Monday, September 26, 2022

Local Elections and the British Resident

There has now been a pronunciamento on the subject of the vote for British residents in Spain for the municipal elections.

One of the many joys of the Brexit meant that the British residents in the EU lost a number of privileges, without apparently gaining anything much in return. One loss was The Vote in the European elections (not that any MEP ever spoke for the foreign residents), and another was our switch from ‘ciudadanos comunitarios’ to ‘residentes extranjeros’ with our snappy new TIE card. Those without them only being allowed in the Schengen Area for ninety out of 180 days, regardless of property-ownership. Indeed, we TIE-owners can stay in Spain, but we can’t spend more than 90/180 days elsewhere in the EU either.

We became, with Brexit, something less.

The municipal elections have always been of more interest than any other one – since one vote has little sway in a national or regional poll, but in a municipality with mere thousands (or maybe just hundreds) of voters, your word counts for something.  

Despite the ruling from the European Court of Justice following a case in France, it appears that the Spanish/British bilateral agreement on (at least) local voting rights remains firm, if with a few extra formalities to undergo.

These include having to prove you have been a resident in Spain for more than three years (alas, your TIE card makes no mention of your antiquity) and to claim your right to vote (for next May 28th local elections) sometime over the Christmas season. The Election Board (INE) should be mailing out a card soon to the British residents showing our seniority - a proof we will need to show when we register at the town hall.

As to whether one can still join a local party-list as a Brit – a British resident who is also currently a councillor says that ‘yes, we can. Unlike other non-EU nationals, a Brit can still be placed on a voting-list’.

The Spanish/British bilateral accord on voting rights post Brexit from January 2019 is here.

For other nationalities, resident in Spain, there are three alternatives.

-EU citizens can vote in European and local elections, and stand as candidates.

-Certain other nationalities can vote in local elections. The countries with an agreement with Spain (together with the UK) are Bolivia, Cape Verde, Colombia, Korea, Chile, Ecuador, Iceland, Norway, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru and (for some reason) Trinidad & Tobago.

-Nationals from anywhere else can’t vote (such as… Moroccans, Brazilians, Argentinians, Venezuelans or Canadians…).

In a municipality, it is clear that everyone over 18 should have the vote, as a town hall must represent all of its citizens, not just the ones with the right paperwork. Otherwise, which bit of land will get re-zoned, or who will receive preference in some local project or engagement?

(We are reminded that many Spanish voters, resident elsewhere, opt to maintain their name on the local padrón and vote in consequence).

In our experience, not many British residents voted in earlier elections, and the likelihood is that, with these fresh impediments, even fewer will bother this time.


Thursday, September 22, 2022

Another Day, Another Dollar

They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hotspot
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got till it's gone... (Joni Mitchell)

The projected new by-pass for Mojácar may move the traffic along (a bit), but as more houses and hotels and bars and restaurants and apartment blocks and campsites and urbanisations and shops are built, and more zebra crossings, roundabouts, slipways, parking lots, bus-stops and traffic-lights are installed, and more people move here or visit or pass through or live or holiday or drink and eat and bathe here, and more cars, buses, motor-homes, cement-lorries, beer-trucks, motorbikes and cyclists arrive to clog up the single-lane beach road, I think the traffic will be as slow as ever.

It's going to cost the Mojácar town hall (and those who contribute towards its budget) some three million euros - apparently the banks have been asked to help. The regional government will pay the rest, some two million.

For current residents - especially in the areas where few local people live (owning land being a different concept) - a map of the planned expropriations, route, width and exits would be nice. On cue, the full plans arrived in my mail box today: here. Good news for some, but not so much for others. 

The future increase in Mojácar's population, one way or another, will mean more sewage - will it continue to be spilled into the sea? Will more hills be flattened, golf courses built and Old Mojácar ransacked?

Whatever happened to the concern for that rare plant that only grows in this immediate area - the limonium estevei - also known as La Siempreviva de Mojácar? Twenty years ago, it was enough to stop the bypass altogether. 

Perhaps there aren't any left now.


Friday, September 16, 2022

A Course on Natural Dressage

At Albero Centro Ecuestre we are hosting a two-day course on doma natural - natural dressage - using no external aid: no whip, stick or threat towards the horse.

The horse doesn't wear a halter.

The course will be given (in Spanish) by Carmelo Sáenz de Mendoza who is well-known in the field of training and has his own stables in Sanlúcar de Barameda in Cádiz. 

Albero Centro Ecuestre is at Los Partidores 20, La Cañada de San Urbano, near the University of Almería.

The course will be given on the weekend of October 8 and 9th. 


Albero Centro Ecuestre is a riding school, with around 25 horses and ponies. There are a further twelve horses cared for in livery. The centre, under the stewardship of Loli Berenguel, has been running successfully since it began in 2000. 


En castellano here:


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Where Ya From?

 An odd article from The Conversation looks at the end of the nation state. The thrust is that digital nomads might live in one country, while working for a business based in another. They see themselves, we read, in a sense at citizens of – and loyal towards – their employer rather than anything else. They even have a (so-far pretend) country to be citizens of: Plumia (frankly, I haven’t got a clue what they are talking about – although the people behind the concept are a travel insurance company). We, er, wish them well.

Digital nomad visas are an increasingly common idea, with a list of countries (including Portugal, Germany, Malta, the Czech Republic and Croatia) green-lighting the system. Furthermore, in many cases, you are your own boss – but, one must beware of ‘burnout’ apparently.

To many of us living as expatriates, particularly if we are retired, nationality is little more than the passport they gave us, and the bother of acquiring another one (particularly in Spain) is not worth the hassle (that, and nobody is going to believe it anyway).

Being a member of the EU was (or is) certainly a plus for expatriates who came from one of the 28 that was.

But largely, and the recent sad passing of our Queen aside, many of us don’t become too tearful on our Nation’s Day or keep our country’s flag flying bravely from the mast above the bougainvillea.

The Spanish see themselves more as regionalist than nationalist – and perhaps the EU’s mistake was to be a union of countries rather than a union of regions. It would certainly ease some of our squabbles if we took that further step – perhaps we will one day.

A quote from the Plumia people: “We’re all enrolled into this automatic subscription based on the coincidence of our birthplace or our heritage, and that really doesn’t work in the 21st century”. This is a business-based observation, but, I think, it is appropriate for the expatriate too – there are after all, a lot of us.

Another fake country, Tabarnia, actually has a physical presence. It is the conservative version, more or less, of the urban parts of Catalonia. Tabarnia, was a joke from 2013, almost forgotten since, until Isabel Díaz Ayuso was chosen last week as its new ‘President in Madrid’.  As Miguel Charisteas says on YouTube: ‘the fantasy is strong this season’.

Then there was the recent successful meeting of the flat-earth society in Barcelona.

So while the local neighbours of the un-anchored are not entirely comfortable with their new vecinos with ‘Digital nomads clashes with local culture’; but then, didn’t we always brush the locals the wrong way?

Perhaps we would do better in the Metaverse.

At the 2016 Conservative Party conference in the UK, the new prime minister, Theresa May, famously declared: “If you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere”.

Bring it on.