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Conservative Popular Party candidate Mariano Rajoy waves after voting at a polling station in Madrid AP Photo/Paul White

Spain goes to the polls in an election dominated by economic problems

The conservative Popular Party is expected to win the biggest majority in almost three decades.

THE POLLS HAVE opening in Spain as the country participates in general elections dominated by the poor state of the economy.

According to Bloomberg it’s likely that opposition leader Mariano Rajoy of the conservative Popular Party will emerge with the biggest majority in almost 30 years, expected to win as many as 198 of 350 parliamentary seats.

Voters are casting ballots to elect 350 members of Parliament and 208 senators. Stations will close at 8pm on the Spanish mainland, with the first results expected to filter through about an hour later.

Polls have pointed to defeat for the Socialists, with Mariano Rajoy’s center-right PP likely to be elected to try and steer the country from financial crisis.

The party has promised job creation and policy change, and has gained support on the back of a solid economic record.

Almost two years of recession have left Spain with a euro-zone high 21.5 percent unemployment rate and a bloated budget deficit. The country’s key borrowing rate rose above 6 percent for five consecutive days last week, just one percent below a rate considered unsustainable.

Spanish prime minister Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero called for the election amid growing concerns about the state of Spain’s economy. He is not standing for re-election.

Spain will be the fifth eurozone country to see a change of government against a backdrop of the debt crisis, following in the footsteps of Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Italy.

- Additional reporting by AP

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