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Round 2: Zapatero beats Rajoy in election debate

March 3, 2008

After losing last Monday’s debate against Spain’s Socialist Party (PSOE) leader José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, opposition Popular Party (PP) head Mariano Rajoy did a poor job in convincing Spaniards Monday in the last of two debates to vote for his party.

Spain will hold generation elections on March 9.

Two polls right after the debate gave Zapatero an ever greater margin of victory than in the first encounter. Television station Cuarto gave Zapatero 50.8% versus 29.0% for Rajoy, with La Sexta giving Zapatero 49.2% compared with 29.8% for Rajoy.

A poll done by Spain’s largest daily El País reported that 53% thought that Zapatero won the debate versus 38% who thought that Rajoy did better; Madrid El Mundo daily gave the following results: 49% for Zapatero and 40.2% for Rajoy.

In the first debate on February 25, Television station Cuatro gave Rordíguez 45.4% versus 33.4% for Rajoy, while 45.4% of La Sexta viewers believed that the PSOE leader beat the head of the PP, who got 30.1%. Antena 3 was the closest of the three polls, with Rodríguez Zapatero getting 45.4% against 39.3% for Rajoy.

Like the first debate, both candidates didn’t tell Spaniards anything new. It was more like a boxing match where Zapatero and Rajoy attempted to give a knock-out punch without luck.

Some of the hot topics of the night that incited both candidates was illegal immigration, ETA terrorist group and regional governments such as in Catalonia.

The biggest difference between the first and second debate is the ferocity of Rajoy’s attacks against Zapatero. “You haven’t done anything, you never tell the truth, you always lie, you live on another planet, you have failed” are some of the expressions Rajoy used to describe Zapatero and his mandate.

On the other hand, Zapatero looked like Mohammad Ali but without his charisma, using the ropes to cushion the punches like in the famous rope-a-dope. In the end, the more Rajoy attacked Zapatero the less credibility he appeared to have.

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