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  • Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias (L) and United Left leader Alberto Garzon, during the last campaign rally for Spain

    Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias (L) and United Left leader Alberto Garzon, during the last campaign rally for Spain's upcoming general election, June 24, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 June 2016

“It's a sad day for Europe. Nobody would want to leave a Europe of fairness and solidarity. We need to change Europe,” said Podemos' Pablo Iglesias.

The right-wing mainstream parties in Spain took the opportunity of Britain’s possible exit from the European Union to attack the Unidos Podemos left coalition in the last day of campaigning before general elections Sunday.

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Polls have Unidos Podemos in second place, just behind the PP and ahead of the Socialist Party.

Interim Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, candidate for re-election for the conservative People's Party, has defended the European integration project and called the outcome of the referendum "sad" and "disturbing."

The interim leader also used the Brexit to attack the leftist alliance Unidos Podemos, led by Pablo Iglesias and Alberto Garzon, putting the blame of the Brexit vote on populism, which he equated with Unidos Podemos.

“Populism ends up having a very negative impact for citizens. Moderation against populism. Stability against uncertainty,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

For his part the anti-austerity leader Pablo Iglesias said, “It's a sad day for Europe. We must change tack. Nobody would want to leave a Europe of fairness and solidarity. We need to change Europe,” noting that his party was the only one to actively campaign for Britain’s permanence in the EU.

His partner in the polls, Alberto Garzon, said the Brexit “is not the problem, but a symptom. The symptom of an EU for merchants and built against the people.”

Meanwhile Spain's Socialist Party leader Pedro Sanchez, also blamed populism and warned of the “unintended consequences" that can result from referendums that he called "a combination of populism and an irresponsible right."

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“Europe and Spain are experiencing tension between those who defend doing nothing and those who defend a break, such as those calling for referendums,” he added, alluding to Unidos Podemos, which defends the right to hold referendums on independence in Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque Country.

Rajoy also referred to separatists’ demands for a regional referendum on independence from Spain saying that referendums “are a tool that must be used with great care."

But Spaniards seem to be less worried about the Brexit, according to a poll by the daily El Diario, where only 33 percent believe that the Brexit will affect the elections, while 67 percent consider it won't.

The June 26 vote follows the king of Spain’s decision to dissolve parliament and trigger new elections after no single party won enough seats to form a government in the December vote. Since then, a caretaker government led by Rajoy has administered the country.

According to the Metroscopia poll, the new left-wing coalition, which is comprised of Podemos, United Left and Equo among other smaller regional parties, will secure 93 seats, 22 more than in the December elections while the PSOE will drop from 90 to 82 seats in Congress.

The leftist coalition has the support of voters tired of austerity measures employed and supported by the PSOE and the PP at all levels of government, including cuts to social services, pensions and salaries, labor market reforms and other privatizations.

The Spanish government has called for joint sovereignty over Gibraltar in the wake of the Brexit, especially after the British overseas territory of 30,000 voted overwhelmingly to remain, with 95.9 percent opting to stay in the union.

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