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Spain: Podemos party picks Iglesias as its top candidate

July 24, 2015

MADRID (AP) — Members of Spain’s far left We Can (Podemos) political party have made it official: Pony-tailed leader Pablo Iglesias will be the top candidate in general elections expected at the end of the year.

The party announced Friday that nearly 94 percent of nearly 60,000 voting party members picked Iglesias, a college professor and party co-founder.

The party was established last year and more than 380,000 members were eligible for the voting period that ended Wednesday.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy must call elections by the end of 2015 but has not yet announced a date.

He is expected to run again as the leader of his conservative Popular Party.

Pedro Sanchez is leading the candidate list for the main opposition Socialist Party. The new centrist Citizens (Ciudadanos) Party is led by Albert Rivera.

Spain for decades was dominated by the Popular and Socialist parties but the entry of We Can and Citizens amid outrage over painful austerity measures and incessant corruption cases has upended the country’s traditional two party political dominance.

We Can and Citizens both made big inroads during nationwide regional and local elections in May.

Madrid and Barcelona both ended up with leftist mayors who ousted traditional power barons.

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