Granada in vote rig storm in lead up to local elections in Spain

LAST UPDATED: 27 May, 2007 @ 19:19
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Thirty five councils in Granada under suspicion of census fraud

ACCUSATION and counter-accusation have been flying between two of the province’s main political parties after both the PSOE and Partido Popular accused one another of census fraud.
The conservative Partido Popular (PP), which currently controls the city of Granada, claims there is a suspicious increase in numbers in the electoral register of almost 30 PSOE-run councils.
The PSOE – the socialist party that runs the Diputacion de Granada provincial council – hit back by claiming the growth in resident numbers in the tourist and health resort of Lanjarón (PP) ahead of the May 27 local elections as “sinister.”

“Gun in chest”

Famous for its bottled spring water sold throughout Spain, Lanjarón’s population suspiciously grew by 109 in the final three days of January this year, according to one of the PSOE candidates for town’s mayoralty – January 31 is the deadline to register on a municipality’s census to vote in coming elections.

“Most of these people are friends of the mayor or his family and do not even live in the town,” said Mariano Ruiz Rodríguez, who claims to have asked to see the application forms of the new registrations in the town without success.

“Some of these people may have registered in the town in good faith but the majority? I do not recognise their names and in Lanjarón everybody knows everyone else.”
Secretary of the provincial office of the socialist party Juan Manuel Fernández called the suspicious registrations a “sinister manoeuvre to maintain power in the town” and asked the courts to investigate.

Mayor José Rubio denied any wrongdoing and even threatened to investigate the validity of the recent foreign registrations on Lanjarón’s electoral register.

“I have never stuck a gun in anyone’s chest and asked them to register in the town. The PSOE is nervous because the party knows leadership of the provincial council is at risk.

“I could investigate the almost 60 foreigners who have registered here recently, many of whom have only plots of land for tool sheds.

“If the Junta Electoral wants to investigate, let them,” he said defiantly.

Press conference

The secretary of the PP in Granada used a press conference the day following the Lanjarón allegations to ask the INE national statistics office and Junta Electoral watchdog to investigate socialist census fraud in the province.

Antonio Ayllon claims 29 of the 35 municipalities with a suspicious increase in electoral roll numbers are governed by the PSOE.

“The socialists are using Lanjarón as a smoke screen to hide their own problems,” he said. Señor Ayllon went on to single out the town of Guadix as an example of PSOE census fraud.

“The town’s electoral roll grew by 127 for the Andalucía statute votes on February 18 this year.”

Among the PSOE-governed municipalities the PP suspects of census fraud are: Atarfe (with 230 new registrations), Baza (19), Motril (121) and Vélez de Benaudalla (17).

The conservative group claims four Izquierda Union councils and two independent municipalities in the province are also guilty of fraud.

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