YOU THOUGHT that Obama was the only leader of a Western democracy who was imploding? Think again:
Spain's beleaguered prime minister suffered an embarrassing setback in a local election race Sunday, and a poll showed his party trailing ever further behind the opposition conservatives at the national level.But wait, there's more:
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's hand-picked candidate to be the Socialist contender in next year's race for the presidency of the Madrid regional government lost a primary election to a rebel candidate that Zapatero had specifically asked not to run.
. . . Zapatero's candidate Trinidad Jimenez, the popular and nationally prominent health minister, was supported enthusiastically by Zapatero and the big guns of his government.
Still, she lost to Tomas Gomez, the much lesser known president of the regional branch of Zapatero's Socialist party.
. . . Sunday's result suggests that with all Zapatero's problems — a 20 percent jobless rate and listless economy, unions angry over labor market reforms and other austerity measures, and markets wary of Spanish government finances — the premier has trouble even imposing his authority over a handful of members of his Socialist party living in the same city as him.
A survey published Sunday in El Pais doled out more bad news: The opposition Popular Party would win by 14.5 percentage points over the Socialists if elections were held now. The next general election is currently scheduled for 2012.
. . . The new cushion for the conservatives has grown by 5.6 percentage points in just a month in the Metroscopia poll carried out for the nation's top selling paper, which tends to be pro-Zapatero.