The reign in Spain…

… comes to an end for the Socialists:

Spain’s ruling Socialists reeled on Monday from stinging losses in local elections and now have to balance voter anger over high unemployment and investor demands for austerity measures.

A week of protests by Spaniards fed up with the stagnant economy and the EU’s highest jobless rate preceded Sunday’s elections, which left the Socialists out of power in most of the country’s cities and almost all of its 17 autonomous regions.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Sunday night conceded the Socialists (PSOE) had lost heavily but said he planned to stay on to the end of his term in March next year.

The centre-right opposition Popular Party (PP) has called for the Socialists to resign several times in recent months, but leader Mariano Rajoy did not call for early elections at a victory rally on Sunday night.

The Socialists meanwhile have to choose a successor to Zapatero, who has said he will not run for a third term. Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba and Defence Minister Carme Chacon are both contenders.

Analysts say Zapatero’s staying on could give the economy more time to pick up and boost the Socialists’ chances to win again or at least to limit PP gains.

“They’re waiting for the rain to stop. If the economy improves in the third quarter and unemployment also improves, they can say it’s because of their economic reforms,” said Antonio Barroso, analyst with Eurasiagroup consulting firm, who also sees Zapatero remaining in office until March.

Yet another failed Socialist experiment in Europe.  Might we have ears to hear here.

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