People’s Party leader Mariano Rajoy is set to oust the ruling Socialists in Spanish elections and may win the biggest majority in parliament in more than two decades, an exit poll by state broadcaster TVE said.
The People’s Party won 43.5 percent of the vote, compared with 30 percent for the ruling Socialists, according to the poll released after the close of voting at 8 p.m. in mainland Spain. The results indicated the PP would win 181 to 185 of the 350 seats in Parliament in Madrid, compared with 115 to 119 for the Socialists, according to the poll based on 190,000 interviews.
The first results will be released after 9 p.m. when polls close in the Canary Islands.
Voters already bearing the deepest budget cuts in Spain’s three-decade democratic history are bracing for further austerity in exchange for Rajoy’s pledge to create jobs. The ruling Socialists are set to become the fifth government ejected because of the sovereign debt crisis, after Italy and Greece appointed technocratic governments and Ireland and Portugal fired their leaders after they sought bailouts.
“Rajoy will likely implement quick policy changes in an effort to impress markets and his European partners,” said Antonio Barroso, an analyst at Eurasia and a former government pollster in Spain. “A strong PP victory, coupled with the swift policy changes, could send a positive signal to markets.”
The campaign, focused on the stagnating economy and 23 percent jobless rate, ended on Nov. 18 with borrowing costs near records. That prompted Rajoy, 56, to say he hopes Spain won’t need a bailout before the new government takes over in December.