Spain's youth face high levels of unemployment, an issue that has become central to election campaigns. Natasha Howitt reports.
On the streets of Spain's capital Madrid, a group of young Flamenco dancers and singers begins to draw a crowd. They are an example of Spain's struggling youth who are relying on creativity and persistence to make a living. Spain's unemployment rate is the second highest in Europe. And the youth are bearing the brunt of it - the most recent national figures show a staggering 46.5 percent of Spain's under-25s are jobless. Emigration has reached record highs. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) GUITAR PLAYER, LUIS GALLEGO, SAYING: "A few years ago, the story sold to us was that we should study and then we would get a well-paid, dignified job. But we've seen that that was a lie. I did a professional course and a degree but we're not paid well anywhere. It's very hard to get a job because they require experience but without a job you can't gain that experience. Performance art on the street is an alternative way of earning a living, of looking for an opportunity in a different way, because there is no other alternative even if you studied for a career. This is one of the consequences of the crisis, the famous crisis." Meanwhile candidates have held their final campaign rallies ahead of a Sunday nationwide election. Central to those campaigns has been the issue of unemployment. The four main candidates have been trying to woo voters with job promises. But the election is the most uncertain in 40 years. Though the ruling party is expected to win, polls suggest they may be short of a majority. Newcomers are also posed for big gains. Spain's prime minister said he would consider a cross-party pact for a stable administration. But main opposition parties have come out against joining a coalition with the governing People's Party. This points to a stalemate - one that could disrupt an economic reform programme that has helped pull Spain out of recession, and make inroads into the high unemployment rate.