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Socialists win in Andalusia of Spain.

Spain's Socialists won Sunday's election in Andalusia, the country's largest region, but fell short of gaining a majority in a fragmented regional Parliament in which two upstart parties will have a combined quarter of the seats, according to preliminary results, The New York Times reports.

The Socialists were set to win 47 of the 109 seats in Andalusia's regional Parliament, with 99 percent of the votes counted, ahead of the conservative Popular Party of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, which was on course to win 33 seats.

However, Podemos, a left-wing party with a strong anti-austerity and anti-establishment message, was set to make a significant breakthrough by winning 15 seats in its first domestic election since it was founded on a shoestring just over a year ago. Another emerging party, Ciudadanos, finished fourth, with nine parliamentary seats, according to the preliminary results released at 11.30 pm.

The result means that the Socialists will remain in charge of this region in the south, which they have controlled since 1982 and helped develop in part thanks to European funds received after Spain joined the European Union in 1986. Then the government in Madrid was headed by Felipe Gonzalez, a Socialist prime minister from Andalusia.

Mr. Rajoy's governing Popular Party suffered a significant setback on Sunday, losing a third of the seats that it won in the previous election in Andalusia in 2012, according to the preliminary results.The Socialists entered the balloting with their party tainted by corruption scandals and a regional unemployment rate of 34 percent, 10 percentage points above the national average. But the Socialist regional leader, Susana Diaz, led a forceful campaign in which she transferred the blame for Andalusia's economic problems onto Mr. Rajoy and the austerity cuts imposed by Madrid.

Even if Podemos did not manage to break the Socialist dominance of Andalusia, its result on Sunday suggests the party will be a strong challenger in forthcoming votes, starting with elections in most of Spain's other regions in May.

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Publication:AKIpress News Agency
Geographic Code:4EUSP
Date:Mar 23, 2015
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