David Cameron's dream of elected mayors in Britain's major cities looks to be in tatters after the the idea was rejected in referendums.
Manchester, Nottingham and Coventry have voted No, and there are signs that Birmingham and others have also dismissed the plan.
The results are embarrassing for the Prime Minister, who had thrown his weight firmly behind the changes in a series of speeches and interviews.
Mr Cameron had attempted to use the example of London Mayor Boris Johnson, saying he wanted a "Boris in every city".
However, critics argued that the proposals were unnecessary and would add another expensive layer of bureaucracy.
Manchester voted against by a margin of 53.24% to 46.76%, and Nottingham by 57.5% to 42.5%. Both cities had a low turnout of 24%.
The outcome in Coventry was more resounding, with just 36.42% backing the change and 63.58% opposing it.
Nottingham City Council's Labour Leader, Jon Collins, said:
This was a referendum imposed on us by the Coalition Government which the majority of local people clearly did not agree with.
I am pleased with this outcome because an elected mayor would have been expensive and unnecessary.
This outcome shows that local people recognise we have a system in Nottingham which is working well for them and the city.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps defended the mayoral referendums, telling Sky News:
People should have the right to decide how they are governed in their local area.
The whole point is to give people a say. No-one is forcing mayors on anyone.
Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington Jack Dromey admitted the city's voters were likely to have rejected an elected mayor.
"The straws in the wind are that it is likely to be a No vote, but we will see," he said.