The opposition People’s Party won a crushing victory in Sunday’s Spanish election, a TV exit poll said, as voters vented their rage on the ruling Socialists for the worst economic crisis in generations.
The poll by public broadcaster RTVE predicted the center-right PP would win an absolute majority of 181 to 185 seats in the 350-seat lower house with 43.5 per cent of the votes. The Socialists would take 115-119 seats, in their worst performance ever, it said.
In a rainy day across the country, people voted in a grim mood against a background of soaring unemployment, cuts in public spending and a debt crisis that has put Spain in the front line of the euro zone’s fight for survival.
Further hardship lies ahead, with PP leader Mariano Rajoy set to bring in even harsher austerity measures to appease financial markets.
“We can choose the sauce they will cook us in, but we’re still going to be cooked,” said civil servant Jose Vasquez, 45, who was among the early voters in the capital Madrid.
The Socialists under Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero have led Spain from boom to bust in seven years in the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy.
Voters punished them for failing to act swiftly to prevent the slide in Spain’s fortunes and then belatedly bringing in austerity measures that have slashed wages, benefits and jobs.