MADRID – Spain’s center-right conservatives swept convincingly into power and into an economic hot seat Sunday as voters enduring 21.5 percent unemployment dumped the ruling Socialist government.
The vote in the country with the eurozone’s highest jobless rate and a center-stage spot in Europe’s debt crisis saga came as the continent’s troubles cause financial havoc across the globe. And the victory for Spain’s Popular Party came just after financially troubled Greece and Italy saw their governments fall.
As thousands of cheering supporters waved red-and-yellow Spanish flags and blue-and-white Popular Party banners on a Madrid avenue outside party headquarters, future prime minister Mariano Rajoy called for Spaniards of all political stripes to work together to overcome the crisis – but sounded a somber note of warning for a country with an economy that has stalled.
“It is no secret to anyone that we are going to rule in the most delicate circumstances Spain has faced in 30 years,” he said.
But the 56-year old Rajoy gave no hints of how he will tackle Spain’s unemployment nightmare – with a much higher rate for young adults.
With 99 percent of the vote counted, the Popular Party had won 186 seats compared with 154 in the last legislature. The Socialists plummeted from 169 seats to 110, their worst performance ever.
Peace plan for Syria hits impasse
BEIRUT – An Arab initiative to end violence in Syria appeared at an impasse Sunday, as Damascus and Arab foreign ministers failed to agree on a formula to allow monitors into the country.
The Arab League rejected what it called a Syrian effort to “change radically” the league’s peace blueprint, which calls for the government of President Bashar Assad to remove troops from cities and towns and conduct talks with the opposition.
Syrian officials repeated concerns that the league was being used as a “tool” and “pretext” for Western intervention.
On Sunday, Syria denied widely circulated opposition reports that rebels had launched a grenade attack on the Damascus headquarters of the ruling Baath Party. The opposition is seeking to oust Assad and end Baath Party rule.
Blaze kills 15 at gathering of eunuchs
NEW DELHI – A fire tore through a makeshift tent at a gathering of thousands of eunuchs in the Indian capital, killing 15 people and injuring at least 36 others, police said.
Emergency workers said Sunday’s blaze was most likely caused by an electrical short and quickly spread through the tent, which was about 100 feet long. The tragedy struck at a prayer ceremony and feast celebrated by the marginalized community.
About 5,000 eunuchs had gathered for the event that’s held once every five years, said Shapo, an organizer of the event at a fairground in the Nandnagary neighborhood of east Delhi.
The term eunuchs is used in India to describe transvestites, transsexuals and others who identify themselves as neither male nor female but as a member of a third gender.