Three-way tie seen in Spain's vote as Ciudadanos gains ground

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 29, 2015 6:43 AM

MADRID (Reuters) - Newcomer Ciudadanos has caught up with Spain's long-established political parties and will tie three ways with them in the Dec 20 national election, a poll published on Sunday showed.

Ciudadanos, which bills itself as centrist and anti-corruption, would win around 22 percent of the vote.

That is roughly the same as the ruling center-right People's Party (PP), which has lost ground, and the Socialists (PSOE), who have gained traction in the past month, the Metroscopia poll of 1,200 people in newspaper El Pais said.

Podemos, an anti-austerity party which has also focused on corruption, would come fourth with around 17 percent of the vote, the poll showed, roughly the same.

Spanish politics has been upended by an economic crisis in which inequality and corruption have become the key focus of the electorate. Unemployment, while now falling, is still 21 percent and many of those working are significantly poorer and with less job security.

Ciudadanos is led by telegenic 35-year-old Albert Rivera, which different surveys show as the best-considered candidate and who fared surprisingly well in Catalan regional elections in September.

Up to now, the party has been widely expected to act as kingmaker, although many see it as a natural ally of the PP. It has been critical of corruption within the ruling party, however, and it is not clear it would support Mariano Rajoy to be prime minister again.

Spain's largest opinion poll, conducted by the state and considered to be the most reliable, is due for publication this week. The last one showed the PP set to win the election, with other parties catching up and Ciudadanos in position to tie up with either of the two big parties to help form a government.

(Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary; Editing by Alison Williams)