FRANCESC Antich, Secretary of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) in the Balearics and number one candidate for the Islands at this year's coming general elections, gave his full support yesterday to Socialist candidate for Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero. Zapatero has declared his intent to form a government only if he gets more votes than the Popular Party. Antich wanted to give assurances that this does not undermine the electoral practice witnessed in the Balearics following regional voting in 1999, when the Popular Party were forced to step down from the seat of power, even though they had won most votes. Antich gave his support to Zapatero's strategy and explained that if the Socialist coalition had been the political vehicle that swept him (Antich) to power after the regional elections of 1999 (instead of an outright Socialist Workers party victory), it was because his opponents, the Popular Party, didn't have anybody with whom to join forces and win a majority. When asked if Zapatero would reconsider his position if his opponent, current vice-prime minister Rajoy, were unable to declare an outright majority or form a coalition with other centre-right wing parties, Antich stated that it would be up to the Socialist party Executive what line should be taken in a post-electoral situation. Last weekend, Zapatero was confident that he would only attempt to form a government in collabortaion with other parties, if the Socialist Workers Party won more outright votes than the Popular Party at the national elections during this coming March (he didn't specify the number of Parliamentary seats). Meanwhile, Antich confirmed that he would continue to act as spokesman for his party in Opposition during the electoral campaign and that he would give up his Parliamentary seat once the elections had been held.
He also announced that Balearic proposals which had been submitted to form part of the national Socialist manifesto had been accepted. If Zapatero becomes Prime Minister, residents in the Islands will be entitled to a further 50 percent discount on travel and that the region would be entitled to participate in airport management. Antich went on to reaffirm that the PSOE is committed to improving and extending railway transport.
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