Protest in Algarve as Portugal goes to the polls for the first time since the pandemic

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With 9.3 million people eligible to vote in municipal elections today, a small group in the Algarve has taken a stand in boycotting the entire process as their demands for the most basic health infrastructure are still being ignored.

The Ria Formosa community of Hangares (on the island of Culatra) survives without mains drainage, electricity or even running water.

Despite having a pontoon near their homes, the ferry from the mainland only stops at Culatra, or Farol – leaving the inhabitants of Hangares, invariably loaded with errands, to trudge across the sand.

The residents’ association has been calling for adequate conditions for nearly 20 years. The promises, no matter what the game, simply evaporate, which is why officials at the Culatra school polling room found the doors padlocked this morning, with Hangares residents out in force, hanging on a banner on the school doors to highlight a fate that has no place in a developed country in the 21st century.

As always happens with Islander protests (these people had to fight tooth and nail to keep their homes click here) they didn’t get their share and now it was time to come home.

No one from Hangares will vote in these elections, regardless of the plea made last night on national television by President Marcelo that all citizens “do their civic duty” and vote for what he called “the recovery of Portugal. “.

“People are very disappointed and feel abandoned,” explains José Lezinho: as a community, Hangares has been boycotting the elections since 2002 – again for the same reason: the lack of basic infrastructure.

But Hangares does not have a monopoly on disillusionment. Today there are communities across the country hoping for “change”, for action – something beyond the “more the same”.

Diário de Notícias reports that there have never been as many parties in the contest as there are now, eagerly awaiting the outcome of the vote which continues until 8 p.m. tonight.

TV stations will broadcast commentary on how the results will evolve from then until the wee hours of Monday.

The 9.3 million people eligible to vote this year are actually fewer than those who were able to vote in the previous election in 2017, but it is hoped that the traditionally high abstention rate will be lower, especially more than President Marcelo argued that voting today “is more important than ever”.

His message to the country last night was that voting in these elections “is a double duty of conscience: in memory of this year and a half that we will never forget; for the desire to emerge definitively from this crisis and to start living a life to which we are all entitled ”.

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