Spain's ruling Socialists crushed in polls

Spain's ruling Socialists suffered a crushing defeat to conservatives in municipal and regional elections Sunday, losing even historic strongholds against a backdrop of economic crisis and unprecedented street sit-ins by Spaniards furious with what they see as selfish and corrupt politicians.

With more than 90 percent of the municipal votes counted, the opposition Popular Party had an advantage of 10 percentage points and more than two million votes — compared to less than a point and 150,000 votes in the last such vote in 2007.

A sea of jubilant supporters waving blue and white Popular Party flags gathered outside party headquarters as the final votes were counted. Partial or complete results showed that the party also won virtually all of the 13 regional government that were up for grabs.

The results put the Popular Party in an even stronger position to win general elections due in about a year.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

MADRID (AP) — Spain's ruling Socialist party has suffered a bruising defeat to conservatives in the municipal leg of elections and looked headed to suffer big losses in regional government races as well.

Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba congratulated the conservative opposition Popular Party for its "win by an ample margin" in the local elections held nationwide.

The ministry website said that with 91 percent of the votes counted in the nationwide municipal vote, the Popular Party had almost a 10 percentage point margin of victory.

The vote came against a backdrop of economic crisis and unprecedented sit-ins and demonstrations by Spaniards disgusted by the government's handling of the crisis and the political establishment in general.