Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy faces key vote in Galicia

Galician President Alberto Nunez Feijo (left) and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, 6 October 2012
Image caption The centre-right Popular Party is seen to be facing a key test in Galicia

Voters are going to the polls in Spain's north-west region of Galicia in an election seen as a key test of the government's economic policy.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's centre-right People's Party has ruled the region for 24 of the past 31 years.

Polls suggest Mr Rajoy, a native of Galicia, has lost support nationally because of austerity measures.

A regional vote will also be held in the Basque Country, where separatist parties are expected to do well.

Spain has been in economic difficulty since the 2008 global financial crisis caused a big crash in the property market, triggering huge losses at its banks.

Its recession is forecast to deepen, and the country's 17 regional governments are laden with heavy debts.

Unemployment stands at about 25% nationally, and 21% in Galicia. There have been widespread protests against public spending cuts.

Spain is under pressure to ask Brussels for a bailout, but observers say Mr Rajoy may be waiting until after the regional elections to request one.

Spain has already in line to receive 100bn euros (£81bn) in eurozone loans for its banks.

In the Basque country, the Socialist Party that has been in power since 2009 is facing the conservative Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) and a new coalition of left-wing separatists called Euskal Herria Bildu.

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