Sat | Aug 18, 2018

Country votes in historic election with upstart parties

Published:Monday | December 21, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos party, casts his vote for the national elections in Madrid, yesterday.
Popular Party candidate and current Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy casts his vote for the national elections in Madrid, yesterday.


Spaniards angry with 21 per cent unemployment and seemingly endless corruption cases voted yesterday in an historic election that is expected to end the nation's two-party political system because of strong support for two upstart parties.

Spain has been dominated for more than three decades by the ruling Popular Party and the main opposition Socialists, which have alternated running the government.

But many people casting ballots were expected to support the business-friendly Ciudadanos party or the far-left Podemos party. Both gained strength by portraying the Popular Party and the Socialists as out-of-touch behemoths run by politicians who care more about maintaining their own power than citizens' needs.

Miguel Redondo, a 19-year-old Madrid university student, voted for Podemos because "it's the party that best understands the difficulties that young people are going through".

Spain's 36.5 million registered voters were electing representatives to the 350-seat lower house of Parliament and to the Senate, which has less legislative power. Voting was brisk yesterday. But by 3 p.m., the Interior Ministry said voter participation was slightly less than in the 2011 election.

Polls predict the right-of-centre Popular Party will get the most votes, but not enough to retain its parliamentary majority. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said he would seek an alliance to prevent a leftist coalition from taking power, as one did in neighboring Portugal last month.