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Bob Houliston

As the dust starts to settle on the outcome of the European elections, opinion is still divided between those who cannot see a problem, and those who are analysing the statistics and presenting them for their own favour. In view of the copious amounts of data available, Bob Houliston from the local C.L.A.R.O. political group has investigated what he thinks the results actually meant at the street level of the Orihuela Costa.

Last Sunday’s European Parliament elections in Spain were interesting from many different points of view.

Nationally, the Popular Party (PP) was the party which obtained most votes but for the first time since maybe 40 years, the two major parties together, the PP and the Socialist Party (PSOE) failed to get a combined 50% share of the vote. The emergence of new and smaller parties challenged the monopoly which the two big parties have enjoyed for so long, leading many to predict the end of the two party system in Spain.

Closer to home, in Valencia, the two major parties obtained more than 50% of the vote between them but new and smaller parties played such an important part that, projected into next year’s regional elections, neither of the two major parties would be able to govern without an alliance. The Popular Party won the highest number of votes but the difference between PP and PSOE narrowed to 7.5% compared to 15% in the 2009 European Parliament elections.

In Orihuela, the Popular Party won an apparently impressive 45% of the vote but, in the European Parliament elections in 2009, when the turnout was admittedly 10% higher, their share of the vote was 66%. Compared to 2009, the PP in Orihuela lost over 7,000 votes, equal to a loss of 21%. The Socialist Party vote share in Orihuela on Sunday was 4% less than in 2009. The two major parties which took 94% of the vote in 2009 obtained 68% of the total vote this time. The influence of new and smaller parties reaffirmed their presence in Orihuela where for over 20 years the Popular Party dominated. This loss of the traditional PP monopoly of power in Orihuela already ended in the 2011 municipal elections when, thanks to the impact of C.L.A.R.O in combination with CLR, the PP failed to achieve an absolute majority and a Socialist-Green Party coalition has governed since. The European Parliament elections last Sunday suggest that the days of the absolute majority of the PP and their monopoly of power in Orihuela are indeed over.

The story in Orihuela Costa was distinct. If the turnout for Sunday’s European Parliament elections was a respectable 45% nationally and in Orihuela, in the three voting centres of Orihuela Costa it was only 22%. This turnout level is very low. The number of eligible voters both Spanish (who are automatically registered to vote) and EU non-Spanish was 6,657, some 20% of the estimated 30,000 padron registered adult population. Expressed more dramatically, the total votes cast 1,353, represent only 4.5% of the POTENTIAL voting strength – Orihuela Costa is punching way below its weight! The problem is that EU, mainly British and Irish residents, do not make the effort to register to vote, which only requires a visit to the Playa Flamenca office of the Town Hall. The numbers on the voters list may be a little higher for the all important municipal elections next year but, unless a special effort is made, not high enough to give Orihuela Costa a decisive say in the next Orihuela Town Council.

The message that it is necessary to register to vote and vote in order to have a say in the way we are governed, has so far unfortunately failed to get home.

Unlike in the country as a whole and in Valencia, the two major parties (PP and PSOE) were almost neck and neck in the vote in Orihuela Costa. Compared to Orihuela, where they achieved double the PSOE vote, in Orihuela Costa, the PP only obtained 22 more votes than the PSOE. New and smaller parties obtained over 500 votes, nearly 40% of the total. One reason for the poor performance of the PP in Orihuela Costa may well be that Orihuela Costa voters were critical of the Popular Party for the recent, abrupt dumping of C.L.A.R.O. in December in favour of a pact with Pedro Mancebo’s CLR and the PP were punished accordingly.

A technical factor which affected the vote in Orihuela Costa was the appearance of a new voting station in the new nursery school in Lomas de Cabo Roig. This is the first time that voting took place in this centre and many people do not know it or how to find it. Furthermore, the geographic scope of this centre was strange. People living within a few hundred metres of the Playa Flamenca office of the Town Hall, their traditional voting place, were directed to vote in the nursery school in Lomas de Cabo Roig, miles away. Some attention needs to be given to the location and geographic scope of the voting stations in future elections, beginning with the local elections in May, 2015.

But by far the greatest need, if they want to have a say in the way they are governed, is for the adult, EU mainly British and Irish resident population of Orihuela Costa, to register to vote. NO VOTE, NO VOICE.

To hear more about this topic, make sure you are listening to Exite Radio on Monday morning, as Bob Houliston will be joining Mark Nolan at around 10:00, to discuss this and much more from the political world of both Europe and Orihuela. You can tune your radio to 93.1fm on the Costa Blanca, or listen online at www.exiteradio.com.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/43814/

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