- - Sunday, October 21, 2012

BERLIN — A new poll finds that the large majority of Germans back the government’s decision to phase out nuclear power and switch to renewable energies within a decade, despite rising electricity bills.

The poll for German news magazine Focus published Sunday found that 72 percent continue to support the country’s energy switch. Only 24 percent were opposed to the policy.

Germany’s grid operators announced this month that a surcharge on households’ electricity prices financing the expansion of renewable energies will increase by 47 percent starting in January.

A typical family of four will then have to pay about $325 per year on top of their bill.

Polling agency Forsa surveyed 1,000 people this week. Focus did not provide the poll’s margin of error.


Elections held in Galicia, Basque region

MADRID — Two northern regions in Spain held elections for their legislatures Sunday in the first popular test of the central government’s stringent austerity policies since it came to power late last year.

A deepening financial crisis and how best to address the nation’s separatist tensions are the main issues facing political leaders and voters in the turbulent Basque region and in northwestern Galicia.

With 2.7 million voters, Galicia is a traditional stronghold of the ruling Popular Party and the homeland of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, so an upset there would rock the party regionally and nationally.

Spain is in its second recession in three years and has near 25 percent unemployment.

Since being voted to office in general elections in November, Mr. Rajoy has been forced to increase taxes, cut spending and introduce stinging labor reforms in a bid to persuade investors and international authorities that Spain can manage its finances without the need for a full-blown bailout.

Spain’s public finances, however, have been overwhelmed by the cost of rescuing some of its banks and regional governments, many of which have suffered heavy losses in the property sector crash of 2008.

Some observers believe Mr. Rajoy will seek a bailout soon after the elections.


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