It is eight in the afternoon and Marta and Marina leave the headquarters of the Official Nursing College of Madrid after voting in the elections for president. They smile incredulously as they discuss it with other people who are patiently waiting for their turn. Marta and Marina have been waiting to vote since two in the afternoon. Like the hundreds of people who stretch around the entire block from the school headquarters to the parallel street while shouting “shame”.
The first real elections in 23 years in the Official College of Nursing of Madrid –there was a call six years ago without warning, so there was no voteaccording to Cadena Ser– have aroused great expectations among the group and due to lack of foresight or statutory limitations, as the Association defends, or for trying to boycott the vote of the staff, as they assure from the alternative candidacy to the official one, the situation It has gotten out of control: there was –there is, the vote is expected to last until late at night– a ballot box for 55,000 members.
Mar Rocha, spokesperson for the Association, explains that the situation has been inevitable because that is how the electoral process is stipulated in the statutes. “We are happy about this participation”, she explains at first, “but the statutes indicate that there is only one polling station”, which is the one who makes the decisions related to the elections, although she admits that the statutes have become obsolete. The same explanation for the voting schedule, from ten in the morning to six in the afternoon, which many nurses describe as “ridiculous” with the shifts they have to do. “Decision of the table”, explains Rocha.
“We’ve been warning about it for weeks”
From the Nursing Initiative, Mayte López Pascual assures that this was coming and that they had notified it until yesterday, with letters to the Ombudsman included. “There is no right, we have been warning about it for weeks and it seems that here we put up with everything, but they are limiting the right to vote in person”, and he says that the waits have occurred since the first moment of the morning because the voting process is very slow . “Now they have speeded up a bit, but they have spent the whole day taking a minute per person to vote between entering, looking at the census, which is a huge book, and leaving,” she says. Because of these delays, from the alternative candidacy they denounce that many people have had to leave without being able to vote.
Belén Doncel has achieved it by a miracle. She has come to vote around 4:30 p.m. after finishing her shift and picking up her daughter from her school. After eight o’clock the two are still waiting. The afternoon is beginning to be long for her little girl. “I have shift 1,375 and 240 is voting,” she recounts while she explains that at six in the afternoon, the theoretical closing time of the table, shifts have been distributed among those present to ensure that they could vote. But she wanted to move. “I have the dog waiting since six in the morning without leaving the house,” she says indignantly. Her classmates take charge of her situation and let her sneak in. “They don’t want us to vote, this is nullifying a right,” she denounces.
The final count will say if the current president, José María Andrada, repeats, or if the alternative candidacy, the Nurse Initiative, prevails, but the dozen people asked in the queue want change. “I’m staying here until I vote,” said Veronica, the last person in a queue for miles and aware that she was easily going to give him the early morning. She has arrived within the deadline by the hair. “I worked today from 7:30 to 16:30, and I live in the south. I had to ask my father to bring me”, she recounts. Why so much interest in voting? “We don’t feel represented. [por la actual dirección]. I had a legal problem that required some urgency and the College is supposed to cover it, but they did not offer me a solution and I had to find a life on my own”, he relates. In her case, moreover, she is one of the people that the Community of Madrid hired as a COVID reinforcement and then fired. She did not feel supported by the institution. The story repeats itself, each one with its nuance, all over Menéndez Pelayo street in Madrid.
The people present in the queue when night falls are indignant at times. Doncel remembers that being registered in Madrid is mandatory to practice and that it costs 53 euros per quarter to register. “We pay to work and on top of this,” they say. Mayte López, from the Nursing Initiative, recalls that the College manages a budget of 10 million euros per year. “We are at risk if this money continues to be handled with opacity,” she says, and assures that they plan to report the entire situation of the queues to the Prosecutor’s Office.
Rocha, from the College, assures that part of the delay is due to “certain incidents” caused by a group of people abroad, which have interrupted the day and produced more queues. López denies it: “Some people with some banners have shouted a little, but that’s it,” he maintains. The two municipal police officers who observe patients at the door corroborate that, at least on their shift, there have been no incidents.