Spain's Socialists punished in local elections

MADRID - Spain's ruling Socialists suffered a crushing defeat in local elections on Sunday, punished by voters after a week of protests over the EU's highest unemployment level and a stagnant economy.
The Socialists lost municipal strongholds Barcelona and Seville as well as the Castilla-La Mancha region where they have ruled for 28 years, and could end up with clear control of only two or three of Spain's 17 autonomous regions.
The center-right opposition Popular Party, or PP, had a 10 point lead in the aggregate nationwide vote, the worst defeat for the Socialists in municipal polls since Spain returned to democracy in 1978 after the Francisco Franco dictatorship.
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