The governing Socialist Party suffered heavy losses on Sunday in Spanish regional and municipal elections. Tens of thousands of Spaniards calling themselves the “indignant” said they would pursue their protests to force an overhaul of the country’s political system.
Conceding defeat on Sunday night, Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero said that his Socialist Party had been understandably punished by voters for overseeing an economic crisis that had left Spain with a 21 percent jobless rate, more than twice the European average.
“These results are very clearly related to the effects of the economic crisis that we have been suffering for almost three years,” Mr. Zapatero said in a televised address. “Almost two million jobs have been destroyed and I know that a lot of Spaniards are facing serious problems. Today, without a doubt, they have expressed their discomfort.”
The Popular Party won 37.6 percent of the votes on Sunday, compared with 27.8 percent for the Socialists, according to preliminary results released at midnight with 98 percent of the votes counted. Despite popular discontent with established parties, turnout rose to 66 percent from 63 percent four years earlier.
|The Peasants are Revolting|
The Socialists lost control in Barcelona and Seville, two of the nation’s largest cities.
The demonstrators, who insist that they have no party affiliation, want a more representative democratic system and are demanding an end to political corruption. Their anger toward established parties has been fueled by the debt crisis and the surge in joblessness, but their grievances also include a call for a cut in military spending, the closing of nuclear power plants and the end of some laws, like recent legislation aimed at punishing digital piracy.
“If you had told me a few months ago that thousands of people would take to the streets to complain about our political system,” said one protester, María Subinas, “I would have found it hard to believe, because it looked like we were an apathetic generation that was incapable of responding to a crisis even when it was destroying our jobs like a tsunami.”
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