Spain’s opposition conservatives routed the country’s ruling socialists in local and regional elections.
Voters enduring the highest unemployment rate in the European Union punished the government for its handling of the financial crisis.
It was the socialists’ worst showing in municipal elections since Spain returned to democracy in 1978 after General Franco’s dictatorship.
The tide turned from Socialist red to Popular Party blue – opening up gap of around 10 per cent.
Although the prime minister has been admired abroad for his tough measures to deal with the economic crisis, the electorate at home turned the regional map blue as well.
All major cities are now out of socialist hands, even losing Seville and Barcelona. They had held Spain’s second city in Catalonia for 32 years.
There is a general election scheduled in Spain for next March.
If these results are reproduced in ten months, the socialists will be heading out of the national office they have held since 2004.