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GUIDE: Elections in Spain in 2023

The Local Spain
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GUIDE: Elections in Spain in 2023
For foreigners in Spain, the municipal elections are the ones that you can vote (including some non-EU citizens) and even run in. Photo: LLUIS GENE/AFP

2023 is set to be a pivotal year in Spanish politics, with municipal and regional elections, plus a general election sometime at the end of the year. Here's all you need to know.


2023 in Spain is setting up to be a bumper year of politics with a series of pivotal elections.

Not only will there be municipal and regional elections, but a general election must be called by the end of the year too.

The Local breaks down when they are, who can vote in them, and why they matter.


Municipal (May 28th)

Spain's municipal elections, like the equivalent of local elections in the UK, will be held on May 28th, 2023, and will see local councillors and mayors elected in thousands of towns and cities across the country.

READ ALSO: Which Spanish elections can foreigners vote in?

For foreigners in Spain, the municipal elections are the ones that you can vote (including some non-EU citizens) and even run in.

Many don't realise, but that means that British citizens residing in Spain are still entitled to vote and stand for municipal elections in Spain under similar conditions as they had been able to when still EU citizens, thanks to a bilateral voting agreement with Spain. 

Following Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, however, British citizens now do not have the right to vote in elections to the European Parliament, and still can’t vote in national elections.

When The Local Spain initially reported on the agreement, there were 37 locally elected British town and city councillors in Spain, mostly in the Valencia region and Andalusia, the two Spanish regions with the highest number of British residents.

For Brits wanting to vote (or even run) in your municipal elections this year, be warned that the deadline to register is January 15th. There are a few criteria to qualify, however. You must:

  • Have a legal residence permit in Spain. 
  • Have legally resided in Spain continuously for at least three years prior to your registration. 
  • Be domiciled in the municipality where you want to vote and appear in the municipal register. 

READ ALSO: BREXIT: Britons told to register to vote in local elections despite deal with Spain

Spain's municipal elections are the best and only chance non-EU foreigners have got to have a say in their local community, and this year the campaign period will be from midnight on Friday, May 12th to midnight on Saturday, May 27th - leaving the rest of Saturday for a day of reflection when campaigning is banned, something customary in Spain.

Registered voters can still vote by post for up to 3 days before the elections are held.

Along with British citizens, citizens from Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Korea, Ecuador, Iceland, Norway, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago can also vote in municipal elections. 


Regional (May 28th)

The important thing to know is that there won't be regional elections in every region of Spain in 2023. And the only foreigners who can vote in regional elections in Spain are those with Spanish nationality registered in the electoral census.

Also, the decentralised nature of Spanish politics and society means regional governments have a big say in how things are run.

Galicia and the Basque Country held their elections in August 2020, and Catalonia did so a year later, on February 14th 2021.

As The Local reported on, both Castilla y León and Andalusia had controversial and consequential regional elections in 2022, so won't be having one this year.

That leaves Aragón, Asturias, Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Valencia, Extremadura, Madrid, Murcia, Navarra and La Rioja, who will all hold regional elections in 2023. The autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla will also have elections.

All regional elections will be on the same date as the municipal elections - May 28th.

READ MORE: What will happen in the Valencia's regional elections?

As these regional elections come in late May, they will mark the halfway point of the political calendar and serve as a litmus test for the political sentiment in the country more broadly. If one party performs poorly, or particularly well, in the regionals, it could affect momentum heading into the general election at the end of the year.

Similarly, the results of the regional elections may give us some insight into the possible coalition configurations (such as in Castilla y León in 2022) that could potentially play out on the national stage a few years later.



Spain's saves the best (or biggest) until last this year.

Spain is set to have a general election sometime at the end of 2023, the latest (and most likely) date it'll be called being December 10th.

Unless early elections are called, which Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is unlikely to do while he trails in the polls, the electoral campaign would begin on midnight on Friday, November 24th and last until 00:00 on Saturday, December 9th, with the Saturday being the rest day before voting day on the Sunday.

Though foreigners have no vote in general elections in Spain, the election of a national government always affects life for everyone in the country. For many foreigners in Spain, there's one main, looming fear: the far-right.

If the PP, Spain's centre-right party, is forced to form a coalition with far-right Vox, as many predict and fear, there would be ramifications on Spain's migrant (both legal and illegal) community.


READ ALSO: Who will win Spain’s 2023 election – Sánchez or Feijóo? 

According to Vox’s own policy agenda on its official website, the number one priority in its immigration agenda is the deportation of all illegal immigrants. 

Vox also proposes the deportation of legal migrants who have committed crimes in Spain and regularly cites statistics about the proportion of crimes committed by immigrants.

Similarly, a PP-Vox coalition (or even a PP majority, to a less extent) could impact on Gibraltar. 

If a Brexit deal regarding Gibraltar isn’t made before the next general election and Vox play a minority role in a national government, which is an unlikely but plausible outcome, it is possible that negotiations will be have to be completely restarted and any progress made torn up. 

READ ALSO: BREXIT: UK says ‘significant progress’ in Gibraltar talks with Spain 


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