MADRID – Spain’s conservatives have a new man: The postal service.
Ahead of the country’s election next weekend, post offices across the country have been filled with people who want to register to vote before the last day of the election ends this Thursday. Spain’s most popular centrist party, however, is not happy – and is calling the post that it is meddling in the election.
According to Correos, the government post office, 94,000 Spaniards filed to vote on Wednesday. Madrid-based Alejandro Rodríguez, who registered to vote in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, was one of them.
“I waited until the last minute, out of laziness more than anything else,” he admitted sheepishly. “But luckily everything was very straightforward: I came early, at 8:30 in the morning, and there wasn’t any line so I was there in 15 minutes.”
This is the first time Spain has held elections very late in the summer, while more than a quarter of registered users are expected to be on vacation. From the beginning, the number of written-in votes was expected, but more candidates than expected have gone through this process.
As of Thursday, 2,456,826 letters had been registered, accounting for about 7 percent of all voters living in Spain and double the number of voters. 997,530 votes sent in November 2019, when Spain held national elections for the last time.
Even some postal agencies do he complained that Correos was not showing enough commitment to deal with the number of applications, the agency insists that the process is managed well, partly due to the extra working hours that its offices offer throughout the country to accommodate candidates who hesitate.
This job is also hiring 19,400 additional workers before the election, and was supported by an amazingly dedicated regular staff. More than 30 percent of workers who were due to go on vacation in July voluntarily asked to delay their vacation to ensure that no office is understaffed.
On the right side
Despite his efforts, the center-right leader of the Popular Party Alberto Nunez Feijoo this week doubt on the ability of Correos to do its job and said that the postal authorities are deliberately trying to interfere in the voting.
“I ask the Spanish post office to work more, morning, afternoon and night,” Núñez Feijóo he said at a campaign meeting in Murcia on Wednesday. “Even if they don’t have enough incentives, I want them to know that they have been given something sacred to the Spanish people: their vote.”
“Regardless of your bosses, I ask you to distribute all the votes on time so that we, the people of Spain, can vote,” he added.
Current rating project Núñez Feijóo to get the most votes in the upcoming election, with his Popular Party currently 4 points ahead of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialists.
Neither party is expected to win, meaning they will need to form coalitions to govern. Núñez Feijóo has expressed his desire to form a government with the right-wing Vox party, while Sánchez is interested in forming a left-wing coalition government similar to his predecessor from 2019.
Correos responded to Feijóo’s comments with an angry tone as he defended the expertise of his 45,000 employees and rejected any negative suggestions.
“Correos wants to remain outside of any controversy that seeks to interfere with public institutions and services,” he said, stressing that the postal service has carried out its duties effectively during its 307 years of existence.
“Voting by mail in Spain is safe and secure,” he said. “The Central Electoral Board, an independent body, is in charge of the monitoring process and ensures that it is carried out with full assurance to the citizens.”
Sanchez too to be burdened in this case, he accuses Núñez Feijóo of trying to undermine trust in public institutions with the main goal of confusing voters in the coalition governments that his party is creating with Vox in regions like Valencia and Extremadura.
“This is a smear campaign that aims to make people distrust the elections and not vote,” Sánchez said. “But Spain is a strong democracy and we will have a clean and democratic process.”
Madrid resident Rodríguez said he believes in Spain’s postal system and Correos’ ability to cast ballots effectively.
“The people of the Canary Islands are used to sending our votes,” he said. “This method has worked in the past and although many people vote this way, I believe it will be better this time.”