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Yes, but Putin has just been returned in the Russian elections ...

Spain Socialists Win Election, Ousting Popular Party (Update2)

March 14 (Bloomberg) -- Spain's opposition Socialists led by Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero won elections three days after bombings in Madrid, linked to the government's support for the Iraq war, prompted voters to oust the Popular Party after eight years.

With 85 percent of the vote counted, the Socialists led with 43 percent of the vote and 164 seats in the parliament, compared with 125 seats in the 2000 election, the Interior Ministry said. The Popular Party, which led in opinion polls before the terror attack, won 37 percent and 148 seats, losing its absolute majority.

The Popular Party, led by Mariano Rajoy, first blamed the Basque terror group ETA of the rush-hour bombings on commuter trains that killed 200 people. As evidence mounted of a link to extremist groups connected to al-Qaeda, thousand of Spaniards protested outside PP headquarters across the country demanding clarification before the election.

``The attacks were because of the war,'' said Rafael Pampillon, Economics professor at Madrid's Instituto de Empresa Business School. ``If it had been ETA, the PP would have won.''

Neither party won enough seats in Spain's 350-seat congress to form a government without the support of other parties, the results from the Madrid-based Interior Ministry showed.

The Socialists will have the first chance to form a government and will likely try to reach an agreement with the Catalonia regional party Convergence and Union. Eduardo Zaplana, the government's spokesman, conceded defeat for the Popular Party.

The participation rate rose to 75.5 percent of eligible voters from 68.7 percent in the 2000 election.

The final opinion polls on the elections, published on March 8, three days before the bombing, showed Rajoy's party would win. An opinion poll conducted by market research company Sigma Dos for the newspaper El Mundo put the Popular Party on 42 percent of the vote, compared with 38 percent for the Socialists.

To see the election returns as they are published,


Created By: Padraig L Henry