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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.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Off to the polls

General election today in Spain. I'm sure you know. The fact that polling day is Sunday here and Thursday in the UK piqued my interest. Do you know that the UK and India are the only countries in the world where the vote is on a Thursday? Worldwide, Sunday is by far the most popular day.

We had elections back in December. The old party duopoly that has existed more or less since the return to Democracy here collapsed. The Partido Popular, the most right wing of the big parties, won most seats in the parliament but they didn't have anything like a majority. Their leader is a bloke called Mariano Rajoy. He looks a bit doddery and he's got a beard. One of his favourite tactics is to wait and see. The Partido Socialista Obrero Español, the standard left wing party that stopped being left wing years ago came second but only just. The lowest vote for them in their recent history. It was the first election for their newish leader called Pedro Sanchez. He looks pretty dynamic, big smile, reasonable dress sense. One of his favourite tactics is to sound resolute and complain about other politicians. Next up was Podemos. This group are sometimes described as anti system, sometimes anti austerity and sometimes as communists in the Venezuelan, Cuban mould. Their leader is a bloke with a pony tail and a wispy beard in the stereotypical social worker university lecturer style. His method is to be forthright and just a normal sort of person even if that person has got a bit different ideas - like your vegan pal. This lot like to repeat phrases over and over again so they stick with the voters. They suggest something radical to solve most things but then tend to soften the radicalism. The media don't like Podemos much. Last up but still with a sizeable block of votes was Ciudadanos. There was a lot of debate when they first started to show in the opinion polls as to whether they were left or right. The general view seemed to be sort of right leaning but when the horse trading started after the December 2015 elections they teamed up with the (sort of) leftist PSOE. Their man, Albert Rivera looks like the sort of boy that your mum hopes your sister will hook up with. He knows when not to wear a tie with his suit. Trying to think of his political tactics I can't remember him doing or saying anything. Must be my memory.

Anyway so in the end, apart from Ciudadanos teaming up with the PSOE nobody would budge so nobody had enough seats to form a government. There are a few regional parties and there were possible combinations but policy differences stopped it happening. and that's why it's back to the ballot box.

For this election the one major difference is that Podemos have partnered up with the stump of the old Communist Party. Spain has a proportional representation system but it's territorial so, as in the UK, parties can still pick up lots of votes but not turn those into seats. Izquierda Unida found itself in that position last time as the fifth most voted party but with just a couple of deputies. The new electoral coalition Unidos Podemos might gain an advantage from that and the talk is as to whether they can unseat the PSOE as the second most voted party.

Pinoso, last time out, was solid PP. I don't get a vote of course though Podemos say they would like to give me one. Brexit may give me one too but in a more roundabout way! I went in to town to have a look at the voting stations. They all seemed to be doing a brisk trade even though the prediction is for a low turnout because of election fatigue. Obviously election campaigns have changed recently. Posters and public meetings are a bit old hat so it's difficult to spot obvious signs on the streets and although Twitter, Facebook and the media are alive with the stuff they would be, wouldn't they? In fact I've just realised that not a single Spaniard has mentioned the election today to me.

Anyway we'll know soon enough. Results overnight.

And the results were: The PP increased their majority. The PSOE came in second but with the lowest ever number of deputies. Podemos and Izquierda Unida got the same number of seats as before and came in third. Ciudadanos lost seats but came in a strong fourth. This was with about 98% of the votes counted so there may be detail changes. In Pinoso the PP won easily. PSOE second and Podemos third.

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