With unemployment remaining high and fears another recession may be around the corner, Spain's new conservative government has its work cut out for it. The new cabinet has been sworn into office.
The cabinet of newly elected Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has officially taken office. The 13 ministers, whose main job will be to steer Spain out of its deep economic crisis were sworn in, a day after Rajoy unveiled his cabinet team. Most of those appointed are close advisers with previous government experience.
Rajoy's center-right Popular Party was elected by a landslide in November after voters angry about an unemployment rate of 21.5 percent threw out the Socialists in early elections. Rajoy has promised deep spending cuts and vowed to stick to Spain's budget deficit targets of 4.4 percent of gross domestic product in 2012 and 3.0 percent - the European Union limit - in 2013.
The man who will have to make that happen is Luis de Guindos, a former manager of ruined bank Lehman Brothers and economy under-secretary in the last center-right government. He now heads the economy ministry. He and the new treasury minister, Cristobal Montoro, are expected to lead a costly overhaul of Spanish banks.
De Guindos favors the creation of a "bad bank," where bad property assets weighing down banks cans be pooled in a state-run structure.
Two of Rajoy's picks also underscore his positioning towards Europe. His new foreign minister, Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo, is a member of the European Parliament, while the agriculture minister, Miguel Arias, was a longstanding European deputy.
Author: Holly Fox (AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Joanna Impey