Spain's Conservatives Win an Absolute Majority in General Elections

The election clears the way to implement deep austerity measures to attack unemployment and debt.

MADRID - Spanish conservatives won a whopping victory Sunday at the polls, ushering in a government ready to make austerity cuts as it looks to fight skyrocketing unemployment, spiking interest rates on debt and general economic uncertainty.

The victory, which gave the center-right Popular Party 186 of the 350 seats in parliament, and brings Mariano Rajoy, 56, to the head of the government, proved a punishing message to the Socialists, who have governed for the past eight years and saw millions of voters defect to tiny alternative parties.

Spain is the third European country in two weeks to change governments, after Greece and Italy. But unlike those examples where technocrats took over to implement unpopular austerity measures, Spain's new government boasts the legitimacy of wide public support and an elected single party majority in the parliament to enact its measures.

Rajoy wasted no time in sending a clear message of calm to international markets.

"Today, more than ever, our destiny is to play a role in and with Europe. The Spanish voice will once again be respected in Brussels, Frankfurt and wherever our interests are in play," Rajoy said in his victory speech Sunday night. "We will stop being a problem to once again become part of the solution."

Spain's audiovisual industry will wait to see how cost-cutting measures translates to their interests. One of the expected changes could include cutting the Culture Ministry or merging it with another ministry.

Another issue on the table, could be the requirement presently enforced on broadcasters to invest 5 percent of revenues in local production - tremendously unpopular with broadcasters, but having the primary backing of the Spanish film industry.

Rajoy is not due to take office for another month, but is expected to start announcing his government heavy weights very soon.

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