Final preparations are in place for Spain’s general election. Schools have been turned into polling stations and the ballot papers and boxes have been delivered ready for up to 36 million voters make their choice.
It has been a campaign led by economic issues and the people have to decide which of the two candidates can best restore Spain’s fortunes in the face of the growing euro zone crisis -the socialist candidate Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, or the conservative Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy.
If the polls are anything to go by then Rajoy will win and end eight years of socialist rule. He has promised to get Spain’s economy working again and reduce unemployment which stands at around 5 million – twice as high as the rest of the EU.
Rubalcaba has all but admitted that the election is lost. Thousands of supporters gathered for a final rally on Friday night but the jobless rate, the country’s huge debts and increasing borrowing costs have all taken their toll.
And it is the young that appear to be taking the brunt of the downturn – nearly half of them are unemployed. The protests of Spain’s youth-led indignado movement have sparked similar movements across Europe. On Saturday they held a candle-lit vigil in central Madrid to keep up the momentum.