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Zapatero's Socialists Re-Elected in Spain

Turning out in near record number, Spanish voters Sunday gave Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero another mandate to govern. The Socialists picked up one seat in the parliament, but did not win an outright majority. Gil Carbajal in Madrid has this report for VOA.

Appearing on the balcony of Socialist Workers Party headquarters in Madrid before an enthusiastic crowd of supporters, Mr. Zapatero said he will not disappoint them.

"Four years ago, you told me right here not to fail you," he said. "I have not forgotten this a single day and I tried hard to live up to your demands."

With nearly all the votes counted, the Spanish workers party won more than 43 percent of the vote, compared to just over 40 percent percent for the main opposition Popular Party, or PP.

Both main parties increased the number of their seats in parliament at the expense of the Communist-led United Left coalition.

This was cause for celebration at the PP headquarters in the center of Madrid where opposition leader Mariano Rajoy acknowledged defeat. He congratulated the Socialists and thanks the 10 million people who voted for the Popular Party for their trust.

The extremist Catalan Nationalist Republican Left party lost five seats, ending up with three.

The Socialists' victory left them seven seat shorts of an absolute majority which means they will need the support of the moderate Catalan nationalists to form a new government.

More than 75 percent of Spanish voters turned up at the polls to cast their ballots, just about matching the voter turnout after the Madrid training bombings four years ago. This time, many Spaniards cast their ballots to protest the killing of a former Socialist town councilman in the Basque separatist stronghold of Mondragon on Friday.

Prime Minister Zapatero came to power four years ago in a surprise election victory in the wake of the Madrid train bombings carried out by Islamic terrorists.