Spain’s conservative opposition People’s Party (PP) has extended its lead over the ruling Socialists and is on course to win a parliamentary majority in the November 20 elections, according to an opinion poll on Sunday.
The Sigma Dos poll in the right-leaning El Mundo gave the PP a rating of 47.1%, and 32.2% for the Socialists, the latter battered by the European Union’s highest unemployment rate and an economy struggling to recover from crisis.
Concerns that Spain may not be able to finance its deficit have also dogged financial markets.
The PP’s lead grew from 13.8 points in the last Sigma Dos poll in June, and would be enough to win at least 183 seats in the 350-member lower chamber of parliament, El Mundo said.
The newspaper said the PP’s lead began to widen in May 2010, when Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero introduced unpopular austerity measures aimed at cutting Spain’s deficit back to euro zone limits.
Socialist support rallied in April when Rodriguez Zapatero said he would not seek a third term, but soon faded.
The most popular candidate, with a rating of 4.46%, was Socialist Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, who is widely credited with having successfully cracked down on armed Basque separatist group ETA during his stint as interior minister.
PP leader Mariano Rajoy was in fourth place with an approval rating of 4.18% amongst the sample of 1,000 respondents in the poll. The last time Rajoy was in government he served as deputy prime minister from 2001-2003.
Despite more than seven years of bitter parliamentary rivalry, the PP and the Socialists joined forces last Friday to vote for writing a limit on public deficit and debt into the constitution in a bid to reassure markets.