22 Nov 2011

Landslide election win for opposition in Spain

6:09 am on 22 November 2011

The ruling Socialist Party in Spain has conceded to the opposition Popular Party following an election dominated by the country's deep debt crisis.

With most of the votes counted, the centre-right party led by Mariano Rajoy is heading for a landslide victory, the BBC reports.

An exit poll projects the party will take more than 180 of the 350 seats in the lower house, with 43.5% of the votes.

After casting his vote in Madrid, Mr Rajoy, 56, said he was ready for what the Spaniards want.

Mr Rajoy, who is expected to tackle the country's debts amid slow growth and high unemployment, said he was aware of the magnitude of the task ahead.

He told supporters there would be no miracle to restore Spain to financial health, and that the country must unite to win back respect in Europe.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose Socialist Party has been in power since 2004, was not standing again. His party won only about 29% of the vote.

The campaign was dominated by the economy. Borrowing rates rose again on Thursday to almost 7% while the unemployment rate is 21.5%.

The BBC reports people are bracing themselves for a new wave of spending cuts and far deeper austerity.

The Popular Party is headed for its biggest win since the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1975.