Campaign kicks off for hotly contested Spanish election

AP News
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Posted: Dec 04, 2015 6:23 AM
Campaign kicks off for hotly contested Spanish election

MADRID (AP) — Campaigning started Friday for Spain's hotly contested Dec. 20 general election, with the latest opinion poll showing that no party is likely to win a majority and more than 40 percent of voters are still undecided.

Conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told followers at his Popular Party's first rally early Friday that the past four years have not been easy but the positive results of his government's economic policies are beginning to show.

Rajoy said the government's record "stands to our credit. We knew how to govern."

A much-watched government-run poll released hours before the campaign start showed Rajoy's party could win up to 128 seats in the 350-deputy Parliament, way below the 176 seats needed for a majority and would need substantial outside support to stay in office.

The opposition Socialist party could bag a possible 89 seats while the centrist newcomer Citizens party may garner 66 seats. Fellow upstart group, the far left We Can party, may obtain 25 seats.

The CIS survey indicated that 41.6 percent of those planning to cast ballots were still undecided.

The Popular Party and the Socialists have basically alternated in office for the past three decades and the Dec. 20 election is seen as the first time other parties are posing a serious challenge.

In the last election in 2011, the Popular Party won a majority of 186 seats.

The emergence and surging popularity of both the Citizens party and We Can is attributed to Spaniards' disenchantment with the two main parties' handling of the economic crisis since 2008 and their perceived involvement in myriad corruption cases.

"An indignant feeling has been converted into a new Spanish project, we are going to open a new moment in Spanish political life," Citizens leader Albert Rivera said at the rally opening his campaign.