The protests in Catalonia have dented the popularity of acting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez before the general election next month. Spain has held three elections in four years but each produced minority or short-lived governments as political leaders struggled to adapt to the new parties that ended years of dominance by the conservative People’s Party and Socialists.

The poll of polls published in El Pais newspaper suggests that the latest attempt to end the political stalemate with another election is unlikely to succeed. It put the Socialists of acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on 27%, down from 28.7% at the April election, while its main rival, the People’s Party, would get 21.6% of the votes, up from the 17.1% they received last time round. Most of the polls included by El Pais were carried out after protests erupted in Catalonia following the Oct. 14 sentencing of nine independence leaders to up to 13 years in prison. Various recent polls have indicated that support for the Socialists has declined since the sometimes violent protests while parties on the right calling for a stronger stance against separatism have received a boost.

Another poll published yesterday was at odds with recent surveys as it showed the Socialists would emerge the clear winner, with the potential to head a left-bloc majority that would not rely on regional separatists.

Another stalemate for Spain in a general election could lead to big trouble.

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