Electoral fraud scandals mar Spain’s local elections campaign

Several alleged vote-buying scandals marred the end of campaigning Friday for Spain's May 28th local and regional elections in a blow to the ruling Socialist party.

Electoral fraud scandals mar Spain's local elections campaign
Electoral fraud scandals mar end of Spain vote campaign. Photo: PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

The first such incident was detected in Melilla, one of Spain’s two North African enclaves located on Morocco’s Mediterranean shoreline where police arrested 10 people earlier this week on suspicion of buying postal votes.

Media reports said families in financial difficulty were being offered between €50 and €200 in exchange for their vote.

READ ALSO: How to vote in person in Spain’s municipal elections

Investigators then uncovered a similar case in Mojácar, a coastal town in southeastern Spain, where police arrested seven people on Wednesday who were due to appear in court Friday. Public television said votes there were being sold for €100.

And in the southeastern town of Albudeite, police briefly arrested another 13 people in connection with a vote-buying scandal before freeing them on conditional release.

READ ALSO: Spain’s key regional and local elections at a glance 

In Mojácar and Albudeite, the alleged vote-buying involved members of Pedro Sánchez’s Socialist party, prompting the right-wing opposition to demand answers from the prime minister, who until now, has kept mum on the subject.

“We demand that the prime minister take full responsibility and explain what has been happening,” said opposition leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo, head of the right-wing Popular Party (PP).

Press reports said there have been further complaints about vote-buying in two other areas in which the Socialists have pointed the finger at the PP.

Voters will on Sunday elect mayors in 8,131 municipalities across the country, and chose leaders in 12 of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions.

Sunday’s vote is seen as a crucial barometer ahead of a year-end general election which polls suggest will be won by the PP although the party is seen falling short of an absolute majority.

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Spain sees no risk to EU presidency from July snap election

There is "no risk" that Spain's upcoming European Union presidency will be affected by an early general election in July, Spanish Prime minister Pedro Sánchez said Monday.

Spain sees no risk to EU presidency from July snap election

Sánchez last week dissolved parliament and called a snap election on July 23rd following heavy losses for his Socialist party in local and regional elections on May 28th.

Spain is slated to take over the rotating presidency of the bloc from Sweden on July 1st.

READ ALSO: Who won where in Spain’s regional elections?

Asked if the general election would affect its turn at the helm of the bloc, Sánchez said the goals for this presidency were shared with the other EU member states and the European Commission.

“There is no risk that all the goals which we set before the elections were called will not be met during this presidency,” he said during a joint news conference with his visiting Swedish counterpart Ulf Kristersson.

“Other nations have held elections as well during their presidency and absolutely nothing went wrong,” he added.

Kristersson said he “fully shared” Sánchez’s assessment that there is “no problem at all”.

READ ALSO: Collapse of Spain’s far-left complicates vote for Sánchez

He recalled that Sweden held elections just before its presidency of the bloc while France held presidential elections in April 2022 during its EU presidency.

“Every country is very well suited to handle all the activities at the same time,” Kristersson said.

Sánchez had been scheduled to address the European Parliament’s plenary session on July 13th to outline Madrid’s main policies during the six-month presidency, but he requested it be delayed to September due to the early elections.

That would allow the speech to be delivered by a new Spanish premier in the event that Sánchez is defeated in the election.