A total of 34,681,888 million people will have the chance to vote today in the ninth municipal elections to be held in Spain. That is 444,000 more than in 2007 when elections were last held. In total they will elect 8,116 mayors and 68,462 councillors along with representatives in the Autonomous regions.
In the meantime, tens of thousands of demonstrators across Spain continued their sit-ins and other protests against the established political parties yesterday in defiance of a ban against such protests ahead of today’s vote.
Fuelling the demonstrators’ anger is the perceived failure by politicians to alleviate the hardships imposed on a struggling population. But beyond economic complaints, the protesters’ demands also include improving the judiciary, ending political corruption and overhauling Spain’s electoral structure, notably by ending the system in which candidates are selected internally by the parties before an election rather than chosen directly by voters.
The elections today are expected to result in a countrywide sweep by the Popular Party at the expense of the governing Socialists, whose popularity has plummeted because of the economic crisis. The most recent opinion polls suggest that the Socialist Party may lose in regions and municipalities where they have been in power since late 1970s, notably Castilla-La Mancha.
I was talking about this situation to one of my Spanish neighbours the other day and he said that it was wrong for people to blame the government for creating the economic crisis which after all was worldwide. However, he added that you could criticise the government for being too slow to react to the crisis. As he explained, the economy of Spain was buoyant at that time fuelled as it was by the construction boom. And went on to say that countries like Germany, France and Britain had reacted sooner to what was going on and had therefore suffered less.
The twenty one per cent out of on an electorate of close to 34.7 million who are currently unemployed represents a fair number of disgruntled voters!