Spain's ruling Socialists were ousted from power in Galicia and trailed the incumbent party in the Basque Country in regional elections seen as the first test of voter sentiment since the country plunged into recession.
In northwestern Galicia, the Socialist leader of the regional government, Emilio Perez Torino, conceded defeat to the conservative opposition Popular Party, which won a majority of 39 seats in the 75-seat regional assembly, yesterday.
The leader of the PP at the national level, Mariano Rajoy, had campaigned hard in his native Galicia with a victory in the regional polls seen as throwing him a lifeline in his battle to stay at the helm of the party.
In the separatist-minded Basque Country on the border with France, the Socialists of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had been looking to oust the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), which has ruled the region since 1980.
The PNV captured 30 seats in the 75-seat Basque regional assembly and the Socialists 24, up from 18 in the outgoing parliament, according to final results. To secure an absolute majority, 38 seats are required.
But the moderate nationalist PNV would struggle to form a majority coalition as the three other smaller nationalist parties in the race won a combined seven seats.