Proving anti-austerity sentiment is sweeping across southern Europe, the leftist Podemos party has made impressive inroads in Spanish elections. While in France, President Hollande's socialist party was beaten in a first round of local elections. Katie Gregory looks at what the results mean for the euro zone.
They didn't win, but that didn't matter... for a party only a year old - this was a big moment. Spain's leftist, anti-austerity Podemos party stole 15 seats in the Andalusian elections. Teresa Rodriguez is the party's leader in the region. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ANTI-AUSTERITY PARTY PODEMOS LEADER IN ANDALUSIA, TERESA RODRIGUEZ, SAYING: "We are the protagonists of the change, of the creation of new alternatives: new down to earth alternatives that will meet the urgent needs of the majority of Andalusians." Andalusia is home to a fifth of the population. And the vote was a blow to both dominant parties in Spain, particularly the ruling centre-right PP which came second to the Socialists. They're now trying to form a coalition With national elections looming later this year, uncertainty is virtually guaranteed. And that makes many nervous. Protests like this one at the weekend have fuelled Podemos popularity. And one in four remain unemployed even though Spain's economy is now one of the fastest growing in Europe. Jane Foley is from Rabobank. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RABOBANK, SENIOR FX STRATEGIST, JANE FOLEY, SAYING: "Political cracks I think within Europe are very much close to the headlines, for a number of countries. But I think it's also fair to say that quantitative easing and the effects of cheap money are papering over a lot of these cracks, and they perhaps are likely to for the rest of the year." In a first round of local elections in France, President Hollande's socialist party took a hit. He's been slow to introduce economic reforms, helping former President Nicolas Sarkozy's new look UMP party to take the lead. Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front party came second with 26% of the vote. (SOUNDBITE) (French) NATIONAL FRONT LEADER, MARINE LE PEN, SAYING: "This massive vote for National Front, which is taking root election after election, shows that French want to retrieve their freedom and that a large number of our compatriots believe another way is possible." Hollande can take a little comfort from the fact that Le Pen didn't do as well as some predicted. But his party is expected to take another hit in a second round of elections this Sunday.