Thursday, April 07, 2011

Local Elections: May 22nd

I suppose there is a natural reticence in getting involved in local politics – or even going as far as voting. We’ve all either heard, or indeed volunteered, the various excuses of ‘it not being our place’ or ‘we don’t know the candidates’, either of which are really rather an admission of ignorance and a lack of enthusiasm for one’s community. Go and meet your neighbours! Find what you like and identify what you don’t. It’s now your community and it’s worth making the best of it.
To the comical line about how the natives are restless, as the fireworks are exploding, the megaphones are honking and the crowds are cheering, I would answer that we are not in some South Sea island uneasily wearing grass skirts. We are not colonials – this is our town: our future.
There are different issues that incite different people. Those unfortunate enough to live in an ‘illegal house’ (there are literally thousands of families in this position in the Almanzora Valley) would be wise, if they could, to vote for a party which offers solutions, rather than creates and exacerbates the problem. Other people want more sports facilities or perhaps residences for the elderly; they might want more discothèques and less police presence, or maybe the very opposite. It’s all about politics (and in my examples here, age and inclination).
There are the two main parties in Spanish politics, the PSOE – mostly responsible for the ‘illegal houses’ problem; and the PP, which favours and champions ‘land grab’. One is nominally socialist, the other, in theory, conservative. However, in local politics, it’s all about local personalities and local issues. Our mainstream party candidate for example is aware of the local issues and, despite pressure from ‘head office’ in far-off Seville or even farther-off Madrid, will seek to provide local solutions. At least, so one might hope. In reality, small town politics is often about local personalities, families and opportunity. We call it ‘clan politics’. We can ignore all of this and we will in turn be ignored.
Otherwise, it is better to participate, join in and integrate. Sooner or later the parties must open their gates to fresh ideas and finally face the loss of their baleful family influence. The community becomes the stronger and this in turn creates wealth and jobs. Property prices would even rise with the demand from buyers and potential settlers – because who wouldn’t want to live in a harmonious and well-treated town?

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