Saturday, November 11, 2006
Local Elections in May 2007
There remains some confusion about foreign nationals being able to vote in local elections in Spain next year (May 27th, 2007).
All those members of EU countries who are over eighteen and are registered on their town hall registry, the padrón, may vote (and, indeed, run for office) as long as they have signed the voting-form sent out by the INE (the National Institute for Statistics that is also the Election Office).
Norwegians may vote, but not stand for office (a bi-lateral agreement with this non-EU country stands).
Romanians and Bulgarians may vote and also run for office (these countries join the EU on January 1st 2007).
If you signed the form in 2003, then you will remain on the electoral list.
Some EU citizens have already filled out their voting-form expressing their wish NOT to vote. This can be remedied for those who have had second thoughts, by returning to the town hall and re-applying for their right to vote from the person who runs the registry (in Mojácar, it’s Carmen).
Copies of these forms (for those on the padrón, who wish, or now wish, to vote and haven’t signed a form) are available at the office of The New Entertainer, in the COPE Radio tower at the Parque Comercial on Mojácar beach. These are a formal declaration of one’s right to vote in local and European elections.
Copies also available from the British Embassy at http://www.ukinspain.com/
To live in a community must suppose one’s support and interest in that community’s future. That your town or neighbourhood is safe, clean, quiet, secure and attractive (is it?). That there are enough doctors, teachers, police, postmen, garbagemen, gardeners and so on (are there?). That your community has enough parking spaces, green spaces, cultural offers, electricity, sewage, water, sports stadia and so on (does it?). That your nationality is represented in the town hall: where people will speak your language and understand your concerns (no comprendo?). That the amount of speculative building is strictly controlled so that your community grows naturally and your property increases in value (does it?).
Those who can vote but won’t make the effort are, in effect, against integration and improving their surroundings.
Who to vote for.
There will be a variety of parties looking for your support. Most (if not all) will have similar programs (everything to be better, cleaner, taller…). Both local-issue parties as well as national parties (Conservative PP, socialist PSOE, nationalist PA, communist IU etc) will be seeking power. In most municipalities, two, three or four parties would seek office, although famously, in Mojácar there were nine parties in 2003.
A party with some British candidates on its list (in high position if they are to get into the town hall) would be a useful start...
A party will produce a list of names (the number of council seats plus a couple of spare names – in Mojácar, a total of thirteen plus two). These fifteen names will be a list for Party X. Party Y and Party Z will also produce their own lists. The number of votes counted at the election will produce a harvest of names from each list. These names become the new councillors. The parties will then decide on the new mayor and balance of power according to their strength in numbers. In the event of a majority (seven or more out of thirteen), the party concerned takes office. The first name on their list being the mayor, the following names being the new councillors. Roughly, if there were thirteen hundred votes counted for thirteen seats, then every one hundred votes would produce a councillor. The voter will bring his passport or another I.D. (with photograph) and he then votes by choosing a candidature from the different parties running for office (a white paper with the party name and its list of candidates) and then placing that in an envelope and then into the ballot box.
European citizens have to be on the padrón and to have claimed their right to vote at least four months before Voting Day (May 27th 2007) so should have completed their papers by mid January. After this cut-off date, the Election Board (INE) will post a list of all those who have the right to vote. This may be amended but not added to.
Feel free to use this article..
Monday, November 06, 2006
The Hot Bath
I was tired, stressed and gloomy. It was the perfect moment to go home and have a long hot bath. No power or water cuts in Paradise today, for a change, so I was soon bubbling gently in a steamy soupy tub while practicing my scales.
The Romans had an impressive water system, based on the laws of gravity. Their aqueducts were designed to allow water to fall exactly seventeen cms per kilometre, a speed that allows for the smallest speed of flow. These aqueducts fed public fountains, some wealthier private homes, and above all, the public baths, which Romans felt was the nadir of their civilization. In their baths, they were cleansed physically and mentally. To a Roman citizen, the baths were civilization.
Rome, by the first century AD, had 420 kilometres of aqueducts feeding it from different sources. A hydrographer recently noted that New York didn’t overtake Ancient Rome in volume of water consumed until 1985, and the Romans, of course, had neither electricity or pumps, or rubber washers or plastic piping to help them.
Some of those remarkable aqueducts, built two thousand years ago and used to refresh all of their cities throughout the Empire, are still extant and there are even a few left in Spain, including some that still work! Water was rarely a problem which is how they could build such large cities.
I don’t care for showers. They are violent, fast, and efficient rather like a flight on Air Vobiscum. To continue the simile, a bath is slow and pleasant, roomy and cultural (that is, if you read a book in the tub or listen to the radio or you like to sing). A bath has the same finality but takes its time, a bit like the train to Madrid.
Bathing has always been a civilized event, as can be shown by the Arabs with their hammam, and the Scandinavians, the Russians and the Japanese with their different traditions. Saunas, Turkish baths, Jacuzzis and the rest of them are for relaxing in and, yes, wasting a bit of water.
The average amount of water used by a Spaniard is 175 litres per day. This is a couple of goes on the lavatory, a shower, washing a few dishes and some teeth, a shave, a coffee and a quick squirt with the watering can along the window-box. Now, along comes the ministry with a chilling new order. Spaniards are to use 60 litres per day and to pay a surcharge on anything over.
As a Roman once said while looking out of a window in his bath-house – ‘Bugger me! The Barbarians are at the gates’.