101-year-old fights for election

Josefina Villaverde, 101 years-old candidate of the Socialist Party (PSOE) for the upcoming municipal elections, poses in the village of Cuntis, some 50 kms from Santiago de Compostela, in May 2011. Spain's ruling Socialist Party, battered by the economic crisis, is facing defeats in some of its traditional regional strongholds in elections to be held, an opinion poll said. (AFP)

At 101 years old, Josefina Villaverde is launching her political career.

She is fighting as the Socialist Party candidate in Cuntis, a Galician village in northwest Spain, for municipal elections on May 22.

Born November 19, 1909, Villaverde is alert and keen, canvassing the streets of her home town with fellow candidates and handing out the campaign promise "Winning for Cuntis".

Wearing a smile and short white hair, she remembers casting a ballot at the age of 24 in the local school on November 19, 1933, the first election open to women after parliament gave its approval two years earlier.

Her husband had handed her the ballot at the school entrance as a form of birthday gift.

"He gave it to me, I entered and I put it in the urn. That was the first time women voted in Spain. And I was there," she told the daily El Mundo.

Among today's politicians, she backs Defence Minister Carme Chacon because she is a woman.

"Women for power," she said.

Chacon could be a candidate to take over the Socialist Party leadership from Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who has decided not to stand in the next general elections in 2012.

Villaverde admits a preference for Zapatero, though. "He is handsome and he is a good man. The worst is that he is retiring."

Villaverde, a widow since 1973, with three great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild, said she has been a "socialist since birth" and loves to talk politics".

"You should vote not for your friends but for your principles," she told El Mundo.

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