Saturday, May 16, 2009

European Elections - Ex-pat Candidates

The candidate in the upcoming European elections for the CDL, the Centro Democratico Liberal party, is Sean O'Curneen Cañas, half Irish and half Spanish. Fourth on the list, i.e. in a high enough position to make a difference, is Jacqueline Cotterill, a British long time resident of Spain and currently deputy-mayor of Parcent (Alicante). Jacqueline also works closely with the AUN, the anti property abuse association which helped instigate the ‘Auken Report’ in Brussels which heavily criticised Spain for its urban corruption, ‘illegal homes’ and ‘land grab’ issues.
The CDL is the Spanish arm of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), which is the Union’s third largest political force, with 100 MEPs, 9 of the 27 EU Commissioners, 5 Prime Ministers, more than 800 elected National MP’s and thousands of Regional and Local councillors. You can see Sean’s English-language webpage at
The CDL is a liberal centre party, and is where Europe needs to be to best represent all of us. It’s neither to the right like the PP (which supports 'land grab' and is immersed in a major corruption scandal at the present time), nor ‘left’ like the PSOE (which likes to knock down British owned houses and has taken away our 'residents cards'). It's a party with a couple of 'Northern Europeans' in it who would understand our concerns living here in Spain and our second-class status generally. Perhaps even do something about it.
There are of course several other alternatives to the main groups, from the Marxist Leninists, the Huntin’ Fishin’ and Shootin’ Party and the Young Fascists to the Legalise Marijuana Party and even the fascinating ‘Citizens for Blank Votes’ (who leave their envelope empty) and the ‘Overwhelmed and Annoyed Citizens Party’ ('Ciudadanos Agobiados y Cabreados’) who are principally annoyed at the justice system in Spain.
Not to mention overwhelmed.
The BBC were in Mojácar recently to record for Radio 4 some impressions regarding the European elections. I was one of those interviewed by them. They appeared to want me to say that the European Parliament was a waste of time, but I rather think the opposite. We don’t have any warm (and fuzzy) alternative any longer. The British embassy won’t represent anything beyond British exports and sporting heroes. The consulate is good for a new passport, but little else. The Spanish authorities, in their various forms, certainly don’t put us in front of any queue (note my masterly British understatement) so it’s only a strong European authority that is capable, perhaps, of protecting us. The recent Auken Report, which culminated in a vote against so-called ‘illegal homes’, the ‘land grab’ and other urban ills in Spain, sent a strong message to the Valencian and Andalucian town halls, regional governments and their many corner-cutting promoters. We need more messages in a similar vein. To do this, we must support Europe and her democratic system.

How to Vote

To vote in the European elections of June 7th, non-Spanish-born readers would need to be one of the 276,000 Europeans resident in this country who have intimated their interest in voting by signing a form when they were put on the padrón, or by having subsequently asked for one. Voting by post is difficult (you have to be somewhere in Spain), so those of us who vote will have been notified – at least in theory – as to where to go.
When you vote in Spain, you do so by choosing a party list (a ‘papeleta’) from behind the curtain and, without marking it in any way, putting it in the voter’s envelope and taking it to the desk to put in the ballot box. You will need proper identification – your ‘Residents Card’ or the famous green A4 ‘Residence Certificate’ issued by the immigration police together with your passport.
Spain, and indeed Europe, uses ‘proportional representation’ in politics so smaller parties do have a chance to get into the parliament and this is useful as minority concerns can then be aired in a public way.

An ex-pat candidate… imagine such a thing. A candidate, or better still, an MEP, who actually represents and understands the large number of Northern Europeans who reside in Spain. Such a person could be our champion. Taking our problems to the floor of the European parliament.
This reporter, like several major grass-roots associations (including the AUN and the Andalucian pressure group A3V), supports the CDL and notes that neither the Conservatives Abroad nor their rivals the International Labour Party, concerned no doubt by issues of corruption and the endemic lack of support over European residents’ rights in Spain, openly recommend their associate parties in Spain in the European Elections.

*Six min radio interview with Sean O'Curneen (free to use) here.

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