Despite the terrorist attack last Friday, the General Elections are proceeding normally.
Turn-out appears to be pretty high, just a couple percentage points lower than '04 which was a particularly high turnout year because Al Qaeda had just killed over 200 people in the Atocha train bombs and the Government was making a mess of trying to pin it on ETA.
High turnout is supposed to favour the Socialists (PSOE). A couple weeks back, a PP politician admitted to the Financial Times that they sought to increase abstention, since that would appear to favour them. The left-leaning electorate seems to be prissy. They stay at home when things aren't perfect and aggressive politics turn them off. The PP has headed a very harsh opposition during these past few years turning the political arena into a perpetual spat that makes every-one's heads throb. I guess it helps them secure their hardliners, but they need the moderates to win. The results today will show whether they are making a mistake. They are no friends of mine, but I kind of pity the moderates in the party, who are hurt by all this mudslinging.
I voted. I wonder what my American friends would think of our voting facilities. I voted in a school, around 6 pm, and the little pink slips of the Senate and white slips of Congress had begun to mingle nicely, although there were a couple people making sure that you could find the ballot you wanted. Due process was ensured, of course, but there was none of that protocol that goes on in French elections, for example, where you're supposed to take at least two slips and fill out your envelopes in a private booth (insuring that nobody can tell who you've voted for). Here, a couple of us were scrambling for the ballots for our party of choice. It was all very relaxed and I didn't see any private voting booths (although I'm certain I would have found them had I asked).
The stupid senate slips were so big that they had to be stuffed into the envelopes which then had to be stuffed through the narrow slits of the voting boxes. The girl who did mine seemed to have become proficient at it. In Spain, you don't put your own ballot into the box, someone from the table is in charge of doing it for you after they've correctly ID'd you and said your name out loud. After the ballot is inserted, the people on the table usually say "votes". Today, the women on the table seemed to be too tired of the whole jig and they just slipped the ballot in without a word.
I'll keep you updated. The election booths closed 18 minutes ago and results should start trickling in a couple of hours.
For those of you who don't know much about Spanish politics:
PSOE: ruling political party. The "S" stands for Socialist although they aren't much of that nowadays. Moderate lefties, they legalized gay marriage last term.
PP: right wing. They've become hard core in the last four years.