Catalan election sees turnout of 57.97% amid Rodalies commuter train network chaos

Participation 6.68 percentage points higher than in 2021 during Covid-19 pandemic

Voters in a polling station in Lleida, western Catalonia
Voters in a polling station in Lleida, western Catalonia / Alba Mor
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

May 12, 2024 01:27 PM

May 13, 2024 10:02 AM

Final vote turnout in the Catalan election of May 12 was 57,97%, 6.68 percentage points higher than in 2021. At 1 pm voter turnout was more than four percentage points higher than in 2021, a total of 26.89%, but in the afternoon, the voting pace reduced amid the Rodalies commuter train network chaos, and it was 45.8%.

The Rodalies commuter train service in the Barcelona area was severely disrupted on Sunday due to the theft of copper cable in Montcada i Reixac, just northeast of Barcelona. This meant that many voters had difficulties getting to polling stations.

Pro-independence Esquerra Republicana and Junts+ had requested the regional electoral boards to extend voting hours on Sunday's election, but the authorities ruled out such need minutes before 8 pm.

While Esquerra requested that polling stations remained open for one extra hour in Barcelona and Tarragona, Junts+ wanted all polling stations across Catalonia to have an extended opening schedule. 

Junts+ suggested that such hours should be required to "fix and restore the normal Rodalies service, managed by the Spanish government, to ensure the fundamental right of voting for all citizens," a text shared by the party read.

Overall, there were 3,133,731 votes counted and 42.02% abstention.

Postal votes amounted to 97,452, 63.8% less than in 2021, when the highest number ever was recorded due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The last Catalan election, in 2021, which took place in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, saw the lowest turnout in Catalan history, with a total of only 53.42% of Catalans eligible to vote going to the polls.

The prior election, in 2017, saw the highest turnout in Catalan history at 79.1%. This was because that election took place at the height of the independence push, when voters were more interested in going to the polls. 

Since the first Catalan election in 1980 until the last election, the average turnout in Catalan elections has been around 58%. 

Although Catalans have been called to the polls several times in recent years, voter apathy has not yet been reflected in turnout.

Catalonia has not had a full 4-year term in the last 14 years, since 2010. In the entire 21st century, Catalans voted only twice on schedule and had six snap elections, including this one. 

The election was called early by Catalan president Pere Aragonès in March after failing to pass the budgets over a dispute with left-wing En Comú Podem over the development of the Hard Rock casino complex