Spain's center-right opposition People's Party has gained power in a landslide election "as voters punished the outgoing Socialist government for the worst economic crisis in generations."
"With the PP winning 186 of the 350 seats in parliament, 56-year-old Former Interior Minister Mariano Rajoy was given a free hand to carry out sweeping reforms and impose further austerity in an attempt to turn the country around," reports The Guardian.
Will Rajoy and the PP reverse the sweeping gains made by gays and women under Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero? Many gays and lesbians fear so, reports Expatica.com.
PP has appealed to the Constitutional Court against Spain's gay marriage law, which has allowed over 20,000 gay couples to wed since it was passed by the Socialist government in 2005. Rajoy has repeatedly said he prefers the term "civil union" to "marriage" for same-sex unions.
Zapatero also passed a "fast-track" divorce law that came into effect in 2005. Under a law that came into effect last year, abortion became fully legalised in Spain. It was previously available in cases of rape, deformity or where the pregnancy endangered a woman's health. The law controversially requires minors aged 16 or 17 to inform their families of a decision to abort, except if they face "a clear risk of family violence, threats, pressure or mistreatment".
Spain has the distinction of being "on the frontline of LGBT rights," reports the Global Post. When it legalized marriage equality in 2005, it was "only the third country in the world to allow same-sex marriage with legislation that also allowed gay couples to adopt children."
"With 5 million people out of work and the European Union's highest jobless rate, Spain is heading into its second recession in four years.," adds Reuters. Unemployment among youth ages 16-24 is above 45 percent.