28 May, 2023 @ 17:54
2 mins read

Spaniards brave the rain to vote in 2023 regional and local elections

Barcelona mayor Ada Colau casts her vote
Cordon Press

MILLIONS OF SPANIARDS braved rain showers to keep their date with the polling booths on Sunday, as elections were held in 12 of the country’s 17 regions (Valencia, Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha, the Canary Islands, Cantabria, La Rioja, the Balearic Islands, Asturias, Navarre, Murcia, Aragon and Extremadura) and more than 8,000 local councils in the country’s towns and cities. 

The results of today’s votes will serve as an indicator of what is likely to happen at the end of the year, when a general election will be held as the four years of the Socialist Party-Unidas Podemos coalition government reach their end. 

Opinion polls ahead of today’s elections suggest that the conservative Popular Party will fare well, potentially paving the way for the main opposition group to form a government with far-right Vox after a likely inconclusive general election in December. 

By 2pm, the participation in the elections stood at 37%, which is a 1.6-point increase for the same time at the last polls, held in 2019. 

The campaign ahead of today’s polls has been an unusual one. There have been a series of voter-fraud scandals, including the discovery of a network in the North African city of Melilla that was buying up postal votes, and a similar scandal involving the Socialists in Mojacar (Almeria)

In Macarena, Granada province, three Socialist councillors were implicated in the kidnap of a colleague; while in Madrid, a candidate for the far-right Vox party was arrested on accusations of trafficking cocaine. 

And election day itself has not been without its anecdotes. When Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez went to cast his vote in Madrid, he was greeted with cries of ‘Presidente, presidente!’ by some members of the public, while others heckled him. Speaking to reporters, the Socialist Party leader bemoaned the ‘social tension’ and ‘intolerance’ of the elections, and called on the public to be positive when voting. 

In the municipality of Sueca, in Valencia region, voting had to be temporarily halted after defective voting slips were discovered. Different party lists had been printed on each side of the paper, meaning that if they had been used for someone’s vote they would have counted as a spoiled ballot. Once the defective slips were found and removed, the electoral process was resumed.

Oscar Puente, the Socialist Party candidate running for reelection as mayor of Valladolid, managed to leave his wallet at home and was unable to present his Spanish ID card – a necessary step to be able to vote. Fortunately someone was able to bring it to him so that he could vote for himself, and his colleague Emilio Garcia Page in the Castilla y Leon regional elections. 

Meanwhile, the candidate for leftist Unidas Podemos in the regional race in Castilla-La Mancha, Jose Luis Garcia Garzon, cast a vote for himself at 9.30am on Sunday. But unfortunately he forgot to deposit the envelope for the race for Toledo mayor, where his colleague Txema Fernandez Sanchez is running. 

In Almeria there was a violent incident after two members of the Socialist Party who were supervising proceedings were run over by a man on an electric scooter outside the voting station in the municipality of Adra. According to a police report filed with the Civil Guard, and reported by the Cadena SER radio network, the man on the scooter was wearing a t-shirt with Franco-era symbols on, while he had a picture of the former Spanish dictator attached to the scooter itself. 

In the city of Palencia, Castilla y León region, a 96-year-old man died after casting his vote at around 1.30pm. Police officers who were at the scene tried to revive him but were unable to save his life.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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