They are voting today up in the north of Spain: in Galicia in the north west and in the País Vasco, the Basque Country, just south and to the west of the Pyrenees. Both places are important bits of Spain - two of the seventeen autonomous regions that make up this country, or, if you prefer, then they are future independent states lying adjacent to the rest of España. One day perhaps with foreign ministries and their own languages. One can hardly wait. Actually, the area best known for its independence and funny language is Catalonia, which already has a few embassies and consulates scatttered around. I think there's one in Andorra.
The two areas are voting today for their autonomies, their regional governments. For these, anyone can vote, down to a third (or apparently even fourth) generation of emmigrant. This includes a fantastic number of Galicians living in South America. In Argentina (where a Spaniard is apparently called 'un gallego') there are 121,219 people with the right to vote in Galicia! In fact, almost 13% of the Galician vote comes from those who not only don't live there, but in many cases those who have never been there, and sus padres tampoco!
I can imagine being allowed to vote in England, where my grandfather came from. So did my father, in point of fact and, come to think of it, so did I. I left when I was thirteen. However, if I don't live there, own stuff there, have any relationship with the UK, besides being blessed with a passport, then why should I either want to or even have the right to vote for Mr Brown or Mr Whasseecalled?
But, it is clear that if I lived in Galicia as a European, then naturally I should have that right, which of course I don't (wouldn't). It goes down to the whole idea of democracy. You should be able to share in the decisions of your community. Not one your grandfather left seventy years ago.
Of course, the Europeans in Galicia and the Basque Country would feel a bit foolish showing up to vote. There are all the local people queuing up with their ID cards ready to cast their ballot, and (thanks to Minister Rubalcaba's latest fiddling with the foreigners) We'd see a few startled Brits standing around holding their passports and the snappy looking unfoldable green A4 which bears the fateful admonition 'Aviso: Documento no válido para acreditar la identidad ni la nacionalidad del portador' (trans: 'This document is stupid and useless'). Pretty soon, if these politics continue, we'll all be wearing a pink triangle with a G (for 'guiri', means white foreigner) sewn to our jackets.
So, the elections will be announced later tonight, unless the huge number of postal votes need to be counted; but they won't reflect the truth of the situation in those two regions.
Furthermore, and much more important, is the added problem in the Basque Country about the number of 'illegal parties'. These are the parties promoted by the ETA terrorists who want independence. Not like the PNV, which apparently wants legal independence, but the harder kind where everyone can vote, but only for secession. So, any party which doesn't condemn terrorism has been illegalised. Taking, apparently, about ten per cent off the top of the vote.
Maybe Spain needs to re-evaluate all this. Let them vote and allow certain areas to leave the Mother Country. Or better still, if we foreigners could only vote in the autonomous (and national) elections, bearing in mind how much we all like Spain, and how poorly equipped we are to learn another (regional) language, then we'd surely vote to help you señores stay integrated and united.