Postal vote queues at a post office in Melilla last week. Europa Press
Final countdown to local elections marred by reported vote-rigging in two parts of Spain
Local elections 2023

Final countdown to local elections marred by reported vote-rigging in two parts of Spain

In Mojácar, in Andalucía's Almeria province, two Socialist candidates have been arrested, and in Melilla, a local government member has been held



Friday, 26 May 2023, 11:16


This Sunday, 28 May, sees Spain go to the polls in elections for every councillor in each of the country's more than 8,000 town halls. Most of the country's regional assemblies are up for reelection too, but not Andalucía.

Candidates have been making their last pleas to voters this week ahead of a legal cooling-off day tomorrow (Saturday).

However, the final push to the polls has been largely overshadowed by headline-grabbing reports of postal votes being bought for cash and favours. Arrests have been made in two separate cases: in the Almeria coastal municipality of Mojácar; and in the city of Melilla on the North African coast.

In Mojácar, two candidates for the Socialist PSOE party in Sunday's vote were among seven held by the Guardia Civil. Reports said that residents in the town, especially poorer Latin-American immigrants, were being offered up to 250 euros or the possibility of a future job for giving their postal votes to the party.

The inquiry has identified the second and fifth PSOE candidates on the electoral list, Francisco Bartolomé Flores and Cristóbal Vizcaíno, as involved.

The former has already been suspended from his party while the second cannot be as he is not officially a party member. Legally they cannot now be barred from standing but the Socialist party has said neither will take the party whip locally if elected.

"This is nothing new," said one street seller in Mojácar this week.

The developing Mojácar scandal came after news of alleged corruption in Melilla, where the city council doubles up as the devolved government for the small North African coastal enclave.

Here, the PSOE's partner in local government, the Coalition for Melilla party, has seen one of its assembly MPs, Mohamed Ahmed Al-lal, held over alleged vote rigging. (That party's leader had been given a prison sentence for buying votes in the 2008 election to the Spanish Senate.)

The opposition PP in Melilla has urged the PSOE to break its ties with Coalition for Melilla. In reply, the PSOE has said that two of the ten people held for buying votes there were allegedly doing so for the PP. The PP has denied this and asked for proof.

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