Majorca Daily Bulletin

News | Balearics

Aznar maintains lead but lacks absolute majority

Spain's general election campaign entered its final week on Sunday with a confident Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar already making plans for his second term in office. An array of opinion polls published by Spanish newspapers showed Aznar's centre-right Popular Party leading by 3.8 to 4.7 percentage points over the Socialist Party of main challenger, Joaquin Almunia. Aznar lacked an absolute majority, according to the last major polls ahead of the March 12 vote, indicating that once again he would be forced to strike a deal with the Catalan nationalist party in order to form a government. Aznar seemed to be reaping the benefits of a brisk economy with unemployment near 20-year lows, fending off daily attacks from Almunia that an elite group of Aznar appointees was getting rich as directors of former state enterprises. The polls by five Spanish newspapers estimated the Popular Party would win between 158 and 171 seats in the 350-seat Congress, short of the 176 needed to govern alone. The Socialist Party, in power for more than 13 years under former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez until losing to Aznar four years ago, was seen taking from 131 to 144 seats.

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