Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has said that he will not stand as a candidate for his Socialist Party in the next general election in 2012.

'I will not be a candidate in the next general elections,' he said in a speech to the party's federal assembly in Madrid.

He said that when he was first elected in 2004, he intended to remain head of government for only eight years and that this idea has not changed.

The prime minister called on the Socialist Party 'to begin the process of holding primaries' to nominate a new person to lead the party in the next elections.