Friday, May 20, 2011

Zapatero’s Socialists Head for Vote Defeat in Spain as Protesters March

By Luis Jáspez - WikiMedia Commons
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s Socialists are headed for defeat in local and regional elections after a week of street protests and sits- in against his policies, polls show.

Thirteen regions accounting for 60 percent of the economy and more than 8,000 municipalities hold elections on May 22. Polls show Zapatero’s Socialists will be defeated in most regions, including traditional strongholds, and may lose the city of Barcelona for the first time in three decades.

Support for the Socialists has flagged as Zapatero turned his back on traditional allies to push through wage reductions and spending cuts to fight the sovereign-debt crisis. The run-up to the vote, a year before polls to choose Zapatero’s successor, has seen demonstrations against budget cuts, bank bailouts and a 30-year-old democracy that protesters say safeguards entrenched interests.

“The conservative victory will be pretty much a punishment vote for the Socialists,” Alejandro Quiroga, a political science professor at Newcastle University in the U.K., said in a telephone interview. “It will add to the perception that this is a government on its way out.”

Protesters pitched tents in Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol square on May 15 and have demonstrated there ever since. They are calling for changes to the electoral system to reduce the dominance of the two main parties and stem corruption, while opposing spending cuts and a youth unemployment rate of 45 percent. They also want to vote for lawmakers directly rather than for party lists, and propose scrapping the Senate, Spain’s upper house of Parliament. [...]

After the polls, the Socialist party will turn its attention to a leadership contest as Zapatero said last month he won’t seek a third term. Polls show the favorites are Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba and Defense Minister Carme Chacon. While the party has given a mixed response to the protests, Chacon said May 18 that she was “listening” to the protesters and some of their objectives are “not only reasonable but possible.”
Read the whole thing at

I'd say I wish I could vote, but the choices look pretty dismal.

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