SPAIN'S centre-right ruling party has widened its lead in a Gallup survey released two months ahead of general elections even though more than half of those polled disapprove of departing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. Aznar, a steadfast ally of U.S. President George W. Bush and supporter of the war in Iraq, chose not to seek a third term and hand-picked his former deputy premier, Mariano Rajoy, to stand against Socialist candidate Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in the March 14 vote. Gallup said yesterday that its poll showed Aznar's Popular Party winning 44.1 percent compared with 35.2 percent for the Socialists.
The Communist-led United Left was third with 6.1 percent of the vote, Gallup said.
The poll showed the PP gaining 0.8 percentage points and the Socialists losing more than a full percentage point from the previous poll taken a month earlier. The latest survey of 2'025 people above age 15 was conducted December 1-19 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percent, Gallup said.
The voting age in Spain is 18. Fifty-two percent of those surveyed disapproved of the performance of Aznar, who went against public opinion by supporting the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. That figure rose one point from
Poll showed the PP winning
44 .1 percent compared with 35.2 percent for the
Socialists. a month earlier. Twenty-nine percent favoured his performance, down two points. Zapatero, the opposition leader in Spain's parliamentary debates and the subject of daily news coverage, received a disapproval rating of 50 percent, twice his favourable rating.

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