Blank votes become a "political force" in Spain
More than 400,000 Spaniards are expected to deposit blank ballots in Sunday's parliamentary elections, the news agency EFE reported Wednesday.6 March 2008
MADRID - More than 400,000 Spaniards are expected to deposit blank ballots in Sunday's parliamentary elections, the news agency EFE reported Wednesday, describing blank voting as a growing trend.
The number of blank votes has increased eightfold since the first democratic elections after the 1975 death of dictator Francisco Franco.
In 2004, blank ballots made up 1.6 percent of votes, making such voters the fifth-strongest political force.
An initiative called Citizens in White wants the electoral law to be modified for parliament to have a number of empty seats corresponding to the number of blank votes.
Voters leaving their ballots empty are usually dissatisfied with the existing parties or disillusioned with politics.
More than 10 million Spaniards watched live television debates between Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and conservative opposition candidate Mariano Rajoy.
Despite interest in the much-advertised debates, about a third of voters disliked the aggressive campaigns of the two main parties, according to a recent poll.
[Copyright dpa 2008]