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Government support dips as Spaniards tire of crisis, corruption

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy attends a meeting with small companies in central Madrid April 29, 2013. REUTERS/Juan Medina
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy attends a meeting with small companies in central Madrid April 29, 2013. REUTERS/Juan Medina

MADRID (Reuters) - Public support for Spain's ruling center-right party has slipped following a high-level corruption scandal and ongoing recession, and Spaniards remain pessimistic about the political and economic outlook, a poll showed on Friday.

Half of Spaniards consider the political situation to be "very bad" and ranked corruption as Spain's number two problem behind unemployment, according to a survey by the state-owned Sociological Investigations Centre (CIS), carried out in April.

A record high unemployment rate of 27 percent, political corruption allegations and austerity measures have eroded support for the two main political parties, the ruling People's Party (PP) and socialist PSOE, the survey of 2,482 people showed.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's PP would take just 34 percent of the votes if a general election were called now, compared to 35 percent in January and the 44.6 percent the party received in the election in November 2011.

Recession-weary Spaniards were angered by allegations of graft at the heart of the PP earlier this year, though Rajoy has denied any wrongdoing by himself or the party. The survey showed 56 percent of people have "no confidence" in Rajoy.

Street protests have become a common occurrence in Spain, with over a million taking to the streets in May Day protests, according to unions, though such action has had little effect on government policy.

In recent weeks protesters have stepped up demonstrations with gatherings outside politicians' homes known as "escraches", which the PP has strongly condemned.

The PSOE has not fared well from the corruption scandal because of the public perception of politicians as generally corrupt, with parties the least valued public institution in Spain.

The PSOE would take 28.2 percent of the vote in elections, compared to 33.4 percent a year earlier. Its leader, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, inspired "no confidence" in 53 percent of respondents.

Smaller centrist party UPyD would receive 7.4 of votes in a general election, up from 3.5 percent a year ago, while other alternative parties like United Left (IU) have also gained support.

Spaniards were also worried about the economy, which has contracted for seven straight quarters. More than half of respondents described the economic situation as "very bad" and 36 percent expected it to be worse in a year's time.

Spain's next general election is due to be held in 2015.

(Reporting by Clare Kane; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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