Spain held elections with low turnout and problems with overseas vote

On November 20 Spain held a general election where a low turnout over the 2008 election marked the return of the Popular Party to the government of the European peninsula.

57.65% of the Spanish went to express themselves to the polls; a number lower than 2008, when 60.95% of those registered went to vote.

Out of 35.7 million people who could exercise the right to vote in Spain, 34.2 corresponded to residents living in Spain and, 1.49 million to Spanish living abroad.

The decline in voting from abroad was another feature of this election. Out of 1.49 million registered in the Electoral Census for Spanish Abroad (CERA), only 136,400 applied to participate in the elections.  The reason was the enforcing by law of the “begged vote”, which requires all those who wish to vote from abroad to contact their respective Census Bureau.  The reduction of participation is notable compared to 2008, when 382,568 people voted out of the 1,205,329 surveyed.

Foreign participation declined. Source:

The latest reform of the Electoral Act by socialists and conservatives agreed and approved in January this year, ended the right of migrants to participate in municipal elections and tightened the requirements to do so in the regional, general and European elections.

As noticed by many Spanish residents abroad, the introduction of the “begged vote” system, decreased significantly the participation of migrants in the polls until  completely dilute their influence.

Similarly, problems with documentation and postal voting also affected citizens residing in Spain. In the elections this year, the low participation made the ballots from abroad have little ability to influence the results that placed the Popular Party back to the Spanish government.


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