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January 23, 2022

Elections in Spain amid massive protests

Spaniards voted in local and regional elections Sunday after a campaign overshadowed by week-long protests in Madrid and other cities over the nation’s deep economic crisis.

MADRID – Despite a court-approved ban on demonstrations the day before the elections, the demonstrations continued over the weekend, CNN informs.  Polls predict the ruling Socialist Party will suffer deep losses to the conservatives in voting for all 8,000 Spanish city and town mayors and for presidents of 13 out of the 17 regional governments. The outcome is viewed as a bellwether for national elections due no later than March 2012. The Socialist government did not order the police to disband the peaceful demonstrations on Saturday, despite the electoral board’s ban that said the day prior to balloting should be a day of reflection, without politicking.

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said earlier that police would not create even more problems than already existed in the streets. Rubalcaba voted early on Sunday, shortly after polls opened at 9 a.m. Rubalcaba is widely expected to seek the nomination of the Socialist Party as candidate for prime minister in the next general elections.

The current prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, announced last month he would not seek a third term. His government has been squeezed by Spain’s 21 per cent unemployment rate, the highest in Western Europe, and a financial crisis that prompted unpopular austerity measures. A total of 34 million Spaniards are eligible to vote, including 500,000 foreigners, mainly from other European Union nations, who have established residency in Spain.
About 100,000 police officers are on duty to maintain safety. The polls close at 8 p.m., and results were due later Sunday.

Several representatives of the protests told CNN the demonstrations will continue even after the elections.

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