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Spain's Mainstream Political Parties Suffer Setbacks in Local Elections

  • VOA News

People attend a speech by Pablo Iglesias, leader of the Podemos (We Can) party celebrating the party results after the elections and in support of local candidate for Ahora Madrid (Madrid Now) party in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, May 24, 2015.

People attend a speech by Pablo Iglesias, leader of the Podemos (We Can) party celebrating the party results after the elections and in support of local candidate for Ahora Madrid (Madrid Now) party in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, May 24, 2015.

Spain's mainstream political parties were battered in local and regional elections Sunday, as voters chafing under harsh austerity policies, high unemployment and corruption scandals turned against ruling conservatives and opposition socialists.

As vote counting continued early Monday, the two mainstream parties were shown carrying 52 percent of the nationwide vote, with vote counting about 90 percent complete. Conservatives and socialists pulled about 65 percent of the nationwide vote four years ago.

The jubilant leader of the upstart anti-austerity party Podemos described the incomplete returns as "the end of bipartisan politics in Spain," which he said "points directly to change." Pablo Iglesias, speaking to reporters, also called that change "irreversible" and said his party's next challenge is to win general elections later this year.

In Madrid, where a ruling People's Party mayor has served since 1991, Prime Minister Rajoy's candidates were shown late Sunday in a close race with a leftist platform backed by Podemos.

Control of more than 8,000 Spanish town halls and 13 of 17 regional parliaments were decided Sunday, and analysts say final results will serve as a barometer for national elections set for November.

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