This Sunday, May 28, regional and municipal elections will be held in our country. Specifically, the elections will be held in twelve autonomous communities (Aragon, Asturias, the Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, the Valencian Community, Extremadura, La Rioja, the Community of Madrid, Murcia and Navarra) as well as in the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla. . On the other hand, municipal elections will be held throughout Spain.
Everyone to your posts. These elections acquire special importance since general elections must be held at the end of this year, and the parties want to consolidate their position in view of that date. Thus, as Spain abandoned the two-party model years ago, understanding the operation of the D’Hondt Law is key to knowing the possibilities of representation of the smallest parties and, in parallel, the government options of the large political formations.
Belgian origin. According to the Ministry of the Interior, the D’Hondt method is the system used “to distribute the seats or councilors among the candidacies in proportion to the number of votes obtained.” This system, created by the Belgian jurist and mathematician Victor D’Hondt in 1878, orders the electoral results from highest to lowest, calculating the percentage of each one of the total valid votes, taking into account the blank votes.
Democracy but without fragmenting. However, the D’Hondt method establishes a minimum percentage of votes “to avoid excessive fragmentation of the chamber or the corporation,” according to the Ministry now headed by Fernando Grande-Marlaska. Next, “a table with as many columns as the number of seats or councilors to be distributed” is prepared, completing each column with the number of votes for each candidacy divided by 1, 2, 3, until all the seats to be distributed are completed.
Finally, the seats or councilors are assigned to the highest coefficients, in descending order. That is, if a council has twelve seats, the twelve highest coefficients will be selected.
Blank votes are counted as valid votes, invalid votes and abstentions are not.
In this distribution, 3% of the valid votes is 288.6. Party F is eliminated but party E enters the cast and wins a seat. pic.twitter.com/IK30jYpL6Q
— Socrates (@icantsutup) May 24, 2023
The electoral barrier. Therefore, in order not to be ruled out, each candidacy must reach a minimum percentage of votes. In the case of general elections in Spain, this percentage is 3%, while in local elections it is 5%. In the case of autonomous elections, each community establishes in its statutes the minimum percentage of votes that must be reached to have representation.
The autonomies, between 3% and 5%. Thus, eight autonomous communities mark the voting threshold in 3% of the electoral constituency: Asturias, the Basque Country, Navarra, Aragon, Catalonia, Castilla y León and Castilla-La Mancha. On the other hand, Galicia, Cantabria, La Rioja, the Community of Madrid, the Balearic Islands, Ceuta and Melilla set it at 5% of the electoral district.
Accounts to the Extremaduran and the Valencian. Additionally, other communities also establish the so-called electoral barrier at 5% of the votes, although with different criteria. In Extremadura, although the statute sets the limit of 5% of the votes in a constituency, it also allows candidacies to have representation if they have been presented in Cáceres and Badajoz and, as a whole, have achieved 5% of the votes . In the case of the Valencian Community, the threshold is 5% of all valid votes made in the region.
The canary case. For its part, in the Canary Islands the number of seats is distributed in two different ways: by insular and autonomous constituency. In the case of the seats distributed by island constituency, the candidacies may obtain representation if they obtain 15% of the valid votes in the insular constituency or if adding all the insular constituencies they obtain 4% of the votes. In the case of the seats distributed by autonomous constituency, the candidacies must obtain 4% of the valid votes of the entire community to achieve representation.
Accounts favorable to the great ones. In other words, the final distribution of the seats or councilors depends on the number of candidacies that overcome the stipulated electoral barrier. This is important since if a candidacy is left without representation, the number of seats or councilors to distribute among the formations that do achieve representation, favoring the parties with the most votes.
The useful vote That is the reason why the PSOE and the PP have appealed in recent weeks to concepts such as the useful vote and the concentration of the vote, in the electoral rallies held in the regions where they have the best chance of winning. For their part, the smaller parties also appeal to similar concepts in places where the statistics indicate doubts about whether they will obtain parliamentary representation.
The purple strategic vote. On May 13, Ione Belarra, general secretary of Podemos, stated at a rally held in the Madrid neighborhood of Chueca that “the most strategic vote to remove Almeida from the City Council” was the one destined for Roberto Sotomayor, candidate of Podemos -in coalition with Izquierda Unida and Alianza Verde – to the Mayor of Madrid. In this sense, the data from a 40 dB survey recently prepared for El País and Cadena SER indicated that an entry of Podemos in the city council would prevent an absolute majority of the PP.
According to Belén Barreiro, “if Ciudadanos does not enter and Podemos does, there can be an unlikely victory, but not an impossible one for the left. She said so in statements to El País, noting that, however, it is most likely a right-wing government in the city of Madrid.
The Ayuso example. In regional terms, the 40db survey gives the absolute majority to Isabel Díaz Ayuso, granting 69 seats to the PP. However, since Vox would manage to keep its 13 seats, the success of the conservative leader depends on whether Podemos, along with IU and Alianza Verde, obtain parliamentary representation: if they achieve 5% of the votes, they would obtain a minimum of seven seats, which which would prevent the Popular Party from obtaining an absolute majority.
In Valencia with the calculator. Thus, Podemos will seek to persuade left-wing voters to guarantee 5% of the vote, a strategy that could reduce voters from other progressive formations, specifically Más Madrid, reducing the number of seats in this party. This is, on the other hand, the same strategy that the forces to the left of the PSOE are following in the Valencian Community: the absorption of Ciudadanos by the PP complicates the reissue of the Botànic pact, an agreement that to be achieved requires that Podemos achieve the 5% of the votes.
Orange restlessness. For its part, the orange formation, which in 2017 won the regional elections in Catalonia, has been in a regressive dynamic for some time that threatens to erase it from the political map. Aware of this, Patricia Guasp, national spokesperson for Ciudadanos, recently stated in conversations with Europa Press that her party constitutes the “useful vote” for the upcoming municipal and regional elections.
The Manchegan example. This is how Guasp intends to avoid what can happen in Castilla-La Mancha according to a survey recently published by RTVE, which indicates that the orange formation would not obtain parliamentary representation by reaping only 2% of the votes. On the other hand, these data reveal that Podemos, even obtaining more than 5% of the votes, would remain out of parliament. This reveals the enormous difficulties that minority political parties have under the D’Hondt Law.
Big difference. In short, the parliamentary representation of small parties is not only a vital issue for them, but also for the formations with the most votes. In the Community of Madrid, for example, the 5% threshold means that a party can go from 0 to 7 seats, which has a direct influence on the chances of victory -or absolute majority- of the parties with the most votes.
For this reason, influencing the strategic or useful nature of the vote for the smallest formations as a plan to avoid the victory of a rival candidacy is a widely used political communication tactic.
In Xataka | What is the useful vote, how it works in the electoral system and who benefits in the general elections