Runners and Riders

Jávea Municipal elections 2011

Assessing the runners and riders - My racing tips and forecast.

by Guiomar Ramirez-Montesinos in collaboration with Christine Betterton-Jones, from an original article in Spanish by Guiomar Ramirez-Montesinos which appeared in Xàbia al Día, special 2011 election special :
This English version appears in the May Edition of the Grapevine.

Assessing the runners and Riders


Voting is not easy if you are a civic minded person. To make the right decision according to your principles is sometimes more complicated than at first sight, especially if you consider how coalitions might be formed when a governing team is put together.

The next Jávea municipal election is a nine-horse race. There are the major parties, PP to the right and PSOE to the left; the nationalist Bloc-Centristas, the independents: Xàbia Democrática, Nueva Jávea and Ciudadanos por Jávea, as well as fringe Esquerra Republicana, Junts per Xàbia and the newly formed Unión Ciudadana por la Democracia. The ninth candidate is an also ran; the Esquerra Unida pel Pais Valencià, has no local representatives, and their sole purpose is to get regional subsidies via the number of votes they get.

It's not been easy to get the party lists together, and many have had to scrape the barrel to complete them. Divisions, discontent and a poor overall image of politicians has not helped. So some parties have had to pull in friends and family to fill their list of 21 required candidates (that's the number of Councillors in Xàbia and the minimum number of candidates needed on the list). This is why you only have to look at the first three or four candidates on each list, and then assess which groups are more likely to score more, and look at their top 10. In many cases the people down the list are just filling the slots. They are often not even activists, but have agreed to come forward to support a party with which they have an affinity. (See Who's who in the party lists)

Every citizen has the responsibility to vote. The problem is the disappointment which often occurs after seeing the results of a previous term of office. This leads to a disinterest in politics. Nevertheless, we are all responsible for our political decisions, whether they be proactive and participatory or passive.

Through the analysis presented in this magazine I try to give a comprehensive but accessible view of the political reality of Jávea. I have tried to be as objective as possible, but the reader must create his own informed opinion, reading the manifestos of each candidate and trying to get up close to the would be mayors at the various rallies.

However, I believe that the next elections will mark a transition in the form of government in Jávea, because the winner, whoever he is, will promote participatory democracy, and at last the people and not the politicians will be the big winners.

Divisions in the PP mark a split in the vote

To make my forecast, I have looked at the number of votes obtained by each party in the previous election and estimated the number of candidates they might win or lose this time round. I have considered popular opinion after four years of the current Administration and the views that people have of each group. As in the elections of 2007 it is certain that no single party will get an absolute majority, which in Jávea/Xàbia is achieved with 11 councillors, however, the Socialist PSOE has a good chance of gaining the most votes. This is because of the galvanising effect of its candidate, José Chulvi, and a program championed with clarity and strength. Tourism as the main engine of the local economy; e-government for greater efficiency and transparent administration; citizen participation at all levels both to create a joint vision of the town and in decision making; to listen to suggestions, to attend to petitions, etc.

Also in favour of Chulvi is his work during the 15 months he was in government. He created the Tourism Council and began developing a Strategic Plan for the town. In addition, there is the work he has done supporting the peoples' interests from the opposition; initiating the attempt to recover the town's ownership of the church, and trying to prevent the purchase of the underground car parks. All this, combined with his efforts to learn more about ways of improving administration (making contacts which resulted in presentations at the "Forum for Change" series of talks), make him the most prepared candidate.

Monfort's Bloc-Centristas, after a landslide in 2007, will surely be the big loser. This is a consequence of a style of management which has developed over the past four years. They have actually done a good job developing much more infrastructure than previous administrations, and have also stuck pretty much to their manifesto. But because of a disconnect with the people, an inability to take into account other peoples' views and the adoption of an attitude which could only be described as autistic and authoritarian, they have become generally disliked. Moreover, the nationalists have not been at all self-critical, and actually believe that they've done a great job. But the fact is that their policies are quite passive. They prefer to react instead of designing strategies that will help boost the local economy.

Once more, the great battle cry of the Bloc-Centristas, is "No!" to port expansion. They have adopted an ultraconservative stance about this, arguing that the only option is to do nothing. Today, just about everyone (including all the parties) is against port expansion, wanting to arrive at a general consensus on how to improve the Levante dock. However, the nationalists play on fear and interpret citizen participation in this decision as a sign of ambiguity. Nevertheless, this strategy enables them to retain voters.

Interestingly, the Bloc-Centristas is the only party in this election whose approach tries to justify such authoritarian political attitudes. In fact, not even the PP has followed this line, and has instead opted for total renewal. Moreover, the young candidate, José Juan Castelló, has been hand-picked by Valencia, and has nothing to do with the Jávea PP old guard.

With the selection of Castelló, the PP aims to break the mould in Jávea and, at a stroke, get rid of those politicians who have slowly leaked votes in the municipality. The PP list is so new, all but one candidate (Toni Sebastiá, who is fourth), are newcomers to politics. This decision, directed from the regional PP has not been sitting too well with many local PP supporters, initiating splits in the party. But it tries to seal major breaches which have developed within the group since the last internal party election. The PP will surely lose many votes. But at the same time, many faithful voters believe that the new candidate merits an opportunity.

Thus the right-wing vote is again divided in Jávea and shared between the PP, UCID, Xàbia Democrática, Nueva Jávea and even surprisingly, the PSOE as Jose Chulvi is the most highly rated candidate, despite his political colour

It will be interesting to see how the vote splits among the other parties, with Xàbia Democrática grabbing votes of many disgruntled PP and Nueva Jávea voters, while Esquerra Republicana will try to do the same with the nationalist vote.

Racing tips: Chulví's PSPV odds on favourite - Bloc-Centristas stumble at the water jump.


Bloc-Centristas: (Winner last time around, both horse and jockey now looking tired) Had seven Councillors in 2007. In four years they have managed to alienate everyone, making decisions contrary to popular opinion, such as the purchase of the underground car parks for 13.2 million euros. Although putting themselves up as the only defenders of "no" to port expansion, punishment at the polls will be noticeable. Two councillors.


PP: (New young filly, but with apprentice jockey under strict management from the stables). Five councillors in 2007. Fifteen months after the elections, the Bloc-Centristas broke a pact with the PSPV and formed a government with the PP, which, except for the active Councillor of Economic Development, has done or said almost nothing since, except to support the Mayor with votes. The new candidate is trying to break with the past of the local PP. He'll recover some votes, but many will be shared among the other parties. This one is difficult to call. Three or four councillors.


PSOE: (Horse from established stables, jockey experienced, but wears a red shirt) Four councillors in 2007. This will surely be the largest party in the upcoming elections. José Chulvi has proven to be the most prepared candidate, representing the interests of all Jávea's people irrespective of political colour, betting heavily on the modernization of administration, tourism as an economic engine and citizen participation. The enthusiasm and optimism that he generates exceeds that which the Bloc-Centristas had in 2007. However, it is possible that the colour of his shirt is too much for some to stomach: Seven or eight councillors.


Nueva Jávea: (Surprise front runner last time, now has new jockey) Four councillors in 2007. They were the great success story and received the vote of many conservative foreigners, thanks to Vasbinder and Dean, as well as the vote of many young people. But now they have lost Anton, and with him a good number of foreign voters. At the same time, the group has shown strength and has worked to defend the peoples' interests throughout the last Administration. Unlike other independent groups, whose followers tend to decrease rapidly, they will maintain a level similar to that of 2007 since they have incorporated more Spanish and javiense in their ranks. Three or four councillors.


Ciudadanos por Jávea: (Back marker which turns up at every race) One councillor in 2007. This party has been part of the government team since the beginning of the Administration, but has always maintained a low profile. As president of the Commission of San Juan Fiestas and the chairman of the Casa de Andalucía it has important assets, and has faithful voters. However, the dilution of votes among 8 parties may mean they can't make the weight. One councillor or none.


Xàbia Democrática: (The dark horse, an unknown filly with young jockey) This new party will be the sensation of these elections. With a major gamble on citizen participation and a wide social representation, including groups of traders, residents and fiestas, members of sports clubs and even Fontana canal users … also don't forget the British community. Very well represented by people involved in associations. Three or four councillors.


Esquerra Republicana, Junts per Xàbia: (Young, locally bred horse, inexperienced jockey) They could capture a share of the nationalist vote because they are committed to traditional values and a resounding "no" to the port, plus Web 2.0 administration and citizen participation. However, they are racing against Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, which is not as highly valued in the Comunidad Valenciana. On the plus side, they do have a number of independents. Councillors: One or none.


Unión de Ciudadanos por la Democracia: (Untrained horse, Jockey likely to be unseated at the first hurdle) Their formation is so new that it hardly gives them time to stand for election. Created in part by a split within the PP, this reminds me a of little parties like the CPJ and the late GIX. This is a very weak candidacy. One or none.

Which coalitions can be formed?

If you look at methods of governance, you can divide the parties into two groups. On the one hand there are those who clearly back citizen participation and open government and on the other, parties which belong to the old school (although they sometimes try to appear modern).

José Chulvi (PSOE) will probably receive the most votes, and he will have to decide how to form a government. Probably he will need about four more council members, and so he will have to agree with one or two parties to form a coalition. He has a long affinity with Nueva Jávea, as they have worked together in opposition on more than one occasion and there is harmony in the way they address issues. Xàbia Democrática could also be a good choice to join a governing coalition, since they, from the moment of their formation, have shared the PSOE's backing for real citizen participation.

The best thing for the town would be a government formed of these three, because a broad spectrum of the population would then be well represented. But there is still friction between Nueva Jávea and Xàbia Democrática, as the latter broke away from the former, an issue which could hamper the deal. In this case, if the ERPV gets a councillor, then the PSOE could form a government with Jaume Ivorra and one of the two aforementioned independent parties.

It is however possible that there could be another type of coalition in the Town Hall, not centred on the PSOE. Suppose the PP succeeds in gaining five councillors. With whom could they form a pact? No doubt it would be with their current partners in government, the Bloc-Centristas and CPJ (and this would be with the blessing of Valencia). In the best scenario, these two would have four councillors between them, and if UCID had another, the four parties could get close to achieving ten councillors.

They would still need one more for a majority. But from where? This "old school" group of parties has a very different way of doing politics to the others, and the two ways of working has been diverging during the last Administration. Perhaps, and despite everything that divides them, this could give the key to Xàbia Democrática to force negotiations to be included in the governing team. Provided of course, that the number of councillors they win would give the position of mayor to Castelló, or even Anton himself.

This option is not impossible, but unlikely. This is because the contrasting styles of doing politics in such a four party coalition would compromise governance and with it any attempt to encourage citizen participation and open government, a cornerstone of Xàbia Democrática's policies.

What will be will be. Let us hope that whichever coalition forms after the elections, it is the best coalition for all the people of Jávea.(Now cross your fingers and go and lay your bets.)

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