Exit poll puts Spanish ruling party in power

The leader of the anti-austerity Podemos (We can) party Pablo Iglesias waits to cast his vote. Picture: AFP/Getty
The leader of the anti-austerity Podemos (We can) party Pablo Iglesias waits to cast his vote. Picture: AFP/Getty
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A strong showing by a pair of upstart parties in Spain’s general election yesterday is threatening to overturn the country’s traditional two-party system.

An exit poll last night projected that the ruling Popular Party won the most votes but fell far short of a parliamentary majority.

The exit poll for the state-owned RTVE channel gave the Popular Party 26.8 per cent of the vote. The main opposition Socialist Party, with 20.5 per cent was running neck-and-neck for second place with new far left party Podemos, with 21.7 per cent, the poll said.

It put support for the new business-friendly Ciudadanos party far behind the others, at 15.2 per cent. Jorge Clemente, spokesman for pollster TNS Demoscopia, said its figures are based on 180,000 face-to-face interviews.

Spain has been dominated for more than three decades by the Popular Party and the Socialists, which have alternated running the government.

The country could end up with a host of coalition government possibilities.

The most likely ally for the Popular Party is Ciudadanos, while the centre-left Socialists would probably team up with Podemos.

There is 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 when they did not win one.

Podemos and Ciudadanos 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”

This in a nation where joblessness for people under 25 is more than double the country’s overall 21 per cent unemployment rate.