Ada Colau burst onto the political scene as an indignada—one of the thousands of young Spaniards who have filled public squares in recent years to protest corruption and economic austerity. Now she’ll be called Her Excellency the Mayor. Ms. Colau’s narrow victory here over the incumbent reflected the public mood across Spain as voters in municipal and regional elections Sunday vented their anger at the establishment by backing upstarts. “This was the victory of David over Goliath,” Ms. Colau said after the win by her leftist coalition, supported by the year-old Podemos party.
Strong showings by Podemos and another emerging party, the center-right Ciudadanos, weakened or broke the grip of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party on 10 of the country’s 17 regions and some of its largest cities. That raised the prospect that voters could thwart his re-election bid later this year, unseating a government widely regarded in Europe as a paragon of fiscal restraint.
Returns gave Mr. Rajoy’s party the most total votes in the 8,116 municipal races but its share fell 10 percentage points from its 37% in elections four years ago, when it swept to power.
The Socialist Party, which together with its conservative rival has dominated Spanish politics for 33 years, clung to its position as the leading opposition force but saw its share of the nationwide vote drop two percentage points, to 25%.