Sunday, May 08, 2011
The Foreign Vote
It has taken a while to get as far as the title in last Sunday's Voz de Almería, which hardly needs translation. The story says that there are 7,500 Britons able to vote across Almería and elsewhere lists some of the candidates, giving honorary British status to Astrid Schröder and others. The picture is a presentation of Ciudadanos Europeos, which is fielding candidates in Arboleas and Mojácar.
The very Spanish Constitution itself had to be changed to allow Europeans to vote in local elections in Spain - to vote and to be voted for, or, as the Constitution puts it 'active and passive suffrage'.
Since 1999, Mojácar has been one of the leading towns for 'European' participation, with several candidates including myself floating around on various lists, and even - to date - two councillors: Matthew Shatford and Albert Schröter (no relation to Astrid). Neither managed a full term in government. In these elections of 2011, the town has two party leaders and a generous number of other candidates who were born in Northern Europe, in fact, with the exception of the PSOE, all the other parties have a foreign presence of greater or lesser extent. Even the PP has managed to cram a single Briton into their list safely near the tail at Nº 9 where they won't be any threat, but might make a difference.
Oddly, only two towns in Almería have taken the plunge: Mojácar with its aspirations to improve culturally and Arboleas, beset with terrible problems of what the Junta de Andalucía refers to with some satisfaction as 'viviendas ilegales' - illegal homes. Both towns have a lively interest in local politics and, in both these towns, the foreign vote will make a difference.
Not so elsewhere across the province, for with a few exceptions - Jim Simpson in Zurgena, Joanne Tissington in Albox and Lois Benson in Bédar - the majority of towns with a foreign element have managed to safely ignore the problem for another four years. Perhaps it's our fault.