Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero held a special meeting with his Cabinet to set March 9 for the election, El Pais reported Tuesday.
Analysts have predicted a close race between the ruling Socialist Party led by Zapatero and the main opposition Popular Party.
The one-time ruling Popular Party accuses the Socialist Party of failing to negotiate a viable peace plan with a Basque separatists group known as ETA. In turn, the Socialist government has heralded its efforts to give Spanish regions more autonomy and improve the rights of the country's gays and women.
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