Spanish elections: Podemos and Cuidadanos gain control of Barcelona and major regional strongholds

The ruling party faces an electoral drubbing

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The Independent Online

Alternative parties have made huge gains in the Spanish local elections at the expense of the ruling party.

Anti-corruption left-wing party, Podemos (We Can) and pro-business Cuidadanos have made huge gains across the country with the ruling party’s, People’s Party, receiving the lowest share of the vote in a regional election for 20 years.

The PP won the biggest share of the vote overall, 27 per cent, but now faces entering into power sharing deals with smaller, more radical parties in many of its major strongholds.

The PP and its rivals the Socialist party have alternated power since the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1975. This is the first time the Spanish electorate-tired of years of high unemployment, low growth and austerity policies- have rejected the two main parties and opted for untested minority parties.

Podemos, which was only formed just over a year ago, has seized control of Barcelona in a power sharing deal with another party after gaining the highest number of votes there. The party, lead by housing activist Ada Colau, beat separatist parties such as Convergencia i Unio (CiU) and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) in a setback for the movement.

Speaking to the El Pais newspaper, Colau said: "I want to be a mayor at the service of the people, so there will never again be first-class citizens and second-class citizens in this town."

Across the country, the two main parties, are most likely to have to negotiate with minority parties in 13 of the 17 regions which voted yesterday.

The PP could even lose control of their stronghold in Madrid. The party narrowly came top in the poll but Podemos could team up with the Socialists to seize power of the capital’s administration.

Jose Pablo Ferrandiz of leading polling company, Metroscopia, told Reuters: "It's a drubbing for the PP. The fear factor did not come into play and people voted for Podemos and Ciudadanos."

"I used to vote for the PP but they are burnt out, they have been in power for too long. It's time to clean the slate," said Nacho, a 56-year-old doctor in Valencia who voted for Ciudadanos.

It comes a huge blow to the PP’s leader Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy ahead of the national elections in November. His strategy of bolstering economic growth in time for the election looks likely to have failed based on his party’s poor showing.

The Spanish economy has now officially come out of recession.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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