Rather than a confirmation of Mariano Rajoy's self-perpetuating austerity policies, this weekend's local elections in Galicia and the Basque Country confirmed the Spaniards' enduring distrust of the Socialists.
The party that ruled Spain for almost eight years during the build-up to its ruinous bank debt-fuelled property bubble saw its share of the vote fall sharply, dropping from 25 seats to 18 in Galicia, and from 25 to 16 in the Basque Country.
The results, amounting to a loss of 330,000 votes, were greeted by calls from some senior figures in the Socialist Party for a moment of "catharsis" and some demanded the head of leader Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba.
For the ruling Popular Party (PP) things went rather better.
In the north-western region of Galicia it increased its absolute majority by three seats to 41 of the 75 in the region's parliament.
Galicia has been controlled by the PP for 24 of the 30 years since Spain's system of post-dictatorship autonomous regional governments was established and the region is closely linked to Rajoy's party, with its founder, the former Franco minister Manuel Fraga, having been its president for 15 years.
However Rajoy was clearly seen as a liability in the election and the local PP leader Nunez Feijoo has remained popular in the region despite austerity measures, possibly because of his efforts to distance himself from the prime minister.
In contrast, in the Basque Country the PP lost three seats to take 10 out of 75.
Bildu, a separatist party previously banned from running by Spain's constitutional court for its association with the armed separatist group Eta, won 21 seats.
The more moderate Basque Nationalist party (PNV) won the greatest number of seats, taking 27 and giving both Basque nationalist parties an absolute majority should they choose to form a coalition.
Despite the relief felt by Rajoy and his ministers at the Galician vote, and the humiliation of the Socialists in both elections, the result was certainly not a green light for their policies of austerity. Even in Galicia they lost 140,000 votes.
Furthermore, there was a fall in turnout of 6.8 per cent in Galicia and 1.2 per cent in the Basque Country.
As well as indicating a growing disaffection with the political system in general, the results show that there is no serious national political opposition to Rajoy.
And in the "autonomous" regions, this is feeding through to advances for nationalist parties.
The Socialists had hoped that the win in March in Andalucia, where the left held on to power, indicated things were turning around after it was thrashed in general elections polls by the right-wing Popular Party last November.
Instead the weekend elections confirm opinion polls indicating that at a national level both the Popular Party and the Socialists remain unpopular.
The Socialists, who were among the first governments in Europe to take the disastrous turn towards austerity, have been lacklustre in opposition since losing power 11 months ago.
Even after this weekend's elections criticisms from within the party were thin on political substance, despite the obvious popularity of coming out fighting against the policies of austerity and huge bailouts for the banks that are so clearly failing.
The party just doesn't sound ready or able to take the "catharsis" demanded by former Socialist housing minister Maria Antonia Trujillo on Monday.
Yet the next electoral test - and likely humiliation - for the Socialists is imminent.
Catalonia, which it ruled together with other parties to its left between 2003 and 2010, is holding elections next month and polls show it garnering just 3 per cent of the vote, down from 18 per cent in 2010.
The right-wing nationalists of Artur Mas are promising a referendum on "self-determination," and on the back of a campaign that brought 1.5 million onto the streets in September, the former PP ally - who shares Rajoy's enthusiasm for brutal austerity that has slashed health and education budgets - is expected to be returned to power.
And what of the radical left, which has been up in the polls at 11-12 per cent for several months?
United Left's surge in Andalucia earlier this year was the real factor behind the victory for the left in the poor but populous southern region.
The Socialists lost seats but United Left's 11 per cent share of the vote gained it enough strength in the regional parliament to form coalition with the Socialists to deprive the PP of power.
And in these elections too, United Left found some reason for some cheer. In the Galician parliament, with 200,000 votes or a 14 per cent share, communist-led United Left and its six-week-old new coalition with the Equo and Ecosocialistas greens and many from the party BNG, which demands more autonomy for Galicia, won nine seats and became the third-largest force. BNG garnered 10.1 per cent in 2010.
The radical formation hopes the success of its Galician Alternative Left (AGE) - based on a strategy of forming links with political parties with similar social justice and green agendas, including forces from the nationalist camp - may be a model for future battles.
This includes Catalonia, where it is set to finish ahead of the Socialists.
As for Rajoy, nervousness about these elections meant he has held back a decision on a troika bailout, which will come, as elsewhere, with more brutal austerity strings attached.
He would be badly mistaken though if he thinks this weekend's polls represent backing for more pain in Spain.
The hunger strikers are suffering from progressive neurodegenerative disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis.
The campaign group co-ordinating the protest has presented a plan to the government called Stay at Home which would assist severely disabled people in their homes with all the support, including tools and equipment, necessary.
It is asking for government funds of €20,000 per year (£16,100) for each family where a seriously ill person resides.
The protest follows sit-ins in between April and July which led the government to allocate €658m (£532m) in the latest budget for disabled people in need of support.
But the deployment of these resources is being frustrated by the lack of a comprehensive long-term care plan to ensure that all people with disabilities have access to appropriate help from cradle to grave, say campaigners.
They argue that fundamental constitutional rights are at stake. Article 32 of the Italian constitution says: "The ?republic? safeguards? health? as ?a? fundamental? right? of ?the ?individual ?and? as ?a? collective ?interest."
The country spends less than any other European country bar Spain on social protection for the disabled.
Communist leader Paolo Ferrero expressed solidarity with the hunger strikers and criticised the unelected government headed by the former Goldman Sachs adviser, saying: "The Monti government, after the cuts already made by Berlusconi, continues to rage against the weakest, striking heavy blows to the welfare state and even going so far as to threaten a tax on the disabled that was withdrawn at the last minute.
"Local authorities are axing services because of cuts in [central government] transfers worth tens of billions of euros."
The cuts come at a time when billions of euros of public money, raised through sharp increases in taxes as well as swingeing cuts to public services, have been allocated to save local and foreign banks despite continuing evidence that they are holding back lending to the real economy.
Disabled rights activists and their radical political allies like the Communist Refoundation party Ferrero heads will be joining yet another mass protest, dubbed No Monti Day on Saturday October 27 to demand a shift in billions of euros of public resources from the bankers and the super-rich to help the growing millions of ordinary Italians facing misery and distress.
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