Spain voting begins amid mass protests

Posted: May 22, 2011 in World News

MSNBC
May 22, 2011

MADRID — Spaniards began voting on Sunday in local and regional polls expected to deal heavy losses to the ruling Socialists, who are blamed for widespread unemployment that has off a wave of pre-election protests.

The elections are a key test of how much the party’s support has crumbled due to soaring unemployment and its handling of the financial crisis, and are seen as a prelude to general elections next year.

Tens of thousands of Spaniards demonstrated in the past week in city squares around the country against austerity measures that have kept a fiscal crisis at bay but aggravated the highest jobless rate in the European Union.

More than 34 million people are eligible to vote while in the background the growing protest movement has illustrated the disillusionment felt by Spaniards toward both main parties and what they call a political system that favors economic interests over citizens.

The protesters have called on Spaniards to reject the Socialists and the center-right Popular Party, the main two political options in Spain.

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