Last weekend´s elections not only dealt a blow to some of the larger political parties, they will also have potentially serious repercussions on a local level, especially in the two ex-pat rich areas of Orihuela and Torrevieja.
Despite the often complex world of Spanish politics, marred recently with corruption and scandal in many areas, the reality of awarding the rights to run an administration for a period of time will affect those who live in the areas tremendously.
During the last four year period, the international residents of Orihuela has benefitted from having at least some representation in the town hall, through the coastal centric CLARO group and their head Bob Houliston, and the Los Verdes councillor Martina Scheurer. Now, both those representative are gone, Scheurer by her own choice not to stand again, and Houliston ousted by his party which was unable to gain the requisite 5% of the votes to enable them to be counted.
The result for Orihuela now is that the Partido Popular gained a majority, albeit not overall, and are likely to form a coalition government and regain power once more. It is true that the “new” PP is formed by largely different members than ran the administration before, many of those also facing corruption charged themselves, including Pepa Ferrando, although her newly formed renegade party did achieve enough votes for her to get a seat, despite the corruption threat.
But the question now remains as to what representation the coastal area will have, and the international residents, once the new government is formed. There was little in any manifesto promising a wave of improvements, in fact, the typical mantra throughout most of the campaigns was City, Pedanias, Costa, clearly pitching the coast at the end of the priorities.
It is a sad fact, like it or not, that the lack of representation that the coast will now have is the fault of those who chose not to vote, for whatever their reason. For CLARO to maintain a seat, they were just 47 votes short.
In fact, as Scheurer pointed out in her post-election analysis, around 8.200 citizens of the Orihuela Costa had the right to vote, but only 2.384 did so, which corresponds to 29,4%, a huge drop from the 42% in 2011. Across the municipality, the overall participation was 62,62%, nearly 9% less than in 2011. It is the lack of votes from the coast that will be the cause for the lack of real representation. In fact, according to Houliston, CLARO obtained almost half of the votes from the coast, and so the 50% who did choose them are now the real victims, as their votes become discounted.
The answer to how the coast will be represented will be revealed in the fullness of time, for now all we can do is wait to see what collaborations are formed and who takes control.
In Torrevieja, the ruling PP were dealt a considerable blow too, losing the overall majority they had held for over two decades. They lost two of the seats required for an overall majority, winning a total of eleven seats, but the reality was that they lost more than was apparent.
Having faced a reduction in the status of the town following the cleanup of the padrón carried out by the central government, the town hall had already lost two positions in government, wiped off the list on account of the huge fall in population figures. The local government therefore dropped from 27 council posts to 25, of which the PP gained 11, therefore actually losing 4 seats.
The unfortunate outcome for the reduction that was with fewer places to go round, the smaller parties had less opportunity to gain a seat there.
In terms of representation for international residents, in their election campaign, the PSOE promised more town hall facilities sin English. In particular, they promised to provide English speaking staff to accompany anybody who needed help through the administrative processes of the town hall.
They promised monthly platforms where the Mayor would visit local urbanisations and listen to the problems of the residents, rather than just ruling from the centre of the town. They promised information, press releases, news and more, all in English, because for them, all residents of Torrevieja were important, and they considered it their job to make everybody feel like a part of the town and fell important.
However, their promises were not enough either, only achieving 4 seats, losing out to the growing wave of other parties. Taking responsibility for the loss, the leader of the PSOE in Torrevieja, Ángel Sáez, announced his resignation on Wednesday.
The socialist party lost 600 votes from 2011, whereas the PP lost 3,000 votes, prompting Sáez to question why Eduardo Dolón has not taken the same responsibility and stood down.
It is quite possible that the PP in Torrevieja will collaborate with the new Ciudadanos party to form a majority government, but that is not the only option on the table.
There is also a distinct possibility that the remaining 6 political parti
s of Torrevieja will group together to form a mass coalition government. That would see Torrevieja run much the same as Orihuela has been for the last administration, with no doubt a quiet and positive start leading to what was seen in Orihuela towards the end, breakups and infighting, but the immediate result would be the toppling of the PP from power.
Although a 6-party coalition would be an unusual move, it would mean that for once the council is formed by candidate who collectively received the most votes, and so ought to be a true representation of democracy. When Sáez was asked if that was the reason for him resigning, to move aside to allow this pact to form, he neither confirmed nor denied the fact, simply answering, “it´s possible”.
Either way, the next few weeks will prove to be some of the most interesting in the world of local politics for some time. Once the collaborations are formed and governments created, they then might get back to doing whatever it is they promised to do, at least for the next 4 years.
Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/47459/