Spain’s ruling People’s Party (PP) took a battering in regional and local elections on Sunday after voters punished Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for four years of severe spending cuts and a string of corruption scandals.
In a test of the national mood ahead of general elections expected in November, the PP suffered its worst result in more than 20 years to herald an uncertain era of coalition as new parties rose to fragment the vote.
Spaniards rejected the stability offered by the PP and rival Socialists which have alternated in power since the end of dictatorship 40 years ago and opted for change in the shape of new parties – market-friendly Ciudadanos (‘Citizens’) and anti-austerity Podemos (‘We Can’).
Rajoy’s future looked bleak as his strategy to bet on an accelerating economic rebound to win a second term later this year was seriously undermined by his party’s poor showing.
“It’s a drubbing for the PP. The fear factor did not come into play and people voted for Podemos and Ciudadanos,” said Jose Pablo Ferrandiz of leading pollster Metroscopia.