Spain's 23 million voters went to the polls on Wednesday (15 June) in the country's first free elections in 41 years.
Spain's 23 million voters went to the polls on Wednesday (15 June) in the country's first free elections in 41 years. Voting was generally peaceful in the elections for a two house parliament that will rewrite the constitution and replace the late General Franco's dictatorship with a democracy. However, several bombs exploded in different parts of the country before polling stations opened.
SYNOPSIS: Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez and his wife were among early visitors to this polling station in Madrid. The Prime Minister is leader of a centre-right coalition, the Centre Democratic Union, which is a close rival to the Socialist Party for the largest share of the vote. Senor Suarez said he was calm and optimistic about the elections.
More than 6,000 candidates were contesting the 350 seats in the Chamber of Deputies or lower house, chosen on a form of proportional representation, and 207 seats in the Senate (upper house) elected by simple majority. Another early voter was Communist Party Secretary-General Santiago Carrillo, who walked to a polling station near his Madrid flat. Senor Carrillo predicted that the Communists would win 30 to 40 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. He told reporters he did not believe opinion polls giving the party a lower share.
Workers and office clerks throughout the country were given four hours off work in which to vote. Schools were also shut for the day. T he Socialist leader, Senor Felipe Gonzalez, told reporters at the polls that he expected his party to win 25 to 30 percent of the vote, or roughly the same as the UCD led by Prime Minister Suarez. But he said the Socialist would only form a coalition government with Senor Suarez if certain conditions, including the release of all political prisoners, were met.