Spain's conservatives stretch lead over government: poll
Spain's conservative opposition party has widened its lead over the ruling Socialists since the government passed unpopular austerity measures, according to opinion polls published Monday.
If elections were held today, the opposition Popular Party (PP) would win 45.3 percent of the vote to 33.5 percent for the Socialist Party (PSOE) of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, one poll in the conservative daily ABC said.
Such a result would give the PP an absolute majority in parliament.
"The PSOE finds itself in an electoral depression" having gone down five points since December and "the Socialists' weakness has intensified" since the government unveiled its new austerity cuts on May 12, which include a reduction in the wages of public sector workers.
The poll by the DYM institute was carried out among 1,008 people between June 3 and 10.
Another poll published Monday in the centre-left daily Publico also showed the PP well ahead, although by a smaller margin.
It said 41.77 percent of the electorate supported the PP and 33.1 percent the PSOE.
"The PSOE has maintained an unrelenting slide over the past year and the PP has managed to open a breach ... to emerge from the stagnation in which it found itself," said Publico.
The poll, by the Publiscopio agency, was carried among 3,205 people between May 17 and June 9.
A poll released by the CIS institute on May 10, before the cuts were announced, gave the PP a lead of just 1.5 percent -- 39.5 percent to 38 percent for the PSOE.
General elections are not scheduled in Spain until 2012 and Zapatero, who governs without a working majority in parliament, recently ruled out calling an early vote despite the problems he has faced passing his austerity measures in parliament.
Spain just emerged this year from its worst recession in decades, which began at the end of 2008 as the global financial meltdown compounded a crisis in the once-booming property market.
The recession has sent the unemployment rate soaring to more than 20 percent.
© 2010 AFP