The Algarve Resident has always endeavoured to inform its readers, many of whom are residents of Portugal, about the importance of voting in the Local Elections (Eleições Autárquicas), a right they should exercise.
We are often contacted by readers complaining about council decisions that have affected their lives at many levels and have led to widespread contestation from residents calling for change, a new direction and even a new leader.
However, you may have found that your local Mayor or Junta de Freguesia president has been instrumental in transforming your area into a more pleasant place to live, applying measures that have improved your quality of life and enjoyment of the Algarve.
This is precisely why you should vote – vote for change, for a new leader and hopefully a better future; or vote to keep your local leaders in their roles to ensure continuity of their good work.
If this is not possible because they have reached the end of their mandate, then you should vote for the candidate that better fulfils the criteria you are looking for in a council official.
However, if you feel you have not warmed to any of the candidates running for council roles and do not identify with any of their political ideologies, as a voter you can opt to cast a blank vote (‘voto em branco’) or choose to spoil your vote (‘voto nulo’).
What matters is that you take a more active role in the issues that affect your life in Portugal, be it at a social, economic or political level. And remember, your participation will make a difference.
If you aren’t yet registered as a voter in Portugal, it is regrettably too late to participate in this Sunday’s election, however, you may wish to consider your options for the 2017 ‘autárquicas’.
European Union citizens, as well as individuals from Portuguese-speaking countries, who have been in the possession of a residence card (Cartão de Residência) for two years and live in Portugal, are eligible to vote and may register at their local parish council.
Citizens from Argentina, Israel, Norway, Peru and Uruguay are also allowed to vote, as long as they hold the necessary documents and have lived in Portugal for at least three years.
To register, foreigners must visit their local parish council (Junta de Freguesia) up to 60 days before the elections take place. EU citizens are asked to take their valid residence card and passport (required at some offices) and request to be placed on the Electoral Register. The staff in the parish council will fill out the form and ask the soon-to-be voters to return when the voter’s card (Cartão de Eleitor) is ready.
As the Algarve Resident reported in an article in June, the power of the expatriate vote, especially in a region like the Algarve with such a vast foreign community, has only recently begun to be taken into account. However, recent local elections have seen councils acknowledge their importance and have started nominating foreign representatives to attract their vote and encourage them to participate.
What you need to do on Election Day
For those foreign residents who are going to vote in the local elections on Sunday, September 29, here is a step-by-step guide to what you need to do on the day:
1. First, you need to know where to go in your area to vote. Ask your local Junta de Freguesia. Polling locations will be open from 8am to 7pm.
2. Take with you your identification (passport or Residência) and your voting card or paper that shows you are registered to vote.
3. On arrival, someone will indicate which room or section where you must show your paperwork to the officials at the table.
4. There are three voting papers (boletim de voto) of different colours …
– One for the Borough Council (Câmara Municipal) – colour green
– One for the Borough Assembly (Assembleia Municipal) – colour yellow
– One for the Assembly of your Parish Council (Junta da Freguesia Assembleia) – colour white
5. You must put your vote on ALL three papers.
6. Put a cross (X) or plus sign (+) in the box of your choice on each paper.
7. VERY IMPORTANT: the papers will not show the names of the candidates, only the party logo. Therefore, you need to remember the symbol of the party of your chosen candidates. If you make a mistake, you may request another form from the officials.
8. Fold the three papers separately and in two and place in the urn.
Meet the Candidates by clicking on the link below :