Late last week gave us a taste of things to come when the British local elections revealed that the ruling Tories and their austerity program took a good thrashing.

But the weekend revealed more discontent, it was relatively close, but one of the parents of Europe’s austerity measures Nicholas Sarkozy went down to defeat to Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande. Sarkozy becomes the first French President to lose an election in more than three decades. Hollande becomes the first Socialist President in 17 years.

And in the land where austerity has bitten the deepest, Greece, the ruling party lost so many votes they may not be able to hold their coalition together. Although the fact that they may be able to do so, despite Greece’s disastrous economy, makes you wonder how ineffective the opposition manages to be.

But in some places the governments really know how to make sure democracy doesn’t break out too strongly.

Russian riot police beat protesters about the head with batons and detained more than 400 on Sunday after clashes broke out at a Moscow rally by thousands of people against Vladimir Putin on the eve of his return to the presidency.

Opposition leaders Alexei Navalny, Boris Nemtsov and Sergei Udaltsov were among those detained during violence that showed the depth of divisions and tensions in Russia as the former KGB spy starts his six-year third term on Monday.

That’s another kind of austerity altogether.