Spain: Concerns of Socialist Vote-Buying at General Election

Politics - November 25, 2023

The leader of the conservative party Vox (ECR), Santiago Abascal, has expressed on numerous occasions his concern that the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) (S&D) would do “anything to win”. “Anything” apparently includes buying votes, a contravention of Spanish electoral law, and an absence of dignity and respect for the institutions of democracy.

According to Abascal, since his investiture in 2019, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez adopted this Machiavellian approach to politics. Not only had Sánchez made agreements with separatist and pseudo-terrorist forces, but his party is the object of worrying accusations regarding voter fraud.

There are several documented cases of this kind of corruption in Spain, many of which the PSOE has been implicated in.

Not too long ago, during the campaign for the May 28 regional and local elections, some constituencies reported cases of vote theft and vote-buying from the PSOE.

The first case of this season occurred in the Spanish city of Melilla, where–again– the theft of votes was carried out by people linked to the Coalition for Melilla party.  For context, in 2021 the Supreme Court sentenced the then Secretary General of the PSOE and the President of the Coalition for Melilla for buying postal votes in exchange for employment plans in the 2008 Senate elections. The tribunal gave him two years in prison and disqualified him from holding political positions.

Shortly after, the Number 2 and Number 5 of the Socialist list to the City Council of Mojácar–a town in Southeastern Spain–were arrested after being accused with five other suspects of leading a plot that offered between 100 and 200 euros to people for their vote.

The Socialist government targeted Spanish-radicated immigrants from Hispanic-American counties such as Colombia, Ecuador, and Paraguay. In addition to offering them money in exchange for their votes,  investigators accused the Socialists of promising jobs in the City Council to citizens if they won the elections.

These are just a couple of cases from the long list of illegalities committed by the PSOE.

The authorities detained another Socialist candidate in the southeastern region of Murcia for buying votes in his constituency. Also, an investigation was carried out for possible electoral fraud in postal voting in the town of La Gomera in the Canary Islands.

In addition to the theft of votes that took place on these dates, the authorities documented a case of massive registrations in the houses of city councilmen and businessmen with links to the socialist City Council of the Almeria city in Andalucia. The investigation even pointed to twenty people registered in a single house.

This context is especially worrying given the date of the upcoming general election. It coincides with the (much-valued) summer season when many families are not in their habitual residences. This is the first time a Spanish general election takes place in July when temperatures tend to surpass 35 degrees in the past years.

Naturally, more postal votes than ever have been cast already. 2.6 million people have requested their vote by mail, twice as many as in the previous general election.

Due to the high demand, post offices have been forced to open for more hours and increase their staff. Despite Correos’ having formalized more than 20,000 reinforcement contracts, it seems that many citizens will be unable to vote.

91% of the people who have requested the documentation have already exercised their right to vote, but there are still 200,000 people who have not voted, 90,000 of which have not yet collected the ballot at the post offices.

To give a margin to all these people, the Central Electoral Board agreed to extend the deadline to vote by mail to the Friday before the election. But there was a latent worry that not all votes would be counted by the time polls close.