Friday, May 18, 2007

How To Vote in Spain

There’s a certain amount of people (I almost wrote ‘a lot’) who don’t want to vote in these local elections on May 27th - and probably some who would like to vote, but for none of the parties available.

However, there is an increasingly large number who do intend to vote and this is directed to them.

In Spain you vote for a candidacy, a list of names which make up the local party proposal. The names, listed on the ‘papeleta’ which forms your vote, are, in order of prominence, the proposed candidates for the town hall.

This is an easy, simple and generally democratic way of voting and putting into office the people you trust.

But, as in everything, there are a few catches.

The list of names for the party you vote for is the names, in order, of the candidates from that party. The first hundred or two or five hundred votes – depending on the size of the town and its electorate – will go to the first name on the list, ensuring his place as a concejal. The next number of votes gets the second name in and so on. If you are voting for a particular candidate – a friend of yours or a ‘likely looking chap’ or perhaps even the Party’s ‘token Englishman’, then you had better hope that his name is at the top of the list, because that’s where your vote is going.

Some parties hand out little gifts, lighters or pens or a glass of wine. They may well hand out copies of their papeleta perhaps with the special voting envelope. That’s fine, but don’t be taken in by those few ‘bad-pennies’ who hand out bigger presents. Nothing is free in politics and it is said by the Spanish that only corrupt people vote for corrupt parties and the trick is to make sure that there are more honest voters than corrupt ones.

You can vote by going to the Correos. If you have your vote ready and sealed in the special envelope, then, with your photographic ID, you can vote. Otherwise, slightly more complicated, you can ask to vote by Correos at the post office, receive all of the different papeletas by registered post and return to any post office with your vote (however, only in Spain) before May 23rd.

Most people, however, like to go to the polling station.

The voting process is simple. You go to the polling station (usually the school – in Mojácar it’s the village school up by the old football field at the back of Mojácar pueblo – you can drive up the back road as if to the market). You take your residence card or your passport or any legal ID which shows your photograph. You check your voting table (there are people to help you). You go behind the curtain and choose one paper from the alternatives (each ‘papeleta’ or list will be in a neat pile in the voting booth). You seal your unmarked vote in an envelope and you deposit it in the ballot box.

At the end of the day, the votes are counted and the council seats are apportioned to the parties according to the numerical results.

A town, they say, gets the politicians it deserves. It must be worth everyone’s time to make sure that the best people possible will be asked to serve their community for the next four years.

1 comment:

El Casareño Inglés said...

Thank you for the information. That explains why all the big parties have sent round their party lists to our house, complete with envelopes.

One wonders how many of the locals are deceived in this way.