The ins and outs of October’s local elections

Portugal’s local municipal elections will be taking place in just eight months’ time and thousands of foreigners may be eligible to vote without being aware of it. For the ins and outs of how to have a voice in October’s ‘Autárquicas’ read on.

As election website Portal do Eleitor explains, the right to vote is open to European Union citizens – as well as citizens of Portuguese-speaking countries – who have lived in Portugal for over two years and carry valid residency papers.

It is also open to citizens from Argentina, Chile, Iceland, Norway, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela and New Zealand if they have lived in Portugal for over three years, and have taken out residency.

Expats simply have to fill out the necessary forms at their local parish council offices.

Surprisingly, a study released last year by Portugal’s Migration Observatory showed that only 13.7% of foreigners (27,280) eligible to vote are registered on the electoral rolls.

Público newspaper claims expat interest in local elections has always been low, though it is beginning to pick up.

High Commissioner for Migrations Pedro Calado says expats’ “lack of knowledge of their rights” as well as concern about “losing voting rights in their country of origin” are issues that have caused confusion.

Who is running for office?

Meantime, political parties have started announcing candidates for the Algarve ballot. For the moment, many boroughs are only certain of their acting mayors being in the race. Closer to October, other candidates from different parties will be fielded. In other words, this list of political options will grow.

• Vila do Bispo – Adelino Soares (PS)
• Aljezur – José Amarelinho (PS)
• Lagos – Maria Joaquina Matos (PS)
• Portimão – Isilda Gomes (PS)
• Monchique – Rui André (PSD)
• Lagoa – Francisco Martins (PS)
• Silves – Rosa Palma (PCP); Fátima Matos (PS)
• Albufeira – Carlos Silva e Sousa (PSD); Ricardo Clemente (PS)
• Loulé – Vítor Aleixo (PS)
• Faro – Rogério Bacalhau (PSD); António Eusébio (PS)
• São Brás de Alportel – Vítor Guerreiro (PS); Bruno Costa (PSD)
• Olhão – António Pina (PS)
• Tavira – Jorge Botelho (PS)
• Vila Real de Santo António – António Murta (PS)
• Castro Marim – Célia Brito (PS)
• Alcoutim – Osvaldo Gonçalves (PS)