Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has been returned to office following legislative elections on 9 March. With almost all votes counted, Mr Zapatero's Socialist Party (PSOE) had won 169 seats, five more than in 2004, but just short of an overall majority. It is likely that the PSOE will seek the support of the nationalist Catalan Party in order to form a working government. The conservative People's Party (PP) of Mariano Rajoy finished in second place, with 153 seats. Turnout was 75.3%, close to the highest in Spanish history.
Zapatero's victory is seen as a vindication of his liberal social policies, which include the introduction of same-sex marriage, gender-equality legislation, and more liberal divorce laws. The PSOE had feared that an economic slowdown, high inflation and unemployment, and a stuttering property market would dent its chances of re-election.
Spanish voters also elected 208 members of the 264-member upper house, the Senate. The PSOE gained eight seats - taking them to 89 - and the PP lost one - giving it 101. The remaining 56 Senate seats are decided by indirect election by assemblies in Spain's 17 autonomous regions.
10 March 2008