Where and what now for the Socialists are the questions most of the Spanish press are asking about the country’s ruling party after its drubbing in regional and local elections.
Defeat was widely predicted after a week of protests by people fed up with the stagnant economy and a chronic lack of jobs.
Although millions stayed away from the polls, the centre-right opposition Popular Party won its best result in local elections since Spain returned to democracy in 1978.
Regionally, the PP almost swept the board while locally, the opposition performed so well they left the Socialists without a single important mayor’s office.
On Sunday night, Prime Minister
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero recognised the worse than expected result had left him and his party on the ropes, but said he planned to stay on until the end of his term in March 2012.
But PP leader Mariano Rajoy did not call for early elections at a victory rally on Sunday, even though he is now widely seen as the man destined to become Spain’s next prime minister.