Crowds celebrate Spain election win at party base
Crowds of Popular Party supporters celebrated outside the conservative party's headquarters in Madrid on Sunday after it won an absolute majority in parliament in Spain's general election.
About one thousand people cheered and waved blue and white party flags when Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy, 56, appeared on a large balcony set up outside the headquarters accompanied by his wife Elvira and several top party officials.
"Thanks to you and my party today we are here and we can say we have a very significant majority," he said to applause and cheers from his supporters.
With more than 99 percent of the ballots counted, the Popular Party had 44.6 percent of the vote and an absolute majority of 186 seats in the 350-member Congress of Deputies, its biggest election win ever.
The win gives Rajoy a free hand to ram through severe austerity measures in the eurozone's fourth biggest economy.
The Socialists, in power since 2004, won 28.73 percent of the vote, giving them 110 seats.
Voters were angry over a 21.5 percent jobless rate, a stalled economy, government spending cuts and a worsening debt crisis.
"I am very happy, we could not remain on the same path. I am really happy that they won an absolute majority. This way it will be easier for them to adopt the measures that Spain needs," said Ana Perez, a 46-year-old shopkeeper.
Street vendors sold yellow and red Spanish flags and bracelets with national colours. Many people wore Spanish flags dangling from their backs as capes.
Others danced to the upbeat pop songs that blared from loudspeakers.
"I think Spain needed a change. We have had eight years of a failed government," said 16-year-old high school student Jorge Alises who carried both a Spanish and a Popular Party flag.
"I have a lot of faith in Rajoy's team, they are very focused on Spain's main problem, which is the economy."
The crowd included groups of youths, retired couples accompanied by their dogs and young couples pushing baby strollers.
"I am very pleased because Spain made the right decision. I am convinced that it will help Spain. We achieved nothing with the last government," said Maria Ferrer, a 28-yer-old employee of a telecoms firm.
Silvia Ortiz, 31, came all the way from Galicia in northwestern Spain to be at the Popular Party headquarters on election night for the anticipated victory party.
"We needed a change. We wanted to be here to celebrate it. I have been waiting a long time for this victory," she said.
"This country needs an economic and social change, a change in employment, in everything."
At one point during Rajoy's address from the balcony outside party headquarters, the crowd chanted: "Spain united will never be defeated."
"I hope there will be more work and that the party will rescue us from this crisis which the Socialist Party got us into," said a smiling Cristina Rodriguez, a 30-year-old economist who was accompanied by a group of friends.
Carmen Colmenares, a 68-year-old pensioner who wore a red scarf wrapped tightly around her neck to guard against the cold, added: "We lost eight years. I am sure the Popular Party will be able to fix things, with much sacrifice."
© 2011 AFP