Monday, May 28, 2007

My voting experience yesterday was like the vast majority of personal interactions in Spain – very enjoyable, involving much smiling and even a bit of a chat. There were inevitable similarities with voting in a UK election but the differences were very Spanish – lots of people, reams of paper and a need to prove you are who you claim to be. There were actually 5 people behind the desk:-
Person A: Received my ID card and loudly called out my name.
Person B: Repeated my name with great deliberation. And then said I must be on the Foreigners list.
Person C: Checked my name was on the electoral roll and put a tick against it.
Person D: Handwrote my name and ID number – in capitals - on a foolscap sheet.
Person E: Sat at the end of the desk, monitoring [I guess] the other four people.
In short, people and paper intensive but quick and pleasant.

As for the results . . . Well, in my township of Poio the right-of-centre PP party gained the highest percentage of votes but the vote-losing Galician Nationalist Block [BNG] will retain the mayoralty, thanks to a coalition with the socialist PSOE party. Over the river in Pontevedra, it’s exactly the same situation, with the BNG suffering the heavy loss of 3 of its 10 seats, 2 to the PP and 1 to the PSOE. This fall in popularity of the BNG is not exactly what one of my nationalist readers confidently predicted a while back. Nonetheless, the BNG mayor will now have a third term of 4 years. Which may or may not go down well with the 72% of the Pontevedra populace who didn’t vote for his party. He says he’s ‘taken note’ of his set-back. But whether this means he’ll address the city’s traffic/transport problem is anyone’s guess. Nor is it clear what, if anything, it will mean for the BNG policy of promoting Gallego at the expense of Spanish. Perhaps – in a spirit of compromise - we will again get circulars [and Turismo/Fiesta brochures] in both languages. One can but hope.

By the way, I suspect most – if not all Spanish – readers will find it hard to believe that in the UK one doesn’t have to prove one’s identity, merely to show the card posted to your house. Proving your identity is so ingrained in Spanish society, it’s seen as merely routine and not as an imposition. Or, worse, as indicative of a police state. Truth to tell, I’m now so inured to showing my ID for even the tiniest credit card purchase, I no longer react the way I used to. And I suspect that 10 years from now – or possibly even 5 – this will be true in the UK as well.

To end on a lighter note – My daughter, Faye, tells me there was a large clock in Madrid counting down the days towards the date – in pre-election April – when a metro extension was due to open. When it reached zero and completion was still at least a couple of months off, it promptly disappeared. Unpunished, the PP strengthened its grip on the city. As I’ve said several times, I love the pragmatism of the Spanish.

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