(AA) – Spain’s ruling Popular Party suffered a dramatic loss in Sunday’s regional elections in Andalusia, which saw an overall win for the opposition Socialists and gains for the radical anti-austerity Podemos party.
The Socialists won 47 seats out of 109 in the regional parliament; Andalusia is the most populated and second-largest autonomous area of Spain.
According to official results, the Popular Party came second with 33 seats – a huge fall from their 2012 tally of 50.
Podemos, which observers have compared to Greece’s anti-austerity Syriza movement, took 15 seats. The center-right Ciudadanos [Citizens] party won nine seats and the United Left secured five.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party suffered a great loss in the regional fight. Juan Manuel Moreno, PP Andalusian branch leader, tweeted after the results: “Thanks to Andalusians who have trusted us. It is not the result we expected but we will continue working for change.”
After six years of economic crisis and stagnation in Spain “change” was the slogan of most political parties during the campaign. Andalusia’s unemployment rate is among the highest in Europe.
The results did not differ from opinion polls published earlier which claimed that the Socialist Party would win.
Sunday’s contest came less than a year before Spain’s general election which is to take place November.