Aznar Challenges Rajoy to Cut Taxes for Spain’s Middle Class

Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar challenged his protege, current Premier Mariano Rajoy, declaring his willingess to rejoin the political arena and calling for tax cuts.

Aznar, 60, urged Rajoy to ease the pressure on the middle class in an interview late yesterday on Antena 3 television. Aznar, the first conservative figure to win power after the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, nominated Rajoy as his successor at the head of the governing People’s Party before the 2004 election after winning two successive votes.

“The punishment of the middle class is proving intense,” Aznar said, according to a transcript of the interview published on the station’s website. “Spain needs a thorough fiscal reform. We need to cut taxes.”

Rajoy has faced dissent within his party since raising income taxes in breach of his 2011 election promises to meet European budget demands. With an economy in recession, his government is forecasting unemployment will remain above 25 percent until the next election due in 2015.

Asked if he would consider a return to electoral politics, Aznar, who taught at Georgetown University and served on the board of News Corp. since leaving office, said: “I will meet my responsibilities, follow my conscience and do my duty to my party and my country.”

“Aznar projects the image of being decisive and the arrogance of being a winner,” said Ken Dubin, a political scientist who teaches at IE business school in Madrid and Carlos III University. “There’s no one who is sitting in power who can project either of these things. It certainly stirs up the waters.”