• PSOE, Ciudadanos and Podemos candidates take on issues, each other
• Rajoy falted by opponents for absence, PP’s ongoing corruption woes
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was conspicuously absent in the first televised debate of the 2015 general election campaign, opting instead to give a one-on-one interview in the same time slot to another Spanish media outlet.
Rajoy, whose conservative governing Partido Popular (PP) remains in the lead in opinion polls, was attacked in his absence by the three opposition candidates participating in the Nov. 30th televised debate, which was sponsored by the daily newspaper El País.
Opposition leader Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist party (PSOE) faced off against Albert Rivera of the new center-right Ciudadanos party and Pablo Iglesias of the insurgent-left Podemos party in the 120-minute debate.
PSOE last governed Spain from 2003-11 and since the country’s transition to democracy has alternated power with Rajoy’s PP. But both the PSOE and the PP are facing strong challenges from Ciudadanos, with Podemos also carving out votes from the PSOE’s traditional constituency on the political left.