Certain areas in the Valencia region are seeing a growing number of voter registrations on their municipal rolls as the regional election race approaches.
In Finestrat, for example, where in 2007 the Popular Party won by just 18 votes over the Valencian Socialists, 76 new registrations were recorded at the end of last year. The Valencian Socialist Party (PSPV) is challenging these new voters by filing a complaint with the Alicante Electoral Roll Office.
"They have refused to give us the municipal roll list on three occasions," said Vicente Martínez, the spokesman for the Socialists. He said that party members have gone door to door to check on the so-called "new neighbors" but "none of them actually live in the municipality."
"Some of these places have inhumane living conditions and have been padlocked for many years. Most of the houses in which these people have registered are owned by the mayor [Honorato Algado, of the Popular Party], as well as other executive members of the PP in Finestrat," he said.
The Popular Party has denied the allegations and is defending the veracity of its lists.
The party's spokesman in Finestrat, Juan Francisco García, confirmed on Wednesday that the roll is "in strict compliance with current legislation." García said that "the growth of Finestrat has been continuous over the last two years and there has been no suspicious population increase in the months leading up to the close of the registration period."
In their complaints about alleged irregularities in Finestrat, the Socialists have highlighted some striking cases. They say three people have registered in a home that does not even have electricity, while four others are in a house that is clearly dilapidated and in ruins. Three others are in a building that was the former headquarters of the PP, and still has the party logo on the door. Some 17 new voters come from five houses that are separated by just 100 meters from three families linked to the local PP in Finestrat.
Another striking example is the registration of 17 people in an apartment building in La Cala Hannibal. These apartments are classed as tourist units, which are rented during high season.
"We believe this data may just be the tip of the iceberg of a manipulated roll," says the Socialist spokesman, who adds that the party will take legal action to disqualify these voters.
"We've done town hall's work, which is simply checking the accuracy of the rolls. But of course, coincidentally, all of these correspond to homes belonging to people with connections to the PP," Martínez said.
The PSPV believes that many of the voter registrations are related to a procurement bid offered by the local government last year, the suggestion being that those applying for the tender were obliged to register on certain municipal rolls beforehand.