Hundreds celebrate Spain election win at party base

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Hundreds 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.

The crowd cheered, danced and waved blue and white party flags after a party official announced on a large screen held up by a crane that exit polls showed the Popular Party had defeated the ruling Socialists, in power since 2004.

"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.

Opposition leader Mariano Rajoy's Popular Party took 43.5 percent of the vote and an absolute majority of between 181 and 185 seats in the 350-member Congress of Deputies, said projections based on an exit poll by public broadcaster RTVE.

The Socialist Party won 30 percent of the vote and between 115 and 119 seats, the poll said.

Voters were angry over a 21.5 percent jobless rate, a stalled economy, government spending cuts and a worsening debt crisis.

"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."

Ana Azara, a 55-year-old housewife who came to the celebration with her son and nephew, was also optimistic that a Popular Party government could improve the economy.

"With a majority they can do things without having to rely on people who should never be in government to begin with. The Socialists always went against the wishes of the people."

Street vendors sold yellow and red Spanish flags and bracelets with national colours. Others sold sandwiches and drinks as loudspeakers blared upbeat pop songs.

Dozens of radio and TV reporters broadcast live from outside the party headquarters, recording the jubilant scenes.

"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 came to the celebration with a group of friends.

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."

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

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