People's Party on course to take power in Spain, polls show

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The Independent Online

Spain's opposition centre-right People's Party (PP) is on course to sweep to power in next weekend's general election, after polls yesterday indicated it had maintained its strong lead over the ruling Socialists.

Polls in two major newspapers yesterday showed the Socialist party, blamed by many for doing little to improve Spain's feeble economic position, has made little headway. The PP has maintained a runaway lead of 14 to 18 percentage points.

With the vote now just one week away, Spaniards are angry at failure to implement measures to stimulate growth and tackle a crippling 21.5 per cent unemployment rate, the highest in the European Union.

The PP would implement austerity measures to haul the economy back into shape after a burst property bubble left the nation saddled with debt. But to do so Spain will suffer more hardship, probably entering recession again before showing any sign of improvement.

A Sigma Dos poll in right-leaning newspaper El Mundo showed Mariano Rajoy's PP defeating the Socialists with a 17.7 percentage point margin, 47.5 per cent to 29.8 per cent. A Demoscopia poll published in left-leaning newspaper El País put the margin at 14.5 percentage points.

The Socialists unexpectedly came to power in 2004, days after a series of bomb attacks on Madrid's railway system that claimed 191 lives. The government wrongly accused the separatist group ETA when Islamic groups were behind the attack.

Both polls also found that the Socialists would lose in their stronghold region Andalusia by a wide margin, but would hold on to a bastion in north-eastern Catalonia. Reuters