Spain's opposition conservatives win Europe vote

Spain's conservatives won their first national election since 2000 in Sunday's Europe vote.

Spain's opposition conservatives win Europe vote

Spain's conservatives won their first national election since 2000 in Sunday's Europe vote and sent a warning shot at the Socialist government after Spanish unemployment hit the highest rate in the European Union.

Spain's Popular Party gained 42.2 percent of votes to the Socialist's 38.5 percent, scoring its highest ever support in a European parliamentary election and its first major defeat of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

"Soon we're going to beat these results and we're going to win the elections," said PP leader Mariano Rajoy, forecasting victory in a 2012 national vote, as supporters in Madrid chanted "Zapatero resign".

"This result calls for a change in government economic policy and many other things because the majority of Spaniards have spoken."

But the PP lead of 3.7 percentage points, or more than half a million votes, was short of the five-point advantage analysts said could seriously weaken Zapatero, and lead to an early national election.

The government may have been helped by higher-than-expected turnout, at 46 percent participation, after a Socialist campaign warning of the rise of the political right across Europe.

The PP won 23 European parliamentary seats, against the Socialists' 21, a gap Zapatero hopes to make up once the economy recovers from unemployment widely expected to top 20 percent in 2010.

The Socialist party described Sunday's result as "reasonably positive", given governments across Europe had suffered due to difficult economic conditions.

"This does not change anything," said Socialist Party Secretary General Leire Pajin.


Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 08 Haziran 2009, 16:31
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