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Spain regional and municipal elections May 22

Source: Reuters - Wed 11th May 2011

All of Spain's municipalities and 13 of its 17 autonomous regions hold elections on May 22, in a vote expected to punish the ruling Socialists over high unemployment and the stagnant economy.

Polls show the centre-right opposition Popular Party likely to take control of several regions and cities currently under the Socialists, possibly setting them up for a return to power in general elections currently scheduled for March 2012.

More than one in five Spanish job seekers are without work, the highest jobless rate in Europe. The approval rating for Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has sunk to lower than three out of 10.


* 8,116 municipalities elect mayors and city councils.

* Spain has a population of about 47 million and 34.68 million are registered voters. Almost half a million are foreign residents with voting rights.

* The Partido Popular will take 39.2% of votes compared with 33.4% for the Socialist, an almost 6% difference at a national level, according to a recent poll by Metroscopia. That compares with a narrower than one point difference in 2007 municipal elections, when the PP had 36.01% and the PSOE had 35.31%.

* Turnout in 2007 was 63.27% of registered voters.

* The PP will hold on to Madrid, Spain's capital and largest city, which they have ruled since 1991, several polls show.

* The Socialists are expected to lose Spain's No. 2 city, Barcelona, which they have controlled since 1979. The nationalist center-right Convergencia i Unio is expected to take Barcelona, according to a poll by the Sociological Research Centre (CIS).

* Seville, Spain's fourth biggest city, could return to the PP after 12 years under the Socialists, according to the CIS poll.

* That would leave the Socialists without a single one of Spain's four biggest cities, home to 14% of the population, since the PP have governed No. 3 city Valencia since 1991.


* The PP could add the Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha regions to those it governs, but the vote will be close, according to the CIS poll.

* According to the poll, even if PP wins the largest minority in Extremadura it might not get control, because PSOE could form a coalition with a small leftist party to control the regional legislature.

* Castilla-La Mancha, a large region south of Madrid with 22% unemployment, is seen as the battleground region, with the election very close. PP General Secretary Maria Dolores de Cospedal is running to be president of the region and is seen taking 46.3% of the vote compared with 45% for the Socialists, a technical tie.

* The PP currently controls the legislature in 6 out of 17 regions. Regionalist or nationalist parties govern three regions, sometimes in alliances with the Socialists. The Socialists have the rest.

* Four regional legislatures are NOT up for elections in May. Catalonia, Galicia, Andalucia and the Basque region run on a different electoral calendar.


* The presidents of Spain's autonomous regions carry a lot of weight in their political parties, especially those who have been in power for some time.

* With Spain under pressure to cut its public deficit, the autonomous regions, which represent some 36 percent of total public spending in the country, have come under pressure to cut costs. The winners of the elections will face the unpleasant task of deficit reduction, which some say has been put off until after the vote.

* The fiscal deficit of the autonomous regions has grown considerably in the past three years and now represents 2.83% of Gross Domestic Product. The total public deficit is 9.24% of GDP. The goal is to cut the overall deficit to 3% of GDP, with the autonomous regions' piece of the deficit equivalent to 1.1% of GDP.

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