MADRID: Spanish inflation slowed in May due mainly to lower fuel costs, preliminary data showed Tuesday, boosting the government ahead of an early general election in July. Inflation reached 3.2 percent year-on-year in May, down from 4.1 percent in April and 3.3 percent in March, according to INE, the national statistics institute. The drop was mainly due to lower fuel prices and a more moderate rise in the price of food, INE said in a statement. Core inflation, which strips out volatile food and energy, fell for the third consecutive month to 6.1 percent year-on-year, down from the 6.6 percent recorded in April.

“We see that falling energy and food inflation is also starting to spill over into other parts of the economy,” ING economist Wouter Thierie wrote in a research note. “Although inflationary pressures are still very high, deflationary pressures are mounting,” he added. The latest inflation figures come a day after Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez unexpectedly called a snap election for July 23 after his Socialist party suffered a drubbing by the right in weekend local and regional polls.

His leftist coalition government has implemented a series of measures to bring down inflation in Spain which hit a record 10.8 percent in July. It slashed the value-added tax on essential foods such as bread, milk, fruit and vegetables, and introduced free rail travel passes. “Social democratic measures work and benefit the social majority of this country. That is what the far right can’t stand,” Sanchez tweeted in a reference to the fierce opposition to his government from far-right party Vox.

Spain’s inflation rate of 3.2 percent in May is one of the lowest in the euro-zone, where it averaged 7.0 percent in April, the last month for which figures are available. Polls suggest the main opposition conservative Popular Party will win the next general election but will need the support of Vox to form a working majority in parliament. The PP won the largest number of votes in Sunday’s local elections and seized six regions that had been led by the Socialists. Vox also made gains. — AFP