January 4, 2015 / 11:59 AM / in 3 years

Spain's ruling People's Party leads opinion poll

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy speaks during a news conference after the weekly cabinet meeting in Moncloa Palace in Madrid December 26, 2014. REUTERS/Juan Medina

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s ruling People’s Party (PP) came first in an opinion poll on Sunday, one of its strongest results in recent surveys, while the Socialists and left-wing newcomer Podemos were in close second and third place respectively.

Of those surveyed, 28.6 percent said they would vote for the center-right PP, the poll showed, still a huge slip from the 44.6 percent absolute majority with which it won the 2011 elections.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s party does not have a big rival on the right of the political spectrum, and a large problem for the PP would be abstention, the poll showed.

Spain is expected to hold parliamentary elections later this year. Around a fifth of those who voted for the PP in 2011 would abstain this time round, the poll found.

Support for the Socialist PSOE party has been sapped by Podemos, the poll showed. The Socialists would take 23.4 percent of the vote, down from the 28.8 percent they won in 2011. Year-old Podemos came a close third with 23.2 percent.

Of those who voted for the Socialists in the last general election, 18.7 would now choose Podemos, the poll showed.

The survey was carried out by pollsters NC Report, interviewing 1,600 Spaniards from Dec. 9 to Dec. 30.

Reporting By Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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