Spaniards are getting ready to vote in key elections in two regions. In the Basque Country, the head of the regional government, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, is facing a tough fight. Terrorism and the financial crisis have been among the top concerns on the campaign trail.
Ibarretxe’s moderate nationalist PNV party, in power since 1980, is said to be neck and neck with the Socialist Party and its candidate Paxi Lopez. The Socialists, who govern the country as a whole, have pulled out all the stops to try to gain control of the Basque region. This amid persistent violence by the armed separatist group ETA. Two parties accused of having links to ETA are banned from these elections. People are also casting their ballots on Sunday in the northwestern region of Galicia. Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has been campaigning hard here for his party’s candidate. They are keen to make sure they hold on to power after their victory in 2005 ended many years of rule by the conservative People’s Party. But this is the home region of the People’s Party leader Mariano Rahoy, and he has launched an all-out battle to try to win the region back.