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ELECTIONS

ELECTIONS

Five of the most awkward Spanish election fails

In the run up to Spain's local and regional elections at the end of May, politicians have been trying out unsual ways to entice voters - many of which they most probably now regret.

Five of the most awkward Spanish election fails
A candidate in Gatafe thought it was a good idea to give out condoms with his political leaflets. Photo: Twitter

1. Nakedness

Socialist party candidate in the Cantabrian town of Meruelo in northern Spain, Luis Alberto Nicolás, caused a stir when he appeared on his campaign posters naked except for a strategically placed rose – because why wouldn't stripping off pull in undecided voters? The problem was that no one in the party had approved his naked campaigning and Nicolás was promptly ordered to take down all the posters he had plastered on the walls around town. You would think he would have learnt from previous naked campaign fails…

2. Taxis

Madrid’s two Popular Party candidates, for mayor and regional president, have kicked up a fuss among taxi drivers by paying to have their campaign posters fixed to the city’s taxis – only for them to be promptly vandalized. Taxi drivers have complained that people are refusing to travel in their taxis because of the political bias they proclaim.

3. Resigning co-founder

Podemos co-founder Juan Carlos Monedero. Photo: AFP

Podemos have taken Spanish politics by storm this year, but the party has recently lost one of its most important figures. While it may not have been an election strategy, having a co-founder resign mere weeks before the election cannot be good for voter confidence. Juan Carlos Monedero, former advisor to late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, quit the party over “ideological differences” at the beginning of May.

 4. Cycling photo op

 

 

On Wednesday May 13th, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy got on his bike alongside Madrid mayoral candidate, Esperanza Aguirre and regional president candidate, Cristina Cifuentes. They cycled along Madrid’s river on the “Madrid bici” bikes, which are part of Madrid’s cycle scheme. Rajoy and Aguirre put past feuds behind them as they awkwardly cycled along the river for the photo op.

5. Condoms 

 

 

The Popular Party candidate in Getafe, south of Madrid, has been handing out condoms along with his election leaflets. Juan Soler-Espiauba Gallo has been distributing little packets containing a condom and emblazoned with his face alongside the slogan “Sensitivity and efficiency”. Soler has said that the campaign has been “well received among young people” and will help continue the policies of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. 

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ELECTIONS

Catalan separatists boost majority in regional election

Catalan separatist parties boosted their parliamentary majority in a regional election Sunday that was overshadowed by the pandemic and marked by low turnout, more than three years after a failed bid to break away from Spain.

Catalan separatists boost majority in regional election
Jailed ERC leader Oriol Junqueras (R), freed temporarily to participate in the electoral campaign, celebrates result with Catalan acting regional president and ERC candidate Pere Aragones. Photo: AFP
With Spain still grappling with a third wave of coronavirus infections, the vote in the wealthy northeastern region was held under tight restrictions to reduce the risk of contagion.
 
With 99 percent of the votes counted, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's Socialists won the most votes but the three separatist parties together were set to get 74 seats in the 135-seat assembly.
 
That is up from 70 seats won in the last election in December 2017, just months after Catalonia's failed secession bid which led to the jailing of several separatist leaders.
 
To reduce the risk of virus transmission in the region, polling stations were set up in spacious venues like food markets, the area around FC Barcelona's football stadium and the bullring in Tarragona.
 
Voters had to wear face masks, use disinfectant gel provided at polling stations and stand apart while lining up in rainy weather to cast their ballots.
 
During the last hour of voting, which was reserved for people infected with Covid-19, polling station workers wore gloves, facial screens and white protective gowns.
 
The Socialists had 33 seats, up from 17 in the last vote when they finished fourth.
 
Sanchez had hoped the election — Catalonia's fifth in a decade — would end separatist rule in the region which accounts for a fifth of Spain's economy.
 
He fielded his health minister Salvador Illa as his candidate in the hope that his high profile in the fight against the pandemic would help win votes.
 
While separatist parties have been deeply divided over strategy since the failed secession bid, they were not punished by voters and for the first time won over 50 percent of the vote, against 47.5 percent four years ago.
   
The more moderate ERC got 33 seats, the hardline JxC got 32 and the radical CUP nine seats.
 
 
'Amnesia' jibe
 
The result leaves the ERC's main candidate, 38-year-old jurist Pere Aragones, best placed to become Catalonia's next leader.
 
“We have stopped an operation by the (Spanish) state to expel separatists from institutions,” he said after the results were announced.
 
Illa had argued it was “time to turn the page” after over a decade of Catalan nationalists governments focusing on separatism but Aragones dismissed his approach during the campaign as “amnesia”.
 
He has said his party would not turn the page while independence leaders remained in jail over the failed secession bid.
 
Catalonia is currently governed by a coalition led by JxC, which is prone to confrontation with Madrid, and the ERC, which is open to dialogue and has helped Sanchez's minority government pass laws at the national level.
 
 
'We are afraid'
 
The anti-coronavirus measures appeared to discourage people from voting.
 
While some 5.5 million people were eligible to vote, turnout was a record low at 54.4 percent, down from almost 80 percent in the last election.
 
“I hesitated until the last minute whether to come vote or not,” Cristina Caballero, a 34-year-old child educator, told AFP at a Barcelona polling station.
 
“I think these elections should have been postponed.”
 
The regional government tried to put off the election until the end of May because of the pandemic but the courts blocked that move.
 
While more than 40 percent of the 82,000 people assigned to help staff polling stations on the day had asked to be recused, all polling stations were operating normally as of noon, according to the Catalan government.
 
Still, some people picked for polling station duty expressed concern.
 
“Of course we are afraid, I just had cancer and am still on sick leave, but I was called up,” Eva Vizcaino, a 54-year-old office worker, told AFP at a Barcelona polling station.
 
“The last hour is especially frightening, when people with Covid come.”
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