Rajoy's party set for victory in regional elections
Mar 25, 2012, 20:11 GMT
Seville, Spain - Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservatives on Sunday appeared set for a victory in regional elections in Andalusia, the country's most populous region, but remained short of an absolute majority.
Rajoy's People's Party (PP) had 50 seats in the 109-member regional parliament against 47 seats for the Socialists, when more than 80 per cent of the vote had been counted.
The PP had been expected to win a landslide victory against the Socialists, who have governed the region of 8.4 million residents for three decades.
Andalusia has an unemployment rate of 31 per cent - far above the national average - and the Socialists had also been tarnished by a corruption scandal.
However, the party did better than had been expected in its traditional stronghold. It might be able to form a coalition government with the far-left party Izquierda Unida, analysts said.
Elections were held simultaneously in the northern region of Asturias, with 1.1 million residents, where the Socialists appeared set to get 16 seats in the 45-member regional parliament, with more than 80 per cent of the vote counted.
However, it was thought possible that a government could be formed by the PP in coalition with another conservative party, Asturias Forum, which had governed the region until now. Together, the two parties had 23 seats.
A landslide in Andalusia would have consolidated the PP's hold over Spain, where it now governs 11 of 17 semi-autonomous regions. Among them, only Andalusia and the Basque region had Socialist governments.
The PP has an absolute majority in the national parliament after ousting the Socialist government in the November general election.
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