SPAIN’S governing Socialist party has suffered a crushing defeat in regional and local elections with a landslide victory for the right-wing Partido Popular (PP).
In Andalucía, there was no regional poll, but the local elections saw the PP win in all the provincial capitals, including Sevilla.
This is the very first time the right wing party has taken the largest share of the vote in the region, making it a serious contender to take control of the Junta de Andalucía in nine months time.
Meanwhile in the regional polls nationwide the PP vote grew in most areas, as the left wing vote was split between the IU and PSOE.
Overall, the PP won almost 10 percent more than the Socialists in the popular vote, taking control of regions and towns run by the Socialists since the 1970s.
In particular the PP succeeded in taking control of the key PSOE regions of Castilla-La Mancha and Aragón.
The results reflect widespread discontent with the way José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has handled the economic crisis.
And the Prime Minister was quick to recognise the ‘very clear defeat’ for PSOE.
“We have won many times, and we have known how to win. Now we know how to lose,” he said.
Adding: “The economic crisis destroyed thousands of jobs. It is a crisis that had profound effects on citizens’ morale. I know that many Spaniards suffer great hardship and fear for their futures.
“Today, without doubt, they expressed their discontent.”
Sunday’s elections were preceded by a week of anti-establishment demonstrations across the country, with an estimated 30,000 protesters camping out in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol central square ahead of the vote.
The demonstrators, who are calling for a change to the two party system under the banner ‘Real Democracy Now’, have now vowed to stay on for at least another week.