Upstart parties look to break up historically 2-party system in Spanish election

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

See Full Article

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 Sunday 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 neighbouring Portugal last month.

Francisco Herrera, a 43-year-old porter in Madrid, said although Rajoy had disappointed him, he felt the Popular Party "defends the economy and the type of government that suits us right now."

Spain could end up with a host of coalition government possibilities. The most likely ally for the Popular Party is Cuidadanos, while the Socialists would probably team up with Podemos. There's also the possibility of a three-way alliance between the Socialists, Ciudadanos and Podemos.

Days or weeks of negotiations may be needed to determine the outcome -- which will be unprecedented because the Socialists and the Popular Party have previously only needed support from tiny Spanish parties to get a majority in Parliament when they didn't win one from voters.

The nation's devastating economic crisis, non-stop corruption scandals and a separatist drive in the northeastern region of Catalonia have dominated Spanish politics over the past four years. Rajoy has boasted about his handling of the economy, done his best to skirt the corruption minefield and has vowed to halt the independence push.

His administration's biggest success has been in pulling Spain back from an economic abyss in 2012 and returning the economy to steady growth, but the jobless rate still stands at 21 per cent. This has fueled claims by Ciudadanos and Podemos that the Socialists plunged Spain into an economic crisis and the Popular Party has failed to fix the problem.

Rajoy's party also adopted unpopular austerity measures and labour and financial reforms that are credited with creating jobs but damaging the country's social welfare system. Although Spain's economy is now one of the fastest-growing in the 28-nation European Union, its unemployment rate is the second-highest in the EU after Greece.

His administration has been hurt by his U-turn on a promise not to raise taxes and by cuts to national health care and public education. Many Spaniards are also angry about what they perceive as the impunity of politicians and business leaders amid incessant corruption cases.

The question of independence for economically and politically powerful Catalonia has divided that region and soured political ties with the rest of Spain. Rajoy vows to quash what is seen as the biggest threat to Spanish unity in recent decades. Other parties favour negotiations to devolve more power to Catalonia.

Rajoy, 60, champions conservative social policies, siding with the Roman Catholic Church against abortion. He has raised questions about his future as the Popular Party leader, however, by including his deputy, 44-year-old Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, on campaign posters.

Pedro Sanchez, a 43-year-old former university economics professor, was unknown to most Spaniards until he was elected leader last year of the Socialists.

Ciudadanos has the eloquent, media-savvy Albert Rivera as its leader. At 36, he is the youngest candidate, and his moderate, business-friendly policies plus a pledge to crack down on corruption have attracted voters.

Political science professor Pablo Iglesias, a ponytailed 37-year-old, and his radical left Podemos party want to break the mould of Spanish politics. Podemos was born from massive Madrid street protests in 2011 that drew mainly young Spaniards weary of corruption.


Latest Canada & World News

  • Music programs helping refugee children adapt to life in Canada

    Canada News CTV News
    MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -- At 11 years old, Majid has a voice that more than does justice to her slight 4-foot frame. Standing in the hallway of the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, Ont., Majid is practising one of several songs she has learned as a member of Nai Syrian Children's Choir. Source
  • U.S. Coast Guard suspends search for mariner attempting to set sailing record

    World News CTV News
    HONOLULU -- The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for a Chinese man attempting to set a sailing record after a crew did not find him aboard his boat off the Hawaii islands. In a statement Wednesday night, the Coast Guard said a crew from the USS Makin Island went aboard Guo Chuan's trimaran about 620 miles northwest of Oahu and only found Guo's life jacket. Source
  • 1 dead, 12 hurt in fire at building on NYC's Upper East side

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Fire officials say an overnight blaze that tore through a five-storey apartment building in Manhattan has left one person dead and 12 civilians and firefighters injured. The fire was reported around 3:30 a.m. Source
  • Jury hearing Jacques Corriveau's fraud case receives final instructions Thursday

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- The jury hearing the case of ex-federal Liberal organizer Jacques Corriveau is to receive final instructions from the judge today. Corriveau is charged with fraud against the government, forgery and laundering proceeds of crime. Source
  • Forecast predicts 'eerily calm' weather for Halloween night

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Trick-or-treaters across the country are in for some "eerily calm" weather this Halloween. The Weather Network has released its forecast for Oct. 31 and says those who plan to venture out in their costumes on Monday can expect seasonally cool but relatively stable weather. Source
  • UN preparing for possible chemical attack in Mosul

    World News CTV News
    BAGHDAD -- The UN's public health agency said Thursday it has trained 90 Iraqi medics in "mass casualty management," with a special focus on chemical attacks, as part of its preparations for Iraq's operation to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group. Source
  • Belgium reaches deal to back EU-Canada trade agreement

    Canada News CBC News
    A landmark free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada could be signed within days after the Belgian government overcame an impasse with its regional authorities on Thursday.Why trade deals like CETA have become a 'whipping boy' for anti-globalization forcesANALYSIS | Wallonia's veto in trade deal about everything but Canada: Don Pittis?Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said his national government had reached a deal with the holdout region of Wallonia. Source
  • Bulldozers start demolishing Calais migrant camp

    World News CTV News
    CALAIS, France -- Bulldozers have started demolishing the makeshift migrant camp in the French port city of Calais, one day after authorities declared it empty. Work intensified on Thursday to remove the tents and shelters, shops and restaurants at the site, until recently a sprawling temporary home to thousands of people trying to go to Britain. Source
  • UNICEF calls airstrike on school a potential war crime

    World News CTV News
    BEIRUT - The UN Children's agency called the airstrikes in Syria's rebel-held northern Idlib province a day earlier an "outrage", suggesting it may be the deadliest attack on a school since the country's war began nearly six years ago. Source
  • British economy didn't take a hit in 1st quarter since Brexit vote

    World News CBC News
    Britain's economy grew more than expected in the third quarter despite uncertainty in the aftermath of the vote to leave the European Union. The Office of National Statistics said Thursday that Britain's economy grew by a quarterly rate of 0.5 per cent in the July-September period. Source