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Prime Minister sets December 20 as Spanish general election date

Mariano Rajoy says Christmas period vote gives more leeway to constitute new parliament

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy during the Antena 3 interview. Ampliar foto
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy during the Antena 3 interview.

Spain finally has a date for its next general election: December 20. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, of the Popular Party (PP), made the announcement on Thursday night, during a television interview on Antena 3.

Many PP leaders had been expecting a December 13 date, believing December 20 to be too close to Christmas and likely to find many Spaniards away on vacation.

Rajoy justified his choice on the basis of the congressional agenda.

If  it were held on the 13th, we would have to constitute parliament practically in the middle of Christmas”

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy

“If it were held on the 13th, we would have to constitute parliament practically in the middle of Christmas,” he said. “This way, there’s a little more leeway, we have until January 14. We can pass the budget, hold the elections and constitute parliament after the holidays.”

The Spanish leader had been a long time coming with a definitive date for an election that could mark the end of the two-party system in place since Spain returned to democracy in the 1970s. Two newcomers, Podemos and Ciudadanos, will be competing with the traditional PP and Socialist Party (PSOE) for a share of power on the strength of their anti-corruption message.

The PP, in power since November 2011, stands to lose significant ground if May’s municipal and regional elections are any indication. After sustaining deep losses across the country, the conservatives performed dismally again in the Catalan regional election held last Sunday.

Regardless of the poor forecast, Rajoy on Thursday expressed confidence in his chances for re-election thanks to the economic recovery and incipient job creation. The prime minister is promising to create up to two million jobs over the next four years.

English version by Susana Urra.