Coming up

Don't miss




Renault's women drivers ad deemed sexist

Read more


Constitution prohibits Aung San Suu Kyi to run for president

Read more


War and Markets, with Steen Jakobsen, Chief Economist at Saxo Bank

Read more


France commemorates a hero of the left

Read more


Diplomatic strain for John Kerry

Read more


Germany and Russia 'discuss secret Ukraine deal'

Read more


Fake Twitter accounts spread Chinese propaganda

Read more


Argentina set for deeper recession after default

Read more


Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Former WHO Deputy Regional Director for Africa

Read more

  • Paris hosts its first pro-Israel rally since start of Gaza offensive

    Read more

  • Interactive: France’s new game plan to counter jihadism in Africa

    Read more

  • Israel calls up 16,000 more reservists as Gaza death toll soars

    Read more

  • France remembers murdered socialist hero Jean Jaurès

    Read more

  • Air France ground workers to strike on August 2

    Read more

  • Sierra Leone declares state of emergency over Ebola outbreak

    Read more

  • Investigators reach MH17 crash site amid 24-hour ceasefire

    Read more

  • Video: Inside Hamas ‘terror’ tunnels in Gaza

    Read more

  • Scores feared dead in India landslide

    Read more

  • Russia ordered to pay further €1.9 billion to Yukos shareholders

    Read more

  • Iraq's Christians: Nowhere to Run?

    Read more

  • Russia defiant as US, EU unveil 'phase three' sanctions

    Read more

  • US House votes to sue Obama for over-reaching his powers

    Read more

  • Argentina fails to reach deal with creditors

    Read more


Spain goes to the polls amid economic turmoil

Video by Sarah Morris

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-11-20

Spaniards voted Sunday in parliamentary elections that opinion polls indicate will herald in a new right-wing government following widespread dissatisfaction over the ruling Socialist party’s handling of the economic crisis.

REUTERS - Spaniards reeling from an economic crisis voted on Sunday in an election expected to throw out the ruling Socialists and bring in a centre-right party which promises only harsher austerity measures.

A grim mood dominated as people went to the polls against a background of soaring unemployment, cuts in public spending and a debt crisis that has put Spain in the front line of the euro zone’s fight for survival.

“Being a civil servant I’m not optimistic,” said Jose Vasquez, 45, who was among the early voters in the capital Madrid.

“We can choose the sauce they will cook us in, but we’re still going to be cooked.”

Pre-election opinion polls gave the conservative People’s Party (PP), led by Mariano Rajoy, an unassailable lead over the Socialists, who have led Spain from boom to bust in seven years.

Voters are angry with the Socialists for failing to act swiftly to prevent the slide in the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy and then for belatedly bringing in austerity measures that have slashed wages, benefits and jobs.

Yet people now seem resigned to further cuts, including in health and education, in the midst of a European debt crisis that has toppled the governments of Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Italy and pushed Spain’s borrowing costs to critical levels.

Spain’s bleak economic outlook hung over the election campaign. One in five Spanish workers are without a job and its economy is threatening to slip into recession next year for the second time in three years.

“Something’s got to change here in Spain, with 5 million people on the dole, this can’t go on. People like us just want to work.” Juan Antonio Fernandez, 60, an unemployed construction worker said as he voted in rain-swept Madrid.

Rajoy, who led his party in two previous failed parliamentary election campaigns, is likely to win an absolute majority giving him a clear mandate to enforce the deep and painful cuts seen as necessary to balance Spain’s books.

“I’m prepared to do what Spaniards want,” Rajoy said after he voted in the wealthy Madrid neighborhood of Aravaca.


The 56-year-old will not be sworn in until December but he is likely to swiftly lay out his plans during the government handover to reassure fraught markets.

Underlining the fragile situation, Spain’s borrowing costs hit euro-era highs during the election campaign, almost reaching the 7 percent level at which other euro zone nations like Ireland and Greece sought international bail-outs. Growth has stalled.

“If we had not had an election in Spain, the markets would have changed the government as they did in Greece and Italy,” said voter Antonio Diaz, 38, a local government administrator.

“The first problems the new government is going to confront are unemployment and the markets—who are what governs us. It’s going to be very complicated to solve Spain’s problems.”

Cheap credit then crash

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero decided against running for a third term as his approval ratings sank. The Socialists then chose veteran politician Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba as their leader for the campaign, but he struggled to differentiate himself from Zapatero.

The left-wing party took power in a 2004 election held three days after an Islamist attack on Madrid commuter trains which killed 191 people. Conservative Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar wrongly blamed blamed Basque separatist group ETA, prompting a voter backlash. Rajoy was the unsuccessful PP candidate.

Sunday’s election took place on the 36th anniversary of the death of dictator General Francisco Franco, who had ruled Spain since the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War.

Following the restoration of democracy, Spain joined the European Union in 1986 and the euro in 1999, enjoying years of prosperity and a real estate boom driven by cheap credit.

When the property market crashed in 2007 the government, companies and consumers all found themselves over their heads in debt.

“The best social policy is to create jobs,” said voter Luis Escobar, a 50-year-old hotel worker.”

“The guys in power haven’t done anything so if you want things to change you have to do something,” he said, adding that he would vote for the People’s Party.

The crisis has hit some regions, notably southern Andalucia, heartland of Spain’s tourist industry, worse than others.

In the Basque Country, people were voting for the first time in years without the threat of violence, after ETA announced last month that it was giving up its armed struggle.

The traditionally prosperous northeastern region has been relatively unscathed by the economic storm and most voters were expected to back pro-independence parties.


Date created : 2011-11-20


    Spain, France borrowing costs raise contagion alarm

    Read more


    Global 'indignant' movement here to stay, says sociologist

    Read more


    Zapatero dissolves parliament ahead of November polls

    Read more