“If they want me to leave, they will have to kick me out,” was the final message from the Podemos candidate for the presidency of the Region of Murcia, María Marín, before the electoral debate for the regional elections was cancelled. Marín had to leave the lectern in the middle of the program and share her speaking time with Equo, the party with which she formed a coalition in the previous 2019 elections. But the candidate from the purple party did not move. After 30 minutes of publicity to determine what to do in the face of this unusual situation, it was decided to cancel the debate: “In the previous elections they were in a coalition and in these they have separated, therefore they should appear separately for half the time for each of the two options”, explained before closing the program the journalists Sonia Illán and Luis Alcázar, who moderated the debate.
The Municipal Electoral Board was the one who made the decision after an appeal presented by Equo: “We explained that in 2019 Equo was part of the list with Podemos, that we were in that coalition and that I have been a deputy of the Assembly since February”, explains the candidate from Más Región-Verdes Equo Helena Vidal, who was unable to participate in the debate due to its cancellation.
“Regarding the scheduled debate, there cannot be at the same time a representative of Podemos-Izquierda Unida-Alianza Verde and another of Más Región-Verdes Equo, as this would mean that the coalition with the least votes in 2019 would have two representatives in the debate,” explains the Municipal Electoral Board. “The first part of the debate will have to appear a single representative of a formation Podemos-Izquierda Unida-Alianza Verde and in the second part of the other formation Más Región-Verdes Equo”, he concludes.
Marín denounces that the television host of the debate, 7RM, has behaved “very badly” with Podemos: “If the resolution of the Central Board does not come out until Tuesday, they should have allowed all the candidates to participate equally until the issue is resolved. appeal, or move the debate until there was a final sentence that we all had to abide by ”. In the absence of the resolution of the Central Electoral Board, the opinion to abide by was that of the Provincial Electoral Board, which argues that Podemos and Equo cannot share the same space: “Being part of the same electoral list in 2019 we did not have the right of being both at the same time ”, reiterates Vidal.
The candidate for Podemos defends that from the television network “they could have said that Equo appeared first with the first blocks and then Podemos, because it has 98% of the coalition, would make the second blocks and thus have the golden minute.” Leaving aside the fact that altering the order of participation would have contravened the opinion of the Municipal Electoral Board, this body decided that the time of both parties be divided in half in accordance with the agreements of the Central Electoral Board that stipulate that “the total number of votes obtained by the coalition in the aforementioned elections must be divided by the total number of seats obtained by the same and multiply that figure by the number of candidates of the political entity, which now runs alone, who obtained a seat ”. It clarifies that in this case, where it is not possible to apportion the votes obtained by a candidacy of an electoral coalition -since these were obtained by the group as a whole without specifying those obtained by each political formation- the number of votes must be distributed equally among the political formations that make up the coalition.
Podemos assures that this division of votes took place through an agreement between Podemos and Equo prior to the elections: “The agreement with Equo was 98% for everything. Like when you form a company and I can have 3% of the shares and you have 97%”. For his part, the coordinator of Más Región, Oscar Urralburu, defends that “pre-election agreements are of a political nature, they have no value in the decisions of the Board.” The Provincial Electoral Board agrees with Equo, and reiterates that “neither in the edict of proclamation of candidates, nor in the minutes of the votes obtained by said coalition, nor in the ballots of the parties in the coalition, do the initials of the party appear to which the coalition candidates belong.”
“I have asked for a debate on equality”
The Equo candidate regrets not having been able to participate in the debate: “If María Marín had really wanted us to share the debate space and did not want to comply with the Board’s decision, she would have refused to speak from the outset. But she wanted her time and then she refused to leave so that I could not enter the debate, ”says Vidal.
The Podemos candidate defends that she “did not steal” the debate from Equo, arguing that she invested her first speech in defending Vidal’s right to be in the debate as a candidate.
Regarding what happened, Helena Vidal requests that the debate be repeated and regrets that “after all this circus there has been no talk of youth policies, housing, or good governance. We have not had the opportunity to listen to the measures of the other political formations, and none of our formation”.
The Official College of Journalists of the Region of Murcia has also ruled on this incident, describing Marín’s attitude as “undemocratic behavior.” The body says it “deeply” regrets what they describe as a “shameful spectacle” of the candidate, “whose contempt of the Electoral Board prevented the completion of the electoral debate organized by this Corporation, as well as the participation in it of the head of the list of More Region-Greens Equo, Helena Vidal”. From the group of communication professionals, they point out that the provisions of the Electoral Board in a broadcast and televised debate are mandatory, “whether or not the meaning of the resolution is shared.”
Half an hour, two versions
Vidal recalls that during the publicity break that took place after the Podemos candidate refused to withdraw, journalists and organizers tried to “make Marín see that they were abiding by the Junta’s decision, because she accused them of being on the side of the PP”. According to the Equo candidate, at that moment “everyone raised their tone”: “There was a moment when María Marín picked up her things, she left the lectern and I placed myself. But her advisers began to yell at her to go back inside her and take her place. Maria obeyed and returned quickly, ”she recounts.
For his part, Marín denies that Vidal was placed on the lectern: “I again asked both the College of Journalists and the entity to put another lectern for the two deputies to debate. I took a walk around the set, but it’s a lie that Helena Vidal was at the lectern”.