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Minute by Minute

If you live in the UK I hope you had a good election night. Staying up and shouting at the television every five years or so was something I used to enjoy. I was there, in spirit at least, as my proxy went along to the Commemoration Hall to make sure that I exercised my franchise.

The Spanish media covers foreign elections quite extensively. The old Colonial links with South and Central America mean that the polls in Colombia or Argentina get a lot of media attention and, being good Europeans, elections in Germany, France, Poland etc. are also big stories.

I've never seen anything as extensive though as the coverage of the UK elections. For weeks there has been in depth reporting of what Brown, Cameron and Clegg have been up to. Nick's wife being Spanish added to the fun of it all.

I generally read a newspaper called El Pais, a bit left of centre and with well written and non sensationalist articles. A bit Guardian like. Two or three pages of articles has not been unusual over the past couple of weeks. The televised debates were retransmitted on Spanish TV and more than once the UK elections have been the lead story on the TV and radio news.

Last night, at around 3am here, 2am in the UK, I was watching reports direct from London with a view of the Houses of Parliament behind the programmes anchorman There were interviews with anyone who could speak Spanish (and some who couldn't) about the background and minutiae of what had happened during the day. The only bit that was missing was the - "Another result coming in - Cambridge, Lib Dem hold with a 7% swing to the Tories" - "Well Brian, does that tell us anything?"

They had to explain the process; first past the post is a system that the Spanish media find intriguing - how can parties with similar percentages of the vote end up with such a different number of seats? At one point I watched as a Spanish journalist, holding up polling cards, explained that without them people were not allowed to vote. She was wrong, at least she would have been wrong when I lived in the UK but who knows - things may have changed in the 5½ years I've been away.

Certainly chaos at polling stations is something I don't remember.


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