20 Nov 2011

Election time in Spain

7:46 am on 20 November 2011

Voters in Spain go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new government.

Economic woes and investor concerns over spiralling public debt will hang heavy over the election.

Spain is facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with an unemployment rate close to 22%, its highest for 15 years and more than twice the European Union average.

The BBC reports there are also signs that the country is heading back to recession.

The election is being held four months earlier than expected.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said this would enable a new government to confront Spain's economic problems from January.

All opinion polls point to the opposition Popular Party beating the ruling Socialists (PSOE) by at least 15 points - even though PP leader Mariano Rajoy has already lost two general elections.

Mr Zapatero is trying to blame the economic state of affairs on the global economic crisis.

Mr Rajoy, 56, promises he will shepherd Spain out of crisis.