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Spain votes again: 'Mega-election' that comes once every 20 years
By thinkSPAIN Team Sun, May 26, 2019
RESIDENTS in Spain are due to cast their ballots again today (Sunday) in a multiple election of the type that only crops up once every 20 years: the local and regional polls being held at the same time as the European Parliamentary vote.
The latter is every five years, and this time around, a total of 37,272,179 people in or from Spain are eligible to vote: 34,803,653 Spaniards living in the country, 2,103,216 Spanish people who live abroad and opted to vote for candidates representing their nation of origin rather than of residence; and 365,310 Europeans living in Spain.
Of these, nearly half are Romanian or British – even if Brexit had gone ahead on the planned date of March 29 or the initial extension of April 12, Brits may still have been voting for their Spanish MEPs due to the tightness of the deadline, as first-time voters had to register by January.
British nationals living in Spain were already going to be allowed to vote in the local council elections, since the country's president, Pedro Sánchez, had struck a deal with the UK allowing them to do so – the first of the 27 remaining member States to protect Britons' vote.
But only Spanish nationals are allowed to vote in the regional government elections – as is also the case with the general elections, the most recent of which was held on April 28 this year.
Regional elections have already been held in the Comunidad Valenciana (on April 28) and Andalucía (December 2, 2018), and are not due yet in Galicia, Catalunya or the Basque Country, meaning voting will take place in 12 of Spain's 17 regions, with 16,480,264 eligible to cast their ballots, of whom 966,121 live abroad.
Most of these will be in the Greater Madrid region (307,404) given that the other regions with the highest numbers of émigrés – Galicia (459,034), Andalucía (246,410) and Catalunya (240,597) are not due for an election yet.
For the local council elections, Spaniards resident in Spain, plus foreign residents from either EU nations or from countries with which Spain has a reciprocal agreement are allowed to vote – the latter of whom make up 466,181, to the 34,689,631 Spanish nationals.
Spaniards living abroad are not allowed to vote in local elections, but are able to vote in national and regional elections for life – unlike a small handful of countries on earth, including the Republic of Ireland and Denmark, which stop voting rights for those who have been living away for a set period of time; the UK, for example, does not allow its citizens to vote if they have lived abroad continuously for 15 years or more, although campaigns have been ongoing to restore Brits' 'votes for life', most notably the one led by 96-year-old World War II veteran, Harry Schindler, who lives in Italy.
In the Spanish-owned city-provinces of Ceuta and Melilla on the northern Moroccan coast, 121,916 members of the electorate will be voting today for their 'City Assembly', a combined regional and local election – of these, 114,022 are Spaniards living in Ceuta, Melilla or elsewhere in the country; 7,759 being Spaniards living abroad, and 135 being foreign residents in Ceuta or Melilla and who are permitted to vote in these elections, many of whom will be from Morocco due to the geographical proximity of the North African country.
Slightly more women than men will be voting today – just under 18 million females are eligible, compared with 16.8 million males – and another 1.2 million who celebrated their 18th birthdays since May 2015 will be voting for local councils and regional governments for the first time.
Young adults eligible to cast their ballot for the first time make up 3.19% of the electorate, although the average age range of those permitted to vote is between 40 and 59.
For the local and European elections, Andalucía has the largest electorate – 6.31 million – whilst Catalunya has 5.35 million, Madrid 4.75 million and the Comunidad Valenciana 3.54 million.
Other than Ceuta and Melilla, the regions with the smallest electorates are La Rioja (233,609), Cantabria (462,633) and Navarra (483,767).
Between everyone casting their ballots today, 67,319 local council seats, 8,131 mayors' jobs and 715 regional government MP positions will be up for grabs.
As for the European Parliamentary elections, candidates will be gunning for 54 fixed seats among 27 member States, plus another five will be kept in reserve for UK MEPs until Brexit is finally consummated on October 31 this year.
Polling stations in Spain will be open from 09.00 until 20.00, with European ballot boxes opened first, followed by local council ones and then the regional tables.
Some EU countries have already voted – ballots began being collected from Thursday this week in the UK, but the final count across the continent will not take place until tonight.
In Spain, elections are always held on a Sunday, since practically everyone except those in the emergency services and the catering and hotel industries is off work and will not have to take time out of their day to visit the electoral station.
The results will not start to filter through until after 23.00 when the last of the voting venues in Europe close – the polling stations in Italy will be the latest to shut.
This said, local election results will start to be announced after 21.00 mainland Spain time, since the Canary Island polling stations will still be open until then as the region is an hour behind the rest of the country, currently on British Summer Time (BST) along with the UK, Portugal and Morocco.
With the socialists (PSOE) having won the most seats in the general election – 123 out of 351, although not a full majority – followed by the PP, Ciudadanos and Podemos in that order, polls are predicting they will also do well in the European elections.
Podemos appeared on the scene for the first time in the last European Parliamentary elections in 2014, winning five seats.
Local council results are often difficult to predict, since party colours are less of an indication of policies at town and village level, and independent outfits have always been a much greater feature of the voting panorama than at regional or national level.
Many independent parties running for election locally do not identify as left- or right-wing, but merely focus their manifestos on plans for improving life in their towns.
Coalitions are commonplace after local elections due to the more fragmented nature of results, sometimes with mayors taking it in turns to govern – two taking the hotseat for two years each.
Eligible voters will have received their card through the post, which will confirm their name, address and national identity number and the street address or venue name of their polling station.
They should take this card with them, along with ID showing a photograph and their national identity number.
For Spanish nationals, this is a DNI or national identity card; for non-EU nationals living in Spain, this will be their residence card, and for EU citizens, their green paper NIE number, plus a passport driving licence with a photograph.
They will then be asked to take the slips from the pile from their chosen party and place them in the envelope provided, which should be sealed before being handed back to those on duty at the polling station, who will score their name from the list.
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