Spain's ruling party surges after PM says will not stand
Spain's ruling Socialist Party has halved the lead of the opposition conservatives since Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said he would not seek a third term in 2012, a poll showed Sunday.
Zapatero, 50, announced on April 3 that he would not stand in the next general election and "two terms are enough".
The main opposition Popular Party (PP) has had a double-digit lead over Zapatero's Socialists over the past year as the government has adopted tough reforms to rein in public deficit and fight an unemployment rate of just over 20 percent, the highest in the industrialised world.
But the poll published Sunday in daily El Mundo gave the PP a lead of between just 7.1-7.9 percent over the Socialists depending on who replaces Zapatero, compared to 16.5 percent during the last poll published on March 9.
The Socialists would capture 37.8 percent of the vote with Defence Minister Carme Chacon, 40, at the helm of the party against 44.9 percent for the PP, it said.
The party would capture 37.7 percent of the vote with Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, 59, a pillar of the Zapatero government since 2004, against 45.2 percent for the PP.
With the chairman of the Spanish parliament, Jose Bono, 60, at the the helm, the Socialist Party would get 37.4 percent support compared to 45.3 percent for the PP.
The Socialist Party will likely hold an internal primary to elect a new leader after regional and municipal elections on May 22, polls in which the Socialist Party is expected to suffer heavy losses.
The vast majority of Spaniards, 70.8 percent, feel Zapatero was right to announce that he will not stand for a third term, the Sigma Dos telephone poll of 1,000 people carried out April 5-7 found.
The last survey by the polling form published in the newspaper on March 9 gave the PP 47.9 percent support against 31.4 percent for the Socialists.
© 2011 AFP