Vote in Portugal’s local council elections

news: Vote in Portugal’s local council elections

• Andreia Sancho of the Junta de Freguesia de Montenegro
• Andreia Sancho of the Junta de Freguesia de Montenegro

PORTUGAL’S LOCAL council elections are almost upon us and if you want to have a say in how your borough is run – this is your opportunity!Don’t waste your right to vote. This is your chance to reward your local Câmara and Junta de Freguesia Presidents for their good management, by voting for them to stay in power. Or, if you feel the service in your borough or parish has been less than satisfactory, exercise your right to voice this view by giving those in charge the ‘thumbs down’ and vote for an alternative candidate.

Candidates are already campaigning hard and you have probably noticed the posters and leaflets around your local area. The majority of campaign materials are printed in Portuguese, but, for those of you who haven’t yet got to grips with the language, the messages are usually quite short and simple to decipher. If not, ask your Portuguese friends, colleagues and neighbours to help you!

Or, if you have been keeping up to date with local news by reading The Resident every week, this may have already helped in your formulation of a view concerning the governing of your area. But, of course, nothing beats personal experience gained by living in the area.

Here is a guide to voting in the local elections:

When do the local elections take place in Portugal?

October 9 2005.

Am I eligible to vote?

• You must be at least 18 years old on October 9 2005 and be officially resident in Portugal. You will be given a provisional card if you are 17 years old at the time of registering.

• If your home country offers reciprocal voting rights to Portuguese citizens living there, you will be able to vote in local elections in Portugal, however, conditions apply – see below.

• The following are eligible to vote in the local elections of October 9 2005.

o Nationals of European Union Member States who are resident in Portugal.

o Nationals of Portuguese speaking countries who have been resident in Portugal for more than two years (Brazil and Cape Verde).

o Nationals of Argentina, Chile, Israel, Norway, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela who have been resident in Portugal for three years or more.

How do I register to vote?

Visit your local Junta de Freguesia (parish council office), taking along your valid Cartão de Residência (residency card).

When can I register?

The usual opening times at Juntas de Freguesias are 9am – 12.30pm and 2pm – 5pm, however, check at your local office as timetables may vary.

How long does it

take to register?

It depends on how many people are attempting to register at the same time and the staffing levels at your local Junta de Freguesia. However, often the registration can be processed while you wait and your Cartão de Eleitor (voting card) is issued the same day.

What type of card

will I receive?

• Portuguese nationals receive a white voting card

• EU citizens receive a blue card

• Other eligble nationals receive yellow

What is the closing date

for registration?

60 days prior to the elections – in this case, August 8 2005

Do I need to transfer my registration if I have moved?

If you now live in a new borough or parish, you will need to take your existing voting card to your new local Junta de Freguesia and they will give you the relevant forms to arrange the transfer. Please note that your Residência card must be updated with your new address first.

Who can you vote for at these elections?

Your choice of president (mayor) for the borough (Câmara) in which you live.

Your choice of president for the parish council (Junta de Freguesia) in which you live.

(Information kindly supplied by the Junta de Freguesia de Montenegro, Faro)

What do you think about the local elections?

At the Junta de Freguesia in Montenegro, Faro, The Resident was told that less than 10 non-Portuguese residents have so far registered to vote in the forthcoming local elections.Although the area is mainly Portuguese, it is thought that there are some local foreign residents who have not yet taken the opportunity to register.

The Resident wanted to find out just how important local elections are and if people are aware of them – and, more importantly, if they will actually vote. Reactions were mixed.

– Jane Russell from Ludo (Loulé) commented: “I have seen the campaign posters in my area and I have decided I will register to vote this week. It is important to me to be involved in what takes place in my area.”

– António Costa also from Ludo commented: “Yes, I will vote and I will vote for Seruca Emídio, the current president of Loulé to stay in power.”

– Helen Parks from Albufeira said: “I didn’t know they were due to take place and I didn’t realise I could vote. I am going to look into it now.”

– Susana Ferreira from Faro commented: “I am only registered to vote in my town in the north of Portugal and I haven’t transferred my registration – it is not important to me.”

– Diogo Reis also from Faro said: “I will vote, but, at the moment, I don’t know much about the candidates.”

– Sarah Bartlett from Lagoa says: “To be honest, it is not at the top of my priority list. I have more important things to think about. I have not registered because I don’t have time. It doesn’t seem to make a difference who is in power anyway, because the reality is always different from the pledges made during the campaign period.”