Economy Overshadows Spanish Vote
PM in race to wire as unemployment climbs; voting is Sunday
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2008 5:06 PM CST
Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, left and Popular Party candidate Mariano Rajoy shake hands in the presence of Televion presenter Olga Viza before a televised election debate in Madrid,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Spain goes to the polls Sunday after a bitter campaign in which the prime minister and his rival have traded insults and accusations of lying. Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has maintained his slight lead and did well in this week's debate, but a raft of bad economic figures released yesterday has rocked the government as the race enters the home stretch, reports the Times of London.

The Spanish economy has boomed for 14 years and was the success story of the eurozone, but it has started to sputter. A deflating housing bubble, slowing growth, and rising unemployment portend a hard landing. A media blackout means that no further polls will be conducted before Sunday's vote, so it remains unclear how much the latest evidence of economic woes will hurt Zapatero.