Spanish P.M. faces regional vote test

Oct. 20, 2012 at 6:38 PM

MADRID, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Early regional elections in Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's native Galicia are being seen as a referendum on his austerity program, experts say.

While the prime minister's Popular Party holds a majority in the regional parliament, polls show a close race Sunday, The New York Times reported. Many voters said they had still not decided which party to favor.

Santiago Lago-Penas, an economist at Vigo University, called the election "a serious test for Mr. Rajoy's own credibility because he has used Galicia as a showcase for austerity."

Opposition party leaders say Alberto Nunez Feijoo, the regional president, has been downplaying his party affiliation and ties to Rajoy. But a Popular Party spokesman said it makes sense for Feijoo to highlight his own achievements since the party only gained power in the national government nine months ago.

The Basque Country is also holding elections Sunday. The big question there is how well Bildu, a year-old radical party pushing for independence, will do.

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