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Spain

Yearbook 2009

Spain. When regional elections were held in the Basque country in March, the Basque nationalist party PNV lost power for the first time since regional self-government was introduced in 1978. According to countryaah, a new coalition government was formed by the dominant national parties, socialists and the right-wing party PP. They are usually bitter opponents but united in their opposition to Basque nationalism. Some Basques worried that the Hellenic government coalition would mean reduced self-government. As a result, the exit of the Basque country weakened the position of the Socialist minority government in Madrid, when PNV withdrew its support.

2009 Spain

Several members of the Basque separatist guerrillas ETA were arrested in southern France in April, including Jurdan Martitegi Lizaso, who is named as the group's new military leader. Two former military leaders were arrested in late 2008. At the end of July, two civilian guardians were killed when their car exploded in the tourist resort of Palma Nova, Mallorca. The day before, nearly 50 people had been injured when an explosive charge destroyed large parts of a police station in Burgos, northern Spain. ETA later took on both deaths performed just before the 50th anniversary of the group's founding.

The government's plans to introduce free abortion aroused upset feelings. The Socialists, who have already introduced gay marriage and facilitated divorces, have been criticized by the Conservative opposition and the Catholic Church for pursuing an overly liberal social policy. Over one million people were reported to take part in a protest march in Madrid in October. The proposal meant that abortion was permitted from the age of 16 up to the 14th week of pregnancy. In the past, abortion has only been allowed in the case of rape, fetal malformations and in threats to the woman's physical or mental health. However, the latter has enabled more than 100,000 legal abortions per year to be performed in Spain.

The global recession hit hard on Spain, where the construction sector and the housing market almost collapsed. Unemployment rose to over 19 percent in October; youth unemployment was almost double. In March, the central bank took over a regional bank for the first time, and in May, Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero presented new stimulus measures. Among other things, the corporate tax was reduced for small businesses that retained their employees, money was allocated to the tourism sector and subsidies were introduced for new car purchases. In June, a rescue fund of EUR 9 billion was set up to support crisis-hit banks.

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