As campaigning for the May 22 regional and local elections enters a final week, the leaders of Spain's two major parties on Sunday went on the attack over social policies, including immigration and racism. Speaking in Zaragoza, Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero criticized the Popular Party for allowing its leaders in Catalonia to say publicly that migrants have brought diseases to Spain that had been eradicated.
"All that is left for them to say is that immigrants also smell bad. This is an outrage," he said.
In Valladolid, PP leader Mariano Rajoy told supporters that Spain was getting ready to embark on a "new era" once his party wins next year's general elections.
"We are working on issues that are important to the people. [The Socialists] are working on dividing the people and fomenting discord," Rajoy said.
Spaniards go to the polls on Sunday to elect regional and municipal officials across the nation in what is being seen as a referendum on Zapatero's Socialist government. The PP is tipped to win the major battlegrounds, including in regions where the Socialists have traditionally governed, such as Castilla-La Mancha, according to polls.
Meanwhile in Madrid, former PP Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, who is also running for re-election, was able to bring together adversaries Felipe González and José María Aznar for a ceremony honoring former prime ministers.
Also honored were the late Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo and an ailing Adolfo Suárez, who could not attend. The tribute took place as thousands of people took to the streets of Madrid to demand political and social change.