Spain Readies For Elections
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (center), one of the four leading candidates for Spain's general election, arrives at a campaign rally in Santander, Spain, Dec. 15, 2015. REUTERS/Vincent West

Spain gears up for a weekend election with Mariano Rajoy's ruling People's Party expected to win, but perhaps fall short of the strong majority needed to deal with a high unemployment rate and other pressing issues. Ciara Lee reports.

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Villanueva de la Torre -- 50 kilometers from the Spanish capital Madrid.

When credit was easy it earned its place as the most mortgaged town in Spain. But when the real estate bubble burst, many here lost their homes and jobs.

As party leaders gear up for the weekend's general election, unemployment is a key issue. Rosa, 59, is an upholsterer and has been unemployed four years now. "They're interested in politics, the very rich, but that's it. The worker takes second place. We vote for them, but then they forget about us."

Mariano Rajoy's ruling party is expected to win the election. But despite steering Spain out of a double-dip recession it may be short of a parliamentary majority.

Rajoy's campaign took a knock this week -- literally -- after he was punched in the face during an event. The Spanish political scene is more divided than ever with the rise of new far-left parties threatening to cause upset.

Rabobank's Jane Foley explains.

"If there were to be any indication that austerity measures could be reversed or reforms could be reversed then of course the market would begin to think about how much risk this could create."

Discontent is a common theme in Europe.

Recent regional elections in France saw a swing to far-right politics.

"There is a trend and it really is the job of the politicians within Europe to maintain the coherence," says Foley.

As well as the rise of the Podemos and Ciudadanos parties in Spain, the new leadership will also have to tackle the issue of Catalonia.

The Catalan Parliament has already voted in favor of an independence motion -- which it says puts them on course for an eventual split from Spain.