Spanish Socialists under pressure in key regional elections

MADRID (AP) — Spain goes to the polls on Sunday for local and regional elections seen as a bellwether for a national vote in December, with the conservative Popular Party steadily gaining ground on the ruling Socialists in key regions. Spain’s 17 regional governments, plus two autonomous cities, have enormous power and budgetary discretion over education, health, housing and policing. Twelve of them and the two cities will be contested on May 28. Other key battles include the selection of mayors for the country’s two largest cities, Madrid and Barcelona. Experts say the Socialist-led central government is struggling to persuade voters of its economic prowess, despite record figures for new jobs.