Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Locked out

It must have been the 1964 general election. I walked on to the Town Hall Square in Elland to see Harold Macmillan speak. I would have been ten at the time. I've always been strangely drawn to political meetings.

Shortly after democracy was restored to Spain in 1977 the pattern soon settled into the usual two party - leftish, rightish - seesaw. The last time, in 2011, it was the turn of the right. There are several regional parties which have strong representation in the national parliament but their power base is in their home regions. Otherwise there were really just a couple of smaller national parties. A harder left party has, traditionally, been the third largest national party and, in 2007, a breakaway socialist politician formed a new centrist party. To put that into figures at the last general elections it was 185 seats to the PP (conservatives), 110 to the PSOE (socialists), 11 to the Left, 5 to the Centrists, 21 to Catalan and Basque groups and 18 to the rest

Then suddenly, last year, there was a group called Podemos which is often described as an anti austerity party though they are clearly hardish left. They surprised everyone by picking up five European seats just three months after their official launch. Current "intention to vote" polls have them neck and neck with the big two but, after relentless media pressure, they seem to be losing some of their gleam. Almost as suddenly there was another party, Ciudadadanos, on the scene. They come from a regional party formed in Catalonia in 2006 which went national in 2013 and got a couple of MEPs last year. They seemed to be just another small party but then suddenly their name was cropping up everywhere. Their politics are hard to pin down, they're definitely not for Catalan Independence, they suggest they are a bit left though lots of commentators place them to the right. The polls have Ciudadanos in a close fourth place. So from a two horse race less than a year ago we now have four and a half serious contenders.

I vote for the European Parliament through a Spanish ballot box. At the national level I get to vote in England. At regional level I am denied a vote in either my own or my adopted country and at the local level I vote in Spain.

The Spanish Town Hall Elections are on May 24th. The official campaign season hasn't started yet but the various parties are presenting their lists of candidates now. Our current council has the socialist PSOE in charge in coalition with a local party called the PSD. The opposition is made up of the conservative PP, a local party called UCL and BLOC d'el Pinos which is a local branch of a Valencian Nationalist group.

For 2015 the choice is a bit different. We have the same PSOE, Partido Socialista Obrero Español, the same PP, Partido Popular, a renamed version of BLOC now in a wider coalition called BLOC Comprmís, the Partido Democrata Pinoso Independiente, PDPI, which appears to be a renaming of the local PSD and then Ciudadanos, the relatively new national grouping mentioned above.

I couldn't get to either the PSOE or PDPI candidate presentations. Tonight it was the turn of the PP. Their meeting was advertised for 8.30pm and as I don't finish teaching my last class till 8pm in a town some 30km away from Pinoso it was going to be a bit tight. Spanish events tend to start late though so when I rolled up outside the building at 8.45 I reckoned I would be fine. The car park looked a bit quiet though, there was nobody milling about, the door was firmly locked. I gave up and came home.

I notice from the reports on the Town Hall website that the PP meeting took place in the Auditorium not the Interpretation Centre as billed. I'm sure the change was advertised somewhere.

Now I can't pretend I put a lot of effort into my planning for the event. All I did was to add the dates and places to my diary that came with a leaflet called Municipal Elections 2015 produced by the Municipal Means of Communication but I do hope that the rest of my election campaign goes just a little more smoothly.

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