MADRID, Spain is holding elections on Sunday where decades-old two-party dominance is being challenged by anti-austerity and liberal newcomers.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s ruling Popular Party and the Socialist Workers’ Party are being challenged by the anti-austerity Podemos party and the liberal Citizens party.
The center-right Popular Party is narrowly ahead, according to opinion polls. Spain emerged from a financial crisis into a period of economic growth under Rajoy.
No party is expected to win a majority in parliament, meaning a coalition government will have to be formed. Rajoy’s administration adopted unpopular austerity measures and job reforms, credited with generating growth in the economy.
Dominant issues in the election include the economy, corruption allegations and the secession of the Catalonia region. Voters will elect 350 representatives for Spain’s Congress of Deputies to serve four-year terms.
Unemployment remains as high at 21 percent, the highest in the European Union after Greece, but lower than the peak unemployment of 27 percent seen in 2013. The new parliament must be established by Jan. 14.