Debt-ridden Spain holds election

Nov. 20, 2011 at 9:23 AM

MADRID, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- A federal election began Sunday in financially troubled Spain Sunday with wide anticipation the ruling Socialist party would fall to conservatives.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's socialist party was elected by a large margin in 2008, but the country has since slipped into economic distress because of debt interest, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The newspaper said polls suggested the conservative Popular Party would have a "sweeping victory" and the Socialists would see their worst defeat in 30 years.

Earlier this year as the country's economic crisis became more evident, Zapatero said he wouldn't run for office again.

Retired Madrid worker Jose Francisco told the Journal his government was due for a policy change.

"We definitely need a change of government," he said. "The country must get back on the right track."

Spain is among several European countries bogged by debt and loan interest that has resulted in political turmoil. Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Italy are also in financial distress. Spain is the fourth-largest economy in the 17-nation Eurozone and has an unemployment rate near 20 percent, The Los Angeles Times said.

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