The merger of Don Benito and Villanueva de la Serena, now in court

Signs of Don Benito and Villanueva de la Serena / TODAY

A judge admits for processing the appeal presented by the association 'Always Don Benito' against the union process of the towns of Extremadura

On February 20, Don Benito and Villanueva de la Serena focused the attention of the entire country. The inhabitants of the two Extremaduran municipalities decided in a referendum if they were united in a single locality. After a narrow yes, not without controversy, the merger went ahead and the next step was to decide on the new name. Vegas Altas was the option chosen after an intense debate. Along the way, faced with the rejection of the neighbors, the proposals of a commission of 14 experts remained: Concordia del Guadiana or Mestas del Guadiana.

The 'yes I do' does not seem to have a honeymoon as happy as it seemed at the moment, neither in the family name nor in its consummation. The Contentious-Administrative Court number 2 of Mérida has admitted for processing an appeal from the association 'Siempre Don Benito' where they denounce the alleged irregularities of the merger process. This same neighborhood group has also shown itself against the
denomination of Vegas Altas because, among other reasons, a district of Extremadura is already called that.

In the appeal filed by the association, it is requested that the percentage of the favorable votes of 65.97% be declared. This is a key point since with that figure two thirds of support would not have been achieved. This was a prerequisite for approval. According to the official scrutiny, in the vote that took place in Don Benito there were 15,199 votes. Of these, there were 10,028 in favor (66.27%), 5,026 against (33.21%), 78 blank votes (0.52%) and 67 invalid votes (0.44%).

The “great city” born from a secret pact

'Always Don Benito' also demands that the call itself be challenged. At the moment, the judge has requested the informative files of the popular consultation and, beyond the admission for processing, she has not entered to assess the content of the resource.

The night of the vote

night of February 20 lived very differently in the two municipalities. In Villanueva de la Serena the 'yes' came out comfortably, 90.49% and in Don Benito it did so almost miraculously and at the last minute, 66.27%, just two tenths more than required. Hours before the announcement of the official result, the indices showed 63%. At that percentage, the tracking-enabled web page began to return confusing data and crashed.

The result was so tight that the Dombenitense City Council found it necessary to defend the transparency of the count and promise an audit of the computer services of the Badajoz Provincial Council.

Celebration on February 20 after announcing the 'yes' /


The 'Always Don Benito' protest focuses on the recount of invalid votes. He defends that if they are taken into account the result is 65.97%. On February 22, the Dombenite City Council already stated that according to the General Electoral Regime Law applied in the recount, the null vote does not count as valid. Therefore, it does not raise the barrier of votes necessary to obtain a seat. In this case, the seat translated into merger or non-merger.

Neither Mestas nor Concordia

But the path of the union has already suffered other potholes, such as the place name of the new city. A commission of 14 experts proposed two options Mestas del Guadiana or Concordia del Guadiana. Neither of them convinced public opinion. Faced with this rejection, the mayors of both municipalities, Miguel Ángel Gallardo and José Luis Quintana, recognized the mistake and
they dropped both names.

149 days after the popular vote, a meeting of spokespersons chose Vegas Altas for what would be the third city in Extremadura. There is already a district with that name in the community, but as it does not have a legal entity, it would be a viable option for the two municipalities. In addition, the urban section of the EX-206 that connects both cities is precisely Vegas Altas avenue, also giving its name to many companies in both locations.

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