At Casa ‘Tene’ these days we only talk about politics, although Julia, the owner, doesn’t like it very much. Waiters and customers of this small inn in Almazán, in the province of Soria, do not take their eyes off the regional news, which balance of the historic victory of Soria Now! in the autonomous elections of Castilla y León last Sunday.
“In the end there were three solicitors”, one of the parishioners tells the waiter, ‘Tene’, who nods, looking askance at his wife. Julia moves with agility between the five tables that are crowded in this small place while she moves plates and coffees in the middle of lunch time. But she does not miss the opportunity to divert the conversation when the socialist Óscar Puente, mayor of Valladolid, whose formation has lost strength in Soria after these elections, appears on the screen. “His daughter has been in a game show on television,” he says.
While she goes into the kitchen, her husband picks up the talk about the success of the group from Soria from behind the bar. “Here we all know each other, and they will have to explain what they do,” he says.
Beyond the result of the regional elections, which have made Vox the key to the Government of Castilla y León for a PP that has not grown as much as expected, the conversations of many revolve around Soria ¡Ya!a movement with solid roots in associationism that has made the leap to politics this 2022 and has won the elections in Soria capital and 91 other municipalities.
A transversal movement that “excites”
For most Sorianos interviewed by DatosRTVE, transversality is the main virtue of training led by Ángel Ceña. Voters of PP, PSOE, Ciudadanos, Vox or even abstentionists say they have switched to this platform of the Emptied Spain with the hope that it better represents the interests of the region.
“Whoever governs, does not do anything for us,” Ana complains. She is an administrative worker and has taken advantage of a break from work to do some shopping. In the last elections, Ana had voted for the PP, but believes that a “wake-up call” was needed for politicians to take into account the needs of this province.
While she complains about the lack of a radiology unit in the hospital closest to Almazán, a municipality of just over 5,000 inhabitants where life is organized around the national highway that crosses it from end to end; Santos, who walks to work, demands improvements in the railway infrastructure and in the highway between Soria and Valladolid.
“They have been building for years, but they never finish it,” laments this neighbor who explains why changed the meaning of his vote at the last moment. He was going to vote for Vox, but when he found out that a friend of his was appearing on the lists of Soria ¡Ya!, he was clear. “I think the result will bring benefits to the province,” reflects Santos, who insists on the confidence that his friend grew up in the town.
Alba is also excited about the result: “I don’t think they even expected it”. In addition, this graphic designer in her twenties ensures that the associative origin of the party has weighed heavily on his decision. “He has united many voices for a common goal and attached to the needs of the earth”, he values, before acknowledging that he voted for the PSOE in the last elections because Soria ¡Ya! it did not yet exist as a political movement.
A shock wave from large municipalities to the entire province
With less than 20,000 votes in which those under 30 and high-income people are highly represented, Syria Now! 13F won with the three cheapest seats in the political history of Castilla y León. Three representatives in courts of which Sorianos expect a capacity to impose the agenda and interests of the province similar to what other formations have had within this territory, such as Unión del Pueblo Leonés (UPL), or outside it, such as Teruel Exists.
“As it is divided [el hemiciclo], three votes can be decisive”, says Toño under the snow that falls on the center of Soria capital. Although it has not been his best result, it does not seem by chance that Soria ¡Ya! has achieved in this city more than 50% of the votes. As the graph below shows, more than a quarter of the ballots that have been deposited in each of the 11 most populous municipalities in the province have been for formation.
“Every Christmas we asked them if they were finally going to make the leap into politics,” Eliseo tells DatosRTVE. This lawyer and his partner – who have always voted left and right, respectively – recognize that, for once, they have agreed to support Soria ¡Ya!
“They have managed to channel the disenchantment of a community”, affirms Eliseo, who is convinced that will vote for them if they run for general election, in which they could seat a deputy in Congress if the results of the regional elections are repeated. “It cannot be that we have to wait an hour for a Netflix movie to load before watching it,” he protests, to exemplify one of the solutions that Soria ¡Ya! could achieve from Madrid.
Rural areas prefer to wait for the municipal ones
At the Plaza Bar, Quintana Redonda, the neighbors do not take their eyes off the territorial news either. “I just found out the news!” exclaims Luis Mariano, while he savors a coffee. While other patrons play cards in the back of the bar, this retiree admits that did not vote in the previous electionsbut what He has been encouraged to do so in these “for the proposals of Soria ¡Ya!”. “It would be very good for us to have a regular doctor in the area,” he claims. Although he admits that, with only three of the 81 seats that make up the Cortes de Castilla y León, “you have to be aware of what can be achieved and what is not”.
Esperanza, on the other hand, has not voted. She explains it as she walks with her grandson towards the plaza of a town that does not even have 500 inhabitants: “I only vote in the municipal ones, because the mayor is elected there. The others [políticos autonómicos y nacionales] they only remember the towns every four years, but they forget as soon as they sit down in the armchair”.
The results of Soria Now! they have also been good in a large part of the rural municipalities, although the percentage that came out of the polls in these territories is conditioned by the scarcity of the population.
This is what has happened in Rello, where this match has achieved its second best result: 75% of the votes, with the ballots of six of the eight neighbors who went to vote. In this town of the Community of Villa y Tierra de Berlanga, there are more workers than residents, and also the occasional tourist who arrives attracted by the restoration of the town’s walls.
Felisa, who does not want to give her real name “because everyone knows everyone there,” refuses to reveal to DatosRTVE who she has voted for. “That is not said,” she admonishes, although she happily explains that the town’s bar and social center opened exceptionally to host the election.
While this octogenarian tanned by the years and life in the countryside walks with a sack of firewood on his shoulder, houses boarded up or closed to lime and song they see it pass without looking at it; waiting for winter to end.
She doesn’t want to talk anymore so they won’t recognize her, but she assures she doesn’t care what happens in Valladolid or Madridbecause whoever knows what is happening in her town is the mayor, and she already voted for her a couple of years ago.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.