Spain's main opposition Popular Party secured a landslide win in a regional election in Andalusia on Sunday, dealing a blow to Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez ahead of a national vote expected at the end of 2023.
The conservative Popular Party (PP) won 58 seats in the 109-seat Andalusian regional parliament, which will allow it to govern alone in Spain's most populous region, near final results showed.
That is more than double the 26 seats it won in the last election in 2018 when it ousted the Socialists from office from the southern region, a longtime stronghold for the party.
The Socialists captured 30 seats, its worst ever result in the region which is home to some 8.5 million people -- almost a fifth of Spain's population.
That is down from 33 in the last election in 2018 when they were ousted from power in the region by the PP in the wake of a scandal over the misuse of public funds.
The Socialists had governed Andalusia without interruption since 1982 when the region government was established.
"This victory is that of moderation and of another way of doing politics," said the PP's number two, Cuca Gamarra.
This is the Socialists' third consecutive regional election loss to the PP after votes in Madrid in May 2021 and Castilla y Leon in February.
Sanchez's leftist coalition government has been struggling to deal with the economic fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has fuelled inflation worldwide, especially through increasing energy prices.