Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Worm Has Turned: British Ex-pats May Have a New Champion

Spain is stuck in a year of elections. We had the Andalucian ones back in late March – still unresolved and now with the threat of fresh Andalucía elections for September. We face local elections across the country on May 24th. These are joined on the same day by regional elections in most parts of the country (excepting Andalucía, Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque Country). In September, the Catalonians will be holding their own regional elections, with a view towards independence in the near future. Finally, probably in November, we shall be called to the urns once again for the General Elections.

The two major parties, the Partido Popular and the PSOE (the traditional right and left) are joined by not only the usual regional independent parties, some of which are as old-fashioned as the PP and the PSOE themselves, but also by upstarts Ciudadanos (right wing) and Podemos (left wing anti-austerity).

One of the more interesting struggles, however, will be resolved next Sunday, when the small town of Mojácar in Almería goes to the polls, because one of the leading parties there is headed by an Englishwoman called Jessica Simpson. 38 year old Jessica is the candidate for 'Somos Mojácar' (We are Mojácar) which is a group made up of various different local parties and associations. Jessica, like only a few of the majority British resident in the resort, is bilingual, having lived locally for almost all of her life. She is married to a Spaniard and has two children going through the local school system.

Jessica is interesting to the local panorama – a foreigner at last within the Town Hall to represent integration and foreign participation in that most hallowed of Spanish institutions, the plenary session of the Town Hall (she already has four years experience as a local councillor), but she could be more interesting still as a champion for the voiceless Britons living in Spain.

There are something between 290,000 and 750,000 Britons living in Spain (depending on who one believes) and they have little or no voice in what is going on. Spain to tax them unfairly or to demolish their homes? No one to stick up for them. The UK to leave the EU, causing untold and ill-considered hardship? No one to defend their interests. Europe has a parliament made up of MEPs, but none of them represent either their citizens abroad or the larger group of émigré Europeans – thirty million who live in other European countries, of which two million are Britons. There is, in short, a large group of displaced and voiceless Europeans living within the very cradle of democracy itself.

In Europe, we need more Jessica Simpsons, but first, she must win Mojácar.

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