Nick Clegg has insisted he will not consider resigning after a dismal showing in local elections, arguing that the Liberal Democrats are "still winning" in their strongholds.
The Deputy Prime Minister conceded that his party had suffered at the hands of a Ukip surge, blaming a "very strong anti-politics feeling" among the public.
But he added: "Actually I think in the areas where we have MPs where we have good organisation on the ground... we are actually doing well."
The Lib Dems are seemingly on track to lose more than 300 councillors, bringing them to their lowest overall numbers for three decades.
The Tories have taken charge of Kingston Council - the back yard of Energy Secretary Ed Davey - and they have lost control in Portsmouth following gains by Nigel Farage's party.
A rare glimmer of good news came in Eastleigh, where the Lib Dems have tightened their grip on the local authority after successfully defending the parliamentary seat in a by-election last year.
Mr Clegg told reporters it was "never easy" seeing "dedicated, hard-working" councillors kicked out.
But he said he would "absolutely not" resign, and insisted the Lib Dems were still succeeding where they focused on their achievements in coalition.
"Based on the results which have come in so far, it has obviously been a mixed result, a mixed night for my party, for the Liberal Democrats and the other mainstream parties," Mr Clegg said.
"We will see what the further results today, what story they tell. But so far what I have seen is that where we can work really hard to tell our side of the story, we can win."
He added: "I certainly accept that there is a very strong anti-politics mood around, not only in our country but in many other parts of Europe as well. I think you will see that in European elections in the days to come...
"There is a very strong mood of restlessness and dissatisfaction with mainstream politics and that is reflected in the results for all mainstream parties, including the Lib Dems."
He urged activists to highlight the policies the Lib Dems had brought to the Coalition, such as the pupil premium and raised income tax threshold.
"Where we do that, in those places where we are strong, we're still winning," he added.