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ELECTIONS 2011

Parties hold final rallies with country facing grim outlook

Polls point to convincing victory for PP's Mariano Rajoy

With the country facing its worst economic crisis in modern history, and plagued by a pessimistic outlook, Spain's political parties closed their campaigns on Friday with a grim indication that any change in government won't be enough to calm the markets.

The Socialists, projected in the polls to suffer their worst defeat on Sunday, tried to keep a positive outlook asking supporters, as well as the undecided, to go out and vote. At press time, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba was holding his last campaign rally in Madrid suburb Fuenlabrada.

Mariano Rajoy, the Popular Party (PP) candidate, who is expected to become the next prime minister, was celebrating with his supporters at Madrid's Palacio de Deportes.

Since Spain's risk premium shot to record highs this week, Rajoy has been in daily contact with Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, according to sources at La Moncloa prime ministerial residence.

Public Works Minister José Blanco ruled out pushing up the date when the new government will take over. Speaking following Friday's Cabinet meeting, Blanco said that the new Congress will be sworn in on December 13 and the prime minister should take office by Christmas Eve.