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article imageOp-Ed: Spain, do they want the ex pat votes?

By Donna Murphy     Mar 27, 2011 in Politics
In the South of Spain, as you travel along the main road, the large billboards are covered with party political posters. With over 350,000 foreigners living in this area, do they want our votes?
Having lived in this area for over a decade, I must shamefully admit that until the last General Election, I had never taken all that much interest in Spanish politics.
I found out that only Spanish Nationals are allowed to vote in General Elections. I thought this to be unfair, after all, I and many other people on my urbanisation have lived here for years. I was informed that if you registered at the Town Hall, all ex pats could vote in local and European elections. I then asked my friend, why, at election times, we never saw any candidates courting votes on our urbanisation. In fact, the group of friends in the crowd with me during this conversation, came from quite a wide area of different urbanisation's all along the coast. None of them could ever remember seeing a candidate from any party. We thought that seeing as there are at least 350,000 foreigners living on our coast(source - local papers), that is a lot of votes. Our Spanish friend informed us that generally, the parties were not interested in our votes because the way the system worked, it suited them fine.
The Madrid Subway is the second largest metro system in Western Europe after London s Underground..
The Madrid Subway is the second largest metro system in Western Europe after London's Underground..
Daniel Erler
With elections coming up again soon in our area, I have seen the billboards going up again. I have noticed a slight difference now. Even in the local English free papers, there is the odd advertisement about the election. I am going up to my town hall this time to register. Once I have done that, I am going to find out how one goes about voting. I am also going to try and impart this information to as many of my friends and neighbours as I can.
My theory is that the reason that the candidates have never bothered with the foreigners votes is two fold. Primarily, ex pats have never realised that they can vote, so have never registered and secondly, if we are not registered, the politicians will not have to take into account different problems that ex pats have or implement any policies that may help. If I can get as many of my ex pat friends to register to vote, surely with this amount of votes to be cultivated, the candidates will finally have to talk to us like any other constituents. They may even devise policies that would make our lives easier to live here.
Madrid  Spain s Capitol City
Madrid, skyline.
I want to find out, who the Parties are, what they stand for, are their policies inclusive to the ex pat community, what the names of our candidates are. Where will they be speaking and to whom? Maybe then, I can tell my friends and neighbours and encourage them to vote. After all, that is the only way we will ever get noticed and policies devised that would be beneficial to us.
It is about time that a large amount of people here realised that the politicians here are our politicians too. If we start letting the parties know that we intend to vote, maybe we will see some recognition. For too long the ex pat community has just gone along with the system, never knowing any rights we may have and certainly never being told any by our politicians.. We are a large community which has been ignored in the main and certainly bypassed when it comes to policy decisions. I think it is time to change things.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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