Local elections underway: 5,489,793 called to vote in 947 municipalities
Over 9,000 councilors across Catalonia are to be elected, with results published by 11 pm
5,489,793 Catalans are called to cast their ballot at today's local elections across the 947 municipalities in Catalonia.
Polls opened at 9 am, and residents are to decide on the future of the 9,147 representatives until 8 pm when the voting stations will close and the first exit polls will be published. From that moment, ballots will be counted, with results announced by 11 pm, or midnight at the latest.
While votes will take longer to be counted in the largest towns and cities, others already know who the next mayor is, even if polls just opened, as there is only one candidate to vote for. Some municipalities have been voting for the same politician for over four decades.
This year, there are 67,240 more voters than in 2019, according to Spain's National Statistics Institute (INE). Even non-Spanish residents are allowed to vote in the local elections.
Local elections in Spain are always on the same day, according to Spanish electoral law. The legislation states that municipalities across Spain will choose their next mayor on the fourth Sunday of May.
Elections take place every four years and cannot be repeated. After today, elected politicians will take their new position on June 17 in plenaries across Catalonia. So, depending on the results, many will need to start negotiations to become mayor if they do not win an absolute majority.
How to vote?
Voters cast the ballot of the party they want to vote for. Normally, the first name of the list will be the mayor if that is the group that gets the most votes.
Once people have selected the list they are backing, they have to put it inside an envelope and go to their 'mesa electoral,' a table with three people and a ballot box to cast their vote.
Everyone has to bring their DNI or NIE, and envelopes need to be clean with no drawings or marks. If that is the case, or the ones that count the votes find more than one list inside, the vote will not be counted and will be considered nulled.
Candidates in Barcelona call for wide participation
Jaume Collboni was the first candidate in Barcelona to cast their ballot on Sunday, doing so around 9.30 am. The Socialist candidate called for wide "democratic participation" in comments to the media.
He was positive about his campaign and confident for the day ahead: "We're convinced that a new era begins in Barcelona tomorrow."
He celebrated that during the campaign he as "positive and proactive," he was able to explain his "solutions" for the city.
Incumbent mayor Ada Colau, of Barcelona En Comú, was next to vote at around 10.10 am in the neighborhood of Gràcia.
The former housing activist turned politician said that today's election was very "important for Barcelona," and underlined that democracy is not only "voting every four years."
Colau acknowledged her rivals in saying that the election campaign was "disputed" and reminded voters of the importance of exercising their right to vote for "the city that we want for our children and future generations."
Xavier Trias, voted next at 10.35, and he was sure that "today will be a great day, an extraordinary day for democracy."
The candidate linked with the pro-independence party Junts per Catalunya urged people to get out and vote. "During the campaign, we've been looking for changes in the city, now is the moment to make it happen."
"We've done all the work, now the last job is to vote," Trias said, adding that participation is historically low in municipal elections, but that he hopes that's not the case this time.
No matter the results, Trias will be "celebrating" after a "long, hard campaign," which will culminate in the electorate "deciding the future of our city."
Esquerra Republicana's candidate, Ernest Maragall, cast his ballot shortly after 11 am. "Today is a great day for me," Maragall, who won more votes than any other candidate in the last election, told gathered reporters.
Today is a "day of democracy," Maragall celebrated. "The simple gesture of putting the ballot paper in the box is, for me, very significant, every time I find new meaning in it," he said.
Like the other candidates, the ERC frontrunner made a plea for voters to take part in the elections today. "Today is the day to exercise your vote, your voice, your commitment to the city."
The People's Party candidate for mayor in Barcelona, Daniel Sirera, added his voice to the calls for participation so that "as many people as possible leave their homes to vote."
Speaking to members of the press just after casting his ballot, Sirera said that with a high turnout in the elections, "a much better city council" will emerge with "many more people from Barcelona represented."
Accompanied by his 86-year-old mother, Sirera highlighted the importance of the elderly to get out and vote.
Eva Parera, candidate for Valents, called asked the electorate to vote to "turn Barcelona around."
"It's a very important day for the city, the people of Barcelona will decide if we continue to be condemned to the same thing," she said.
Ciudadanos candidate Anna Grau called for participation in the elections to bring about the change that, in her opinion, is needed in the capital.
"Every effort is too little for these elections to go well and move forward with the best democratic guarantees," she said at her local polling station.