Early election called
The Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has called a general election for Sunday 20th November, four months earlier than required.
The election will be for 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies where Zapatero’s Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) are the largest party with 169 seats. A new leader was elected recently for the PSOE, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, and he will lead the party in to the general election as Zapatero retires.
In the most recent opinion polls the PSOE were on 36% with the opposition Popular Party (PP) of Mariano Rajoy on 43.1% (they have 154 seats at present). Although the PP did extremely well in the local elections earlier in the year, the PSOE have narrowed the gap by 3% in the past few weeks.
Although these are the two big parties in Spanish politics, other significant parties, because of their regional positioning, are the Catalan, Convergence and Union (CiU) and the Basque Nationalist Party (BNV). There are a number of small parties who pick up seats in the election which is held in 50 multi member seats based upon the provinces.