Unlike in England, where first past the post wins, Spain’s voting system is based on proportional representation. Also, unlike in England, turn out for local elections is usually high e.g. four years ago the turn out in Bigastro was apparently 92%.
Each town council has a certain number of council positions according to the size of the population. In Bigastro there are 13 council positions (NB the number is always odd to prevent stalemates). Each position, from one to thirteen has a certain number of votes attached to it. So the party that wins the most votes gets the prime position, the mayor, and then the number of votes carries on down the list and the council positions are divided up between the various parties who were voted for.
So each party numbers their candidates in ascending order with a few reserves. A recent law states that 40% of the candidates must be female. As with all positive discrimination laws, people find ways around it so some parties put candidates forward who have no intention of taking a seat on the council, hence the reserves.
Residents of Bigastro who registered to vote in good time will by now have a card which tells them where they are to cast their vote.
To vote you need to take some form of photographic identification along with you i.e. a passport, driver’s licence or residencia card. Inside the polling station there will be a table piled high with voting slips for each party. This year there will be two different coloured slips beige/orange slips for the Valencian regional election and white ones for the local election.
Each voting slip has a particular party logo on it and a list of candidates from that party. So you need to select the appropriate slips for the party you are voting for i.e. in Bigastro PP, PSOE or Verde
It is very important not to mark the voting slip because a marked slip is a spoiled vote. When counting takes place all the voting slips are checked and political party representatives who are present will make sure any opposing votes that are marked are discarded.
Once you have the right slips, place them in one the envelopes provided i.e. white for the local election and beige for the regional election. You then go to the desk, show your identification and your electoral card, get checked off the list and then place your voting slips, inside their envelopes, into the clear, Perspex, ballot boxes. That is it!
The PP party has already delivered voting slips in envelopes to our estate so if you want to vote for them just take the envelopes down to the polling station with the slips already inside. They have also delivered a copy of their manifesto translated into English to us. Whether the other two parties will do the same is hard to say.
Once all the voting has taken place and the polling stations have closed, then counting will begin. Once the result is known then proportionally the council seats will be divided up between the various political parties.The one with the most seats on the council will have their number one candidate proclaimed as mayor.
Four years ago the election in Bigastro was a close run thing (85 votes separated the two main parties). The PSOE party got seven seats and the PP six so the current Mayor (Jose Joaquin Moya Esquiva) represents the PSOE. His rival in the PP party for this election is Aurelio Murcia González who of course built our houses and lives on our estate.