It is looking like it will be third time lucky for People’s Party leader Mariano Rajoy.
Having led Spain’s conservatives in two previous failed parliamentary election campaigns, a landslide victory in today’s poll seems all but certain.
His rival, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba of the ruling Socialists, is forecast to flop, with the government set to be punished for an economic crisis that has saddled Spain with the EU’s highest unemployment rate.
Rubalcaba has struggled to differentiate himself from unpopular outgoing prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who is not standing for re-election.
Spain’s grim economic outlook dominated the campaign, and it is expected to head back into recession next year.
Voters are resigned to further public spending cuts, with a new government likely to dole out more bitter medicine to help balance the books. As a result, there is no great excitement about what the future holds – just a mood of gloom and resignation.