Socialists win Euro elections as many stay at home
14 June 2004
MADRID – Spanish Socialists beat their right-wing rivals in the European elections three months after sweeping to power in the wake of the Madrid terrorist attacks.
The ruling Socialist party (PSOE) won the European elections with 43.3 percent of the vote against 41.3 percent for its main rival, the conservative Popular Party, with 99.9 percent of the votes counted.
But the election was marked by strong voter apathy.
The PSOE won 25 seats of Spain’s total of 54 in the 732-member European Parliament, while the PP won 23, confirming the socialist’s surprise win in national elections on March 14, three days after bomb attacks.
Jose Borell, PSOE European leader, said: “The PSOE won the general elections and it won the European election.”
“We won in March with strong voter participation and we’ve won again with low turnout.”
Participation in Sunday’s vote was 45.94 percent, a sharp fall from the 63.05 percent in the last European Parliament election in 1999, the interior ministry said.
Spain was one of the few countries in Europe where voters did not vent their anger at the ruling party.
In fact, the PSOE improved its score compared with the March parliamentary election by 0.7 percent.
But the PP made stronger gains – nearly four points – to narrow the difference nationally to just over 306,000 votes.
A coalition of nationalist Basque, Catalan and Galician parties picked up three seats, a Communist-Green coalition two seats, and the Europa de los Pueblos coalition one seat.
While remaining well back in eighth place, the Cannabis Party nonetheless won 53,000 votes with its project for the legalisation of marijuana.
Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said: “In one year, we have earned our citizens’ trust in three elections, municipal, legislative and European.”
He said the European deputies would work for “a united and strong Europe but also a social Europe”.
PP leader Mariano Rajoy focused on the ground his party had made up, saying that “in two months we have cut the difference with the PSOE by half.”
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news