THE outcome of a local election result had to be decided by a toss of a coin after the two main candidates achieved the exact same number of votes.
Both Salvador Rodríguez of the conservative Partido Popular (PP) and PSOE candidate José Daniel Vigil received 66 votes in their bid to become mayor of the small mountain village of Carataunas, near Granada.
And to decide the final outcome of May 27’s municipal elections, fate in the shape of a humble 20-centimo coin had the final say.
Tails never fails
Neither men was in attendance at the bizarre political ceremony to decide who would become village mayor in an Órgiva courtroom on June 1. Milk delivery man Rodriguez chose to spend the morning shopping in nearby Granada, while the socialist candidate chose to walk in the mountains with his herd of goats.
Instead, the two mayors-elect were represented by regional party top brass: Alpujarra PP leader Cecilio Martín for Rodríguez and his PSOE counterpart José Aguado for Vigil.
It was up to these representatives to decide who would lead the council of the village of 220 residents.
“Heads,” Aguado called first; “tails,” said Martín.
Then, the local chief of the Junta Electoral Avaro Garnica stepped forward, with the political destiny of Carataunas in his hands in the shape of the 20-centimo coin.
Flanked on either side by Martín and Aguado, Garnica tossed the coin and caught it in mid-air.
“Tails,” he called and Salvador Rodríguez was pronounced leader of the Carataunas town hall for four years more.
And it is in this mid-flight catch that a 40-strong group of residents has protested the decision. The angry locals have called on the judges in Órgiva to order a re-toss.
“To decide anything in this manner, the coin should be tossed and allowed to fall to the ground in full view of all.
“The procedure should be free of all manipulation,” the group claimed in an open letter.
Briton Fiona Primarolo, who lives in the Padre Eterno area of the village, told the Olive Press how the angry residents decided to launch their appeal after viewing a video of the event.
“The coin was thrown into the air and caught without it spinning.
“If a coin toss is how an election is ultimately to be decided, we have to abide by the decision.
“We are only asking it is done properly,” she said.
However, the Olive Press has learnt judges are unlikely to accept any appeal, allowing Salvador Rodríguez – who has been council leader of the village of 220 since 1995 – to reclaim his position as mayor.
This is not the first time a non-conventional method has been chosen to decide who becomes mayor in Spain: in 1995, the mayoralty of nearby Güejar Sierra was decided by lottery after the two main candidates received an equal number of votes.