Monday, June 20, 2005

Meanwhile in Spain

PP driven out of power in Galicia.

June 20 (Bloomberg) -- Spain's Socialist Party claimed a narrow victory in elections in the northern region of Galicia, ousting conservative leader Manuel Fraga from power after almost two decades as head of the government.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialists gained 11 percentage points in the vote to win 25 of the 75 seats in parliament, eight more than in the 2001 election. That left Fraga's People's Party with 37 seats, one short of a majority. The Socialists plan to form a coalition with the Galician Nationalists, who won 13 seats, to control the legislature.

``The result can be seen as a referendum on Zapatero,'' said Jesus Maestro, an analyst at the Institute of Social and Political Sciences in Barcelona. ``Picking up 11 points in Galicia isn't easy. But the PP has also shored up its vote much more than people expected.''

Yesterday's regional vote was the second in which the Socialists have gained support since their surprise victory in a national election on March 14 last year. Zapatero's popularity has been buoyed by his decision to pull Spanish troops from Iraq and economic growth of more than 3 percent.

There's some possibility that absentee ballots will swing one seat back, tipping the power back to PP, but it isn't that likely. Either way it's a huge surge for PSOE.