THE Spanish prime minister has been punched in the head by a disgruntled attacker who managed to get close to him.
The unidentified assailant was standing next to the politician as he spoke to a crowd before pulling his arm back and slamming a left hook into his cheek.
Video footage captured Mariano Rajoy – who was making a campaign appearance – falling towards the ground from the impact of the devastating blow before being caught by people around him.
The 17-year-old attacker was detained by security guards before being hauled away in handcuffs while raising his hands in the air with his thumbs up.
He allegedly said: “I’m glad I did it.”
Mr Rajoy’s face reportedly appeared bruised after the attack but he did not seem seriously injured.
The assault took place in front of a church in the northern city of Pontevedra in Galicia, where Mr Rajoy grew up.
The 60-year-old prime minister later made a campaign appearance in the city of A Coruna.
Spain’s development minister Ana Pastor confirmed the assault in a tweet.
She said: “I have no words to express my outrage at the attack @marianorajoy has been a victim of this evening on the streets of Pontevedra.”
Pedro Sanchez, leader of the opposition Socialists party, also offered his support.
He said: “I want to condemn the intolerable aggression Mariano Rajoy has suffered.”Violence is never justified.”
The ruling People’s Party is expected to win the election – despite presiding over one of the country’s worst economic slumps in decades.
But it may fall short of the parliamentary majority it has enjoyed since 2011.
Spain has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the European Union, with almost half of those under 25 unable to find work.