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Spain's Socialists wage necktie war; fashion rules clash with summer heat

Spain's Socialists wage necktie war; fashion rules clash with summer heat

MADRID, Spain (AP) - A fashion war has broken out in Spanish politics.

Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian showed up at parliament this week without a tie. Parliamentary speaker Jose Bono of the ruling Socialist camp took offense at this attire for a Cabinet minister and quickly sent Sebastian a gift: a tie, with a note that read, "I hope you like it."

Sebastian declined to wear the tie and the next day responded with a present for Bono: a digital thermometer.

It was Sebastian's way of saying the air conditioning was on too strongly at the Congress of Deputies, despite a 2007 decree to keep government buildings warmer in summer to save energy.

That's what Sebastian is doing at his ministry.

Wearing a tie at Parliament is not mandatory - some opposition lawmakers don't do it - but Spanish media say this was the first time a male government minister showed up for a debate without one.

Bono tried to downplay the exchange - but by then it was too late.

Socialist party spokesman Jose Blanco said it was silly to try to force government ministers into "uniforms" with neckties.

Labor and Immigration Minister Celestino Corbacho met French officials at the Foreign Ministry, then walked outside, took off his tie and unbuttoned his top button.

"One can be formal with and without a tie," Corbacho said.

Even the opposition got into the debate. Inaki Anasagasti of the Basque Nationalist Party said Sebastian was out of line and trying to divert attention from Spain's real problems.

"The time to go without a tie is on weekends," he said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.


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