The conservative opposition People's Party (PP) won an overwhelming victory in Spain's election on Sunday as voters vented their rage on the ruling Socialists for the worst economic crisis in generations.
The Socialists conceded a humiliating defeat as official results showed the PP projected to take an absolute majority of 187 seats in the 350-seat lower house. This means he will not need the support of regions (Catalonia and Basques) to form a government as happened with the Socialists.
Spaniards voted in a grim mood against a background of soaring unemployment, cuts in public spending and a debt crisis that has put them in the front line of the Euro zone's fight for survival.
Further hardship lies ahead, with PP leader Mariano Rajoy committed to bringing in even harsher austerity measures to appease financial markets.
The Socialists under Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero led Spain from boom to bust in seven years in charge of the Euro zone's fourth-largest economy.
Spain is now the fifth Euro zone country where the government has fallen victim to the debt crisis, following Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Italy.
Voters fiercely punished the Socialists for failing to act swiftly to prevent the slide in Spain's fortunes and then belatedly bringing in austerity measures that have slashed wages, benefits and jobs. One in five Spanish workers is without a job, the worst unemployment rate in the Euro zone.
Spaniards are now resigned to further cuts, including in health and education, in the midst of the wider European crisis that has pushed Spain's borrowing costs to critical levels.
The 56-year-old Rajoy 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.
I'm prepared to do what Spaniards want, Rajoy said after he voted in the wealthy Madrid neighbourhood of Aravaca.
Underlining the fragile situation, Spain's borrowing costs hit euro-era highs during the election campaign, almost reaching the 7% level at which other nations like Ireland and Greece sought international bail-outs.
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Maybe sanity is beginning to return to some segments of Europe. One hopes so.Nov 22nd, 2011 - 01:00 am 0
I wish the new conservative Spanish govt. success in all of it's endeavors.