Monday, December 4

House by house or on the way to the orchard: this is how the electoral campaign is carried out in the smallest town in Cantabria

Tresviso is the smallest municipality in Cantabria. This town with less than 60 inhabitants, belonging to the Liébana region, is located in the heart of the Picos de Europa, at an altitude of about 900 meters and its isolation is evident. In fact, the nearest town, Sotres, is not even Cantabrian, but belongs to the Principality of Asturias and is 11 kilometers away.

Livestock and tourism are the main economic livelihoods of the inhabitants of a municipality that manages a budget of just 180,000 euros and has the lowest per capita income in Cantabria, 7,005 euros per person. But it is also that in Tresviso “you have to plan to get sick” because the doctor comes up once a month, medicines sometimes arrive by helicopter, the first ATM was installed a year ago, the nearest school is almost 30 kilometers by high mountain road -which means about 50 minutes by car-, the fresh products arrive once a week and the residents -with an average age of around 60- have to collect the goods from first necessity throughout the year to face the more than frequent winter isolations due to the copious snowfalls they suffer.

In this context, the figure of a political candidate who aspires to govern the municipality overcomes the ideology of the formation he represents. And it is that, although it sounds like a cliché and is a phrase widely used by the parties, each vote counts. However, the electoral strategy of each candidate for Mayor of Tresviso -Javier Campo (PSOE), Santa López (PRC) and Alan Ruiz (PP)- is different: from knocking on the door of each house in town to taking advantage of the roads to the orchard to meet the needs of the neighbors.

In short, it is a campaign “at street level” where public spaces are not papered with the faces of the candidates, nor do they insist on getting their slogan to every corner of the town. Nor is a customary electoral program drawn up, nor are rallies held to present political proposals or receive visits from regional candidates, which are reserved for major squares.

Requests arrive daily, wherever they arise – in a chat with other neighbors, on the way to attend to the cattle… – and in a personal way. “Everyone knows us and knows what our ways of thinking are, so you don’t run a political campaign trying to convince with new ideas,” explains Santa López, who ran as a regionalist candidate in the previous elections and repeats this electoral campaign again. .

rule in minority

Tresviso’s political situation is no less peculiar than the rest of its characteristics. Since last October, Javier Campo (PSOE) has governed in a minority after the resignation of former socialist mayor Emma Argüelles, which directly led to the absolute majority of the regionalists in the Corporation because there was no substitute for the mayor’s comrade, who has been in charge of the Consistory for 24 years. The results in the last municipal elections? 25 votes for the PSOE, 22 for the PRC and 8 for the PP.

However, according to article 184 of the Organic Law of the General Electoral Regime (LOREG) it is established that in municipalities with a population of less than 100 inhabitants and that are not subject to the Open Council regime, each political party can present a list with a maximum of three names. On the other hand, the Socialist Party only carried two in the candidacy presented in the 2019 elections, so that, when Argüelles (PSOE) ceased, Ignacio Torre (PRC), who was the next most voted candidate in the polls, had to assume the office, even if it was from another party. In other words, he turned the situation around, although without practical consequences for the governance of the municipality.

On this occasion, the parties that aspire to the Mayor of Tresviso in the upcoming elections on May 28 (PSOE, PRC and PP) only present two candidates and none of them includes substitutes, because “it is very difficult to make an electoral list in a such a small place”, assures Javier Campo. So much so that, this time, his candidacy will be made up of himself and his son, since “nobody wants to get into political issues, sometimes because it takes time and does not involve money, other times because they have to signify themselves, and even because on occasions it brings you enmities,” he explains.

a different campaign

The profile and way of life of the three headliners that appear in Tresviso, as well as their way of understanding the governance of the municipality, could not be more different. However, and despite the fact that sometimes “confrontations arise”, the rivalry between the candidates in this case is merely circumstantial. “In the end we are all relatives,” adds the mayor.

The philosophy of ‘today for you, tomorrow for me’ reaches all areas in places with such a small population. “Javier, his son César and I take turns bringing the purchases to the neighbors, the basic products that trucks cannot carry,” says Santa, the PRC candidate. The same happens with the medicines that the nurse leaves in Panes – 50 kilometers away and more than an hour away by car – until the first neighbor who goes down on an errand picks them up to take them to whomever it may concern.

This concept of coexistence in which neighborhood collaboration prevails also extends to politics. “You cannot stop talking to a neighbor because he has a different ideology, since at a given moment you may need him to save your life, or you him,” explains Santa, who blames this situation for the reason why he did not take the reins of the City Council when he had the opportunity, a few months ago. “We could have governed over Javier, but he did not seem fair or ethical to me. I didn’t need to humiliate him and leave him out the back door after so many years as mayor, ”he argues.

three ways of life

Javier Campo is the last cheese artisan in the municipality and has held the position of mayor since 1999, when he won the first elections in which he ran as head of the list. Since then, his work as councilor has made him see that “a small municipality will have fewer problems” but, at the same time, “it forces you to do a little bit of everything.”

For her part, Santa López was born in Tresviso, left when she was three and returned when she was over 30. Even so, “for the neighbors I’m still a stranger,” she says with a laugh. For more than a decade she has been teleworking in the Lebaniego municipality, where she runs tourist apartments while her children grow up in Santander and go up to see her on weekends due to the difficult access to education that exists in such a remote municipality.

Very different is the situation of Alan, the only applicant who does not live in the town and who has now chosen to go “from house to house” to echo the needs of the neighbors. In fact, the PP candidate lives in Santander -130 kilometers and two hours by car-, where he works in the maintenance department of a company, and visits Tresviso on some weekends. A circumstance that could take its toll on him at the polls, since “there are older people who do not conceive of you showing up without living there”, although he believes that “with new technologies you can be attentive to what is happening” and, furthermore, in his opinion , “things are fought in the ministries, which are in Santander.”