MADRID went to the polls today to determine the political future of Spain’s richest region after two weeks of aggressive electioneering and drama – including death threats mailed to politicians.
Polling stations opened at 9am and people can vote until 8pm in an election currently seen as a litmus paper test for the political landscape of the entire nation in an increasingly polarised country.
The snap poll was called by the current Madrid president Isabel Diaz Ayuso who wants to cement her Partido Popular’s hold over a political and economic powerhouse – the conservative PP has governed the region for 26 years.
Left and right have repeatedly clashed in a campaign that has seen the ballot being labelled as a choice between “freedom and communism” or “democracy and fascism” – depending on the view of the two sides.
More than 5,112,658 residents are eligible to vote for 136 seats in the regional assembly, a record for the regional election.
And the level of interest can be gauged by the 259,411 requests for a postal vote, an increase of 41% against the 2019 election. Application came from 121 countries, including: 4,464 from the UK; 3,972 from Germany; another 3,021 from France; and 2,752 from the United States.
If security was stepped up over threats, the Covid-19 pandemic has seen health measures stepped up at polling stations. The regional government has purchased more than 55,000 litres of hand sanitiser, almost five million face masks, and two million gloves. Anyone suspected of having coronavirus has been asked to vote as late as possible tonight.