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Spanish ruling party expects poor election result

Spanish ruling party expects poor election result

Spain's ruling Socialist party headed for very poor results in local and regional elections held Sunday, as protesters fed up with the country's economic crisis and what they see as indifferent and corrupt politicians dug in for another week of unprecedented sit-ins and rallies.
The elections were a key test of how much the center-left party's support has crumbled due to its handling of Spain's real estate collapse and its subsequent economic and debt crisis, and are seen as a preview for general elections next year.
The Interior Ministry website said that with 67 percent of the municipal votes counted, opposition conservative Popular Party had a nearly nine percentage points advantage over the Socialists. In the last such elections in 2007, the conservatives won by less than one point. The Popular Party is favored to win general elections next year, too.
Speaking after polls closed, senior Socialist party official Elena Valenciano said the results are linked to the country's economic woes _ staggering unemployment and a bleak future for people young and not so young.
"The first data we have indicate this will not be a good night for the Socialist Party," Valenciano said, basing her assessment on internal party polls.
The newspaper El Pais said exit polls by Spanish TV stations show opposition conservatives increasing their majorities significantly in at least two major regional governments _ Madrid and Valencia.
"It is evident that the result of these elections is directly related to the economic crisis and its effects on Spanish society," Valenciano said.
Spain has the eurozone's highest jobless rate at 21.3 percent as its struggles to recover from nearly two years of recession prompted by the collapsing of a real estate bubble.
As votes were tallied, Spanish national television showed merry crowds starting to gather outside its headquarters in Madrid and virtually no one outside the Socialist headquarters.
In the Basque region, Spanish national TV said partial results showed that a nationalist coalition called Bildu _ which includes candidates whom police had linked to banned political wing of the separatist group ETA but were allowed by Spain's highest court to run anyway _ had won seats in the town halls of three of the region's provincial capitals.
The voting comes against a backdrop of economic angst.
Protest camps of mainly young people sprang up in cities around the country a week ago and swelled to tens of thousands of demonstrators who on Saturday defied a government ban on gatherings the day before an election. The growing protest movement reflects the strong disillusionment felt by Spaniards toward a political system they say favors economic interests and political fat cats in both major parties on the right and left over ordinary people.
The government did not disperse the demonstrators, including the largest group camped out in Madrid's central Puerta del Sol square opposite city hall. Protesters on Sunday voted to stay in that square until at least May 29.
"Our zeal to press on is at maximum level," said a spokesman, Francisco Minarro, 32.
More than 34 million people were eligible to vote for seats in 13 of Spain's 17 semiautonomous regional governments and for more than 8,000 city halls nationwide.


Updated : 2021-10-19 13:18 GMT+08:00