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Rain does little to dampen turnout in Spanish local and regional votes

Conor Faulkner
Conor Faulkner - [email protected]
Rain does little to dampen turnout in Spanish local and regional votes
A voter casts her ballot at a polling station in the University of Barcelona, on May 28, 2023 during local and regional polls. Photo: Pau BARRENA/AFP.

Heavy rain in parts of Spain hasn't stopped Spaniards voting in today's local and regional elections, with turnout rates by mid-afternoon already beating 2019 levels across most of the country.

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Heavy rains across parts of Spain have done little to dampen turnout in Spain's municipal and regional elections on Sunday, with polling stations seeing a slight increase on turnout levels compared to the 2019 elections.

More than 35.5 million people are eligible to vote in the municipal elections, and 18.3 million for the regional elections this Sunday. As of 2:00 p.m 36.7 percent of registered voters had already exercised their democratic right to vote, a figure that puts it 1.6 percentage points ahead of the level in 2019, when it was 35.10 percent by mid-afternoon.

Some political pundits had questioned whether the poor weather might affect people's enthusiasm to vote, but turnout as of 2:00 p.m had risen across the country, particularly in the Valencian Community (up by 5.17 percent), somewhere that had heavy rains throughout the morning, as well as in La Rioja (up 5.11 percent) and Murcia (up 4 percent).

Turnout rates in Aragon, Madrid, Navarra, Asturias, the Balearic Islands and Castilla-La Mancha all increased by around 3 percent, whereas Melilla has registered the lowest level so far, with just 25.71 percent turnout, a decrease of 0.53 percent on 2019.

READ ALSO: Spain's local elections set to put PM on the back foot

The only other regions where turnout has not gone up, besides Melilla, are Catalonia and the Basque Country. 

The elections, which will elect both local councils as well as the regional executives, are seen as an important political barometer heading into the general election scheduled for the end of the year.

Polls predict that the Spanish right will oust Socialist (PSOE) Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, though it remains unclear if centre-right party Partido Popular (PP), led by Alberto Núñez Feijóo, will do enough to win an overall majority or be forced to rely on far-right party Vox in some form of coalition arrangement as the party do in the Castile and León region.

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On Sunday, voters are casting their ballots in 8,131 municipalities across Spain and electing the regional governments in 12 of Spain's 17 regions, 10 of which are currently under PSOE control. 

If PP makes strong gains in the regional results, particularly if they manage to wrestle control of the Valencia region from the Socialists - a region viewed as something of a political bellwether in Spain - the stage seems set for the Spanish right to return to La Moncloa and govern Spain again.

A strong showing from Vox, however, or if PSOE outperform expectations, would present its own problems for PP and Feijóo, who would then have to simultaneously navigate appealing to the political centre ground and keep Vox at arm's length, publicly at least, while knowing that he may well come to rely on them later in the year.

The polls close at 8:00 p.m.

Spain does not do exit polls like many other countries do, though there is expected to be a quick turnaround on counts with initial results due from 10:00 p.m.

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