The former Spanish Prime Minister, Felipe Gonzalez, on a visit to Palma yesterday, praised the performance of the leader of the PSOE socialist opposition party, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, adding that the two men speak regularly. Gonzalez, the ex-secretary general of the socialist party, met Balearic leader Francesc Antich for talks yesterday morning ahead of giving a lecture in the capital on “the first global crisis” yesterday evening. Since Gonzalez lost the election to Jose Maria Aznar, it took the PSOE party time to find a new leader and a new direction, eventually with Zapatero, Spain's socialists appear to be satisfied and on course to challenge the Partido Popular, which will have to elect a new leader before the next elections, for power. While no longer at the forefront of Spanish politics, Felipe Gonzalez, who played a major role in the transition of post-Franco Spain, has always been behind the scenes of the party and has also stepped onto the international stage. At the end of April he was due to have accompanied the UN High Commissioner for Humans Rights, Mary Robinson, on a fact finding mission to investigate alleged gross violations of the Palestinian territories, but the mission was aborted because of a lack of co-operation on the part of the Israelis.

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