The Straits Times
Published on Oct 22, 2012

Spain PM retains power in home region vote


BILBAO, Spain (AFP) - Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's right-leaning party on Sunday retained power in his home region of Galicia despite recession and biting austerity measures, official results showed.

The result means Mr Rajoy has avoided a political humiliation in a traditional Popular Party stronghold that would have undermined his standing just as he tries to convince world markets that he can fix Spain's finances and economy.

But a second regional election in the Basque Country added to the Spanish leader's challenges as an exit poll showed a new separatist coalition had finished in second place, just after the Basque Nationalist Party which seeks greater autonomy for the region.

The two regional votes came at a critical time for Mr Rajoy, who is agonising over whether and when to seek a eurozone sovereign rescue to finance the nation's runaway public debt.