Spaniards Vote In Local Elections Amid Protests

Spaniards voted Sunday in local and municipal elections forecast to inflict deep losses to the ruling Socialists as a week-long protest over mass unemployment continued.

Protesters, who blame politicians for the poor state of the economy and a jobless rate of more than 21 percent, remained camped out in central Madrid's Puerta del Sol square on election day.

The largest crowds were in Madrid and Barcelona, but there were also protests in Valencia and smaller cities, protest organizers and Spanish news media reported.

The Socialist government did not immediately order the police to move in to disband the demonstrations.

"What we are going to do is comply with the law," Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba told reporters Friday.

Yet Rubalcaba, who is also deputy prime minister, added that the police would not be there to create even more problems than already exist in the streets.

Spain's supreme court rejected an appeal late Friday to overturn the electoral board's order banning demonstrations on Saturday. Authorities insist that the day before elections in Spain should be free of political messages and campaigning, for a so-called day of reflection.