VOTING IN SPAIN: LOCAL OR EUROPEAN ELECTIONS

elections-logo

Voting for took place yesterday (22nd May) in the UK for both local and European elections, but we have to wait until Sunday 25th May before election day arrives in Spain.

Thanks to the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, I am entitled to suffrage (the right to cast my vote) as an EU citizen (UK expat) living in Spain, in both the local and European elections provided that:

  1. My name is included on the official Town Hall Register (Padrón Municipal), and
  2. I have indicated my desire to be included on the electoral roll

As I have done both of these things,  my census card (Tarjeta Censal) has duly arrived through the post confirming my municipality, and informing me of where my polling station will be (Cómpeta Town Hall).

Cómpeta Town Hall

On election day, I will need to take along my photo ID (passport or driving licence) as proof of identity and my census card to cast my vote.

Providing a person is registered on the Padrón and the Census, then they will still be entitled to vote even if they have not received their census card through the post, though it might be best to check with the Town Hall where their Polling Station will be.

Unlike the system in the UK where voters place a cross (X) next to the name of the person they wish to vote for – here in Spain it is the party for whom you cast your vote.  Each political party will have already chosen their list of candidates who will represent them, and these lists can be found inside the voting booths.

All I will need to do is pick up the paper listing the candidates for the party I choose, place that list into an envelope, take it to the official at the electoral table, prove my ID and then slot the envelope into the ballot box.

In the Spanish voting system not only are you are not required to mark an X against the name of the person/party you wish to vote for, but if you do mark the paper, your vote would be spoiled.

On Sunday, the people of Spain will be voting for 54 MEPs.  Polling booths are usually open from 9am – 8pm (but times may vary).

The list of parties that you can vote for in Andalucía can be found here.

Have YOU voted in Spain?  Is the system different where you live?

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The Long and Short of San Isidro

San Isidro, Nerja, Spain

Whilst it’s true that there are fiestas and festivities in Spain throughout the year, I always feel that it’s the month of May that really kicks off the party season!

At the start of the month there’s El Día de la Cruz (the Day of the Cross) and last week I posted about my visit to the Patio Festival in Córdoba where I saw the most amazing displays of flowers.

The Romería de San Isidro takes place on 15th May each year, in honour of Isidro, a farm labourer who, according to legend, received divine assistance to perform his work and was known for his goodness toward the poor and animals. As a result he has become the patron saint of farm workers and other labourers in many Spanish-speaking countries.

San Isidro is also the patron saint of Nerja, so this is one of the biggest fiestas of the year to be held in the town.

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The festivities begin with a service at the church of El Salvador on the Balcón de Europa, before the effigy of the saint, (which normally resides at the Caves of Nerja), is taken back to the Hermitage of San Isidro in Maro.

The spectacular procession to accompany the Saint normally takes more than three hours and is a fantastic opportunity to see the many decorated carts, Andalucían thoroughbred horses, traditional costumes and pairs of magnificent oxen pulling beautifully adorned carts, including the one carrying the statue of San Isidro, himself.

San Isidro, Nerja, Spain

What was of particular interest to me this year, were the beautiful dresses worn by many of the ladies.

I noticed that as well as the traditional Spanish dresses, many of the younger women were wearing much shorter “flamenco-type” dresses with flat boots.  

Long Spanish dresses, Nerja

I love the elegant, longer dresses – but which do you prefer?

Short Spanish dresses, Nerja

Spanish dresses - long and short, Nerja, Spain

Anyway – back to the procession!

On arrival at the Caves of Nerja the celebrations really begin, with families and friends sharing picnics, paella, BBQs and, of course, plenty of wine and beer. This is followed by singing and dancing amongst the thousands of revellers until late into the night.

San Isidro is one of the best festivals of the year – vibrant, colourful and great fun. It usually heralds the start of good weather for the summer, as many locals say that the summer starts on 15th May!

Here´s hoping!

Which is your favourite Spanish festival or fiesta?

 

Men Bearing Gifts: Celebrating Three Kings Day

Until I moved to live in Spain, January 6th only meant one thing to me – the twelfth night – or, more importantly, the day you are meant to have all your Christmas decorations packed away until next year.

three kings parade[Image credit: Flickr (CC) Paul and Jill]

Now, of course, I know that it’s the day that La Fiesta de Los Reyes takes place throughout Spain to celebrate the day the Three Kings arrived in Bethlehem to present the baby Jesus with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.   It is also the most important day for Spanish children, as they receive their festive gifts from the Three Kings rather than Father Christmas (although every year Santa is becoming increasingly popular).

The fun starts on the previous evening, usually with processions passing though most towns and cities.  During the late afternoon, the crowds grow in anticipation of the arrival of the Three Kings on huge motorised floats, horseback, camels or, in the case of my local mountain village a year or two ago – in the back of a police car!

three kings float[Image credit: (cc) Paul and Jill]

As daylight fades away, you might hear the drums and music of the approaching parade, heralding the arrival of the Three Kings.

People on the floats throw boiled sweets towards the waiting crowds on either side.  But beware!  Some of the younger people on the floats can be rather enthusiastic throwers, with sweets being hurled out like missiles!  If you’re not careful you’ll get your eye taken out!  Many in the crowd come prepared, holding up-turned umbrellas to catch the booty, whilst others just scrabble around the ground, stuffing the fallen sweets in their pockets or bags.

It´s quite a sight to see adults scuttling around grabbing sweets off the floor totally without embarrassment – in fact, it´s easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all!

After the parade, most families head home where, before going to bed,  the children will put out something nice to eat and drink for the Three Kings, plus water for their camels. They also leave out their best pair of shoes to be filled with presents.  The next morning, if the children have been good then they will find presents in and around their shoes, if not, then only a lump of coal will have been left for them – though I suspect that doesn´t happen very often.

Roscon de Reyes

On January 6th, most families gather around the table to enjoy their Roscón de Reyes.   This is a ring-shaped bun or sweet bread, sugar-frosted and decorated with fruit flavoured jellies and fruit. The bun is sliced in half and filled with a mock cream mixture.  Hidden somewhere in the cream will be a novelty such as small model king and, if you are lucky enough to find one of the hidden figurines in your portion, then tradition has it that you will be blessed with good luck for the coming year.  Though I guess it would be bad luck if you inadvertently swallowed it and choked!

Belen in Malaga Town Hall

Nativity scene at Malaga Town HallThis is also the final opportunity to see one of the many Belénes (Nativity scenes) around the town or city.  I photographed this one inside Málaga Town Hall (Ayuntamiento de Málaga) last Sunday.  There was quite a queue to get in by the time I left.

Queue of people to see the Belen at Malaga Town Hall

Which is your favourite fiesta or festival?

You might also like to look at:

My Travel Reflections on 2013

Malaga’s Urban Street Art

The Buddhist Stupa of the Eastern Costa del Sol

Spain’s Christmas Lottery: El Gordo

El Gordo lottey ticketImage credit: alvy (Flickr CC)

Spain as a nation is lottery mad!

It is not uncommon to see a long queue of people outside a state-run lottery kiosk, where various forms of lottery ticket can be purchased. You may even find yourself approached in the street or in bars by people selling tickets.

But it’s at Christmas that their enthusiasm really does go overboard.

It was estimated last year that 98% of all Spanish adults participated in El Gordo (literal translation “The Fat One”), meaning that the Spanish Christmas lottery has the biggest prize pool of any lottery in the world, last year totaling over two and a half billion euros!

Tickets are very expensive, around €200 each, but you don’t have to buy a whole ticket. Most tickets are sold in decimos, or tenths, and often groups of neighbours or families will club together to buy a ticket between them.  This type of communal gambling can mean that whole villages or groups of workers can suddenly become very wealthy.

El Gordo is drawn only once a year, on December 22nd, with the process taking in excess of four hours.

The draw procedure has followed exactly the same form for over 100 years, with the pupils of the San Ildefonso school (formerly reserved for orphans of public servants) drawing the numbers and corresponding prizes, and singing the results aloud in front of the public.  Believe it or not, people sit by their televisions or radios for much of the day, watching or listening to the live broadcast, eagerly awaiting the results.

In the video, the boy is singing “one thousand euros“, which is the prize for that particular number drawn – and the girl sings the winning numbers which will each have that prize of one thousand euros.

To be honest, it’s not the most riveting TV show …. unless they happen to draw your number, of course!

The chances of winning a prize in the Spanish Christmas lottery are around 1:6, though not every one wins a fortune. Those who manage to win back their initial stake tend to spend it by buying a ticket for El Niño, the second largest draw of the year, which takes place on January 6th.

Buena suerte!

Do you ever buy lottery tickets and, more importantly, have you ever won?

 

Whilst you´re here, why not have a look at:

A Celebration of Fried Breadcrumbs: Migas Festival in Torrox pueblo

Fresh Figs Stuffed with Goat´s Cheese and wrapped in Smoked Bacon

Cost of Living in Spain: August 2013