|Candidates Rajoy (l.) and Rubalcaba|
The financial crisis and the government cutbacks set in motion by the Zapatero government, almost guarantee that Rajoy will be Spain's next head of the Executive, something he had unsuccessfully tried before against Zapatero in the elections of 2004 and 2008. Polls indicate that the PP leader could get to La Moncloa (equivalent of Britain's Number 10) with a the biggest majority in the party's history.
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As a seasoned and skillful politician, Rubalcaba is well aware of the difficulties he faces. On more than one occasion he has said that "no battle is more lost than that which doesn't take place." In any case, he kicks off his campaign in Madrid tonight with the traditional hanging up of posters, then goes on to Sevilla on Saturday, for his first big meeting, backed here by the charismatic (and party heavyweight) former Prime Minister Felipe González, among other stalwarts.
Rajoy, for his part, is heading for the town of Castelldefels in Catalonia, which will make it the first time the PP has opened a campaign there. It is also, together with Andalucía, a key community in any election. One of the criticisms of Rajoy's campaign in the Spanish media is that he has yet to announce a party programme, though it is clear that he is focusing on the economy. Other items bound to appear in the next few days, but being kept well up his sleeve in an attempt to not frighten the electorate, are opposition to the new abortion law (which allows 16 year olds to have one without notifying their parents) and same sex marriages.