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Despite fears that voters would punish Spain's ruling party for Prime Minister Jos? Mar?a Aznar's support for the Iraq war, Aznar's Popular Party emerged reinvigorated from local and regional elections in Spain on May 25. Although the opposition Socialists scored more votes than the Popular Party for the first time since 1993, Aznar's party did far better than expected. The Popular Party retained key mayorships in Madrid and Valencia and won in 35 out of 52 cities.
Now, Aznar and his team are expected to focus on new economic reform proposals, to be introduced later this year when the Prime Minister hand-picks his successor as party leader and prime ministerial candidate -- all a runup to national elections next March. Two front-runners in the succession race are Finance Minister Rodrigo Rato and longtime party stalwart Vice-Premier Mariano Rajoy. EDITED BY Edited by Rose Brady