able to reach understandings on issues and at exceptional moments for our own democratic architecture, in our membership and commitment to the European Union, in the defence of our system of rights and liberties and in the fight against Jihadi terrorism.

Now is the time to strengthen those agreements that already exist and, having reached this point, allow me to pause to analyse in greater detail the most serious challenge that Spain faces at this time and which affects our unity, our national sovereignty and the equality of all Spaniards. I refer to the breakaway challenge that some are proposing in Catalonia.

My position is well known. I set it out clearly in the debate on 30 August. I would just remind you of some of the things that I said back then and that I will always defend:

- The only sovereign people in Spain are those made up of all of the Spanish people.

- No-one, not the government, Parliament or any other State power, nobody, can deprive the Spanish people of their exclusive right - I repeat, exclusive right - to decide on their future or on their territory.

- My primary obligation as the representative - as indeed is the case for all of you Honourable Members - of the Spanish people and as the President of the Government, if I obtain the confidence of this House, is to defend this national sovereignty and through that, the unity of Spain, the equality of the Spanish people and respect for the law and for fundamental rights.

And I can assure you, Honourable Members, that I will meet this obligation and I will do so at all times by seeking an understanding among the groups that agree to defend the principles contained in the Constitution.

Over the course of these years I have maintained, and continue to maintain, my interest in dialogue and cooperation with the Regional Government of Catalonia. I have tried to provide a response to the real needs of the Catalan people, because what affects them affects me and is important to me. I have always highly valued their ability to welcome, their dynamism and their diversity as an element that forms and enriches ours. And I am willing to search for formulas that better accommodate the necessary solidarity between regions. But the first step towards solutions that are fairest involves respecting the law and the rights of all the people of Spain.

Honourable Members of Parliament,

There is no time to lose, we have challenges ahead, many of them, and, moreover, we must overcome the effects of the political stalemate of recent months and get up-to-date as soon as possible in meeting our commitments to the Spanish people and to our European partners.

Those issues which were not urgent have ended up being pressing and those that were already urgent, are more so now. That is why, in the coming days, if you grant me your vote of confidence, we will submit the budget stability and public debt targets to both houses, together with the ceiling on non-financial State expenditure. These matters will also require our agreement, and the budgetary cycle does not end there. We must complete the full approval of the General State Budget for 2017.

I do not need to explain to you that the State accounts are a key element in the economic policy of our country and of others; firstly, because they ultimately determine the destination of 43% of the wealth we are capable of generating each year among us all - of the Gross Domestic Product; secondly because they sum up, in figures, the direction of the economic policy that ensures our growth and job creation.

Nor do I need to explain to you that it is my obligation to oversee compliance with the commitments we have taken on with Europe, respect the fiscal consolidation path agreed with the European Union and control the public deficit, because that is for the good of Spain and because we are already aware of the worst of its consequences, if we pay no heed, in terms of loss of confidence and the shedding of jobs. Budget stability must remain a commitment that is respected by the government and not ignored by Parliament.

Honourable Members,

In my opinion, these are issues on which we would be able to take a very significant step towards defending the interests of all the people of Spain, if indeed we are able to find a way to work together.

As you will have observed, I have not tried to set out a detailed government programme in this speech or an extensive list of measures. At any event, I am prepared to go into detail tomorrow on any sectoral or regional issue that you may have questions for me about. Today I wanted to mention the main national goals, those that are pressing and those to be taken in the future because, as I mentioned earlier, it is essential that we agree on how to tackle them together. I repeat that, moreover, this covers issues that in some cases do not only extend over one period of sessions but also exceed the capacity of any individual government, and that are decisive for the future of a country for generations to come.

Madam Speaker, Honourable Members of Parliament,

I am perfectly aware that we are entering a new political era. I know that any law, any reform and any project that may be presented to this House in the future will have to be the result of a prior agreement, of negotiations, of give-and-take and of an understanding.

We must take on the need for dialogue, not as a difficult hurdle, but rather as an opportunity to consolidate broad and lasting reforms and leave to one side the slogans of the electoral battle to move towards designing solutions to the problems of our compatriots.

I am not blind, nor is my party, to the difficulties and the foreseeable pitfalls that this task brings with it. We are also aware of the serious commitment we are taking on, but I have not taken the floor here for any personal or party gain, but to meet my responsibility as I see it.

Perhaps some of you may think that the difficulties in governing and the outlook for improving our position in a fresh round of elections may cause us to shirk our responsibility, but we are not going to do that. At this time, in the circumstances Spain is in, no consideration on party benefits seems right to me.

The Spanish people did not vote for us to carry out politics on a small-scale, but rather to use this power in the best possible manner in their service, that is, to carry out what we promised and what our citizens trusted we would be capable of doing.

That is what we are here for. The People's Party is not an end but a means, a tool at the service of society. If I asked the Spanish people today what they wanted to do with this tool, this response would undoubtedly be transparent, "We want to use this instrument to form a government now without any further delays".

That - this wish for a government now - is all that I need to know and is exactly what I am trying to do. I have the power to bring this situation to an end, to avoid a fresh round of elections, and I have done this as soon as I have seen that the circumstances have changed.

Honourable Members,

This is my duty, but not only mine; I share this with all of you. It seems fair and reasonable that those who truly do not wish to see the elections repeated will support this situation. That does not mean that we are forcing anyone to do what they don't want to do, or that anyone has to renounce their principles. The exceptional circumstances require that all ideological confrontations are put to one side and that we unite our efforts, on an exceptional basis, because this is an unprecedented situation we are in at this time. And, if we hadn't done that, this investiture session would never have been held or it would have failed and we would all be obliged to hold fresh elections.

Honourable Members,

If this investiture session prospers, we must open a new era of responsible contribution which everyone plays a part in and which needs the collaboration of one and all. What we have before us is something very serious, because the consequences of our decisions affect the well-being of everyone; this will also dictate the image of Spain around the world and these decisions will be decisive for the destiny of the whole nation.

We are talking about the common good and, to avoid imprecise statements, allow me to spell this out for you: today, these days, this month, the common good means that Spain meets its commitments with Europe as soon as possible in order to maintain, as part of that, the position that the Spanish people deserve. And this is all in order to better deal with our commitments to our citizens, specifically the most urgent commitments, those that are the basis for everything else, because they are the foundations and guarantees: economic growth and job creation. That is what "the common good" means today, the general interests; taking those steps that Spain urgently clamours for in order to give a decisive boost to the path of recovery and leave the consequences of the time we have lost behind us.

That is a shared responsibility, Honourable Members. It would be hard to understand someone wanting to turn their back on this or, worse still, hampering this process.

I clearly appreciate, given the composition of the House and the foreseeable support, that the government I seek to form may be far from achieving the conditions of strength, governability and stability that I called for at the last investiture debate and back on 21 December. That will be the case unless this House and the groups that comprise it take on the idea that, not only the general interests of the Spanish people, but also their own interests, require a stable and capable government.

Honourable Members,

The non-existence of pacts for this legislature does not mean that we should be content with a government in which the whys and the wherefores are of no consideration. We would be doing the Spanish people no favours by having them believe that the mere formation of a government is sufficient to resolve everything.

The Government of the Kingdom of Spain cannot be a mere formality. It must be able to resolve the problems of the Spanish people. I imagine that we all want a government for our country that can inspire confidence, that is reliable and that has the capability of taking decisions at the speed required by the circumstances, both in Spain and in Europe. I imagine no-one here wants to see the opposite.

Spain will not benefit from surprises, improvisations or uncertainty. If we can't find a way to clear these away, we will be wasting our time.

Employment, just like the economy, is not sorted out overnight, and nor, Honourable Members, are good intentions alone enough. All of the tasks that fall to the government require sustained work and perseverance. At the last debate, I pointed out the following, "Either we are capable of making a consistent effort or it will be impossible to achieve what we all want; either we act responsibly or we are deceiving the Spanish people, making them believe that we can get by in Spain with an ephemeral government".

Hence, this means that, if the government is in a minority and does not have the strength or stability that Spain needs by itself, then it must look for collaboration to achieve this.

I appreciate that we will need to forge a majority every day in order to govern. To that end, we need a government that is open to dialogue. That is what I can offer. I am prepared to negotiate whatever decisions may be necessary. I will do whatever is in my hands so that we can work together for the good of the Spanish people. I will take the time to listen to and attend to the concerns of Your Honourable Members. You can be totally and utterly sure that I will know how to interpret what the Spanish people have said.

What I expect from everyone is that you are subject, as MPs, to the same responsibility to look for the best for the Spanish people, and make this same commitment.

I will finish now, Madam Speaker.

We have let 10 months go by that will not have been totally wasted if we have learnt any lessons from them. Fortunately, it is not too late, we have not gone past the point of no return. Spain maintains its drive and we are still in time to boost confidence, inject new energy and wipe away any remnants of instability.

I trust that we will find a way to give the Spanish people the government that society is calling for and the support for the scale of the job at hand. To achieve that, I ask for the vote of the Honourable Members for my candidature.

I do not know what difficulties will arise in the path of the future government. They will assuredly be neither few nor insignificant. My group, my party and I are all prepared to tackle them and to make such sacrifices as may be necessary. I don't know if that is the best thing for my party or not; I don't know whether it would be better for us to wait for a better time. These considerations are of no interest to me. All I need to know is what Spain needs now and for the People's Party that is a good enough justification.

Honourable Members,

If we must pay a price, then we will do so for no other reason that could fill us with more pride, namely for the good of Spain.

That is all, Madam Speaker, Honourable Members. Thank you very much.