This article was first published in the Euro Weekly News 06.09.18
The right to vote for the British foreigner living in Spain is very much the subject of attention with upcoming regional elections next May with the programmed departure of the U.K from the European Union at precisely 11pm GMT on Friday 29 March, 2019.
The European Governments did not address this aspect of “Brexit” as a vital issue during the first phase of negotiations however earlier this year a lot of people in Spain became very aware of the upcoming municipal elections and whether the British would retain this right. To add to the intrigue we also have several British Mayors and Councillors in local Spanish Towns who are undoubtedly amongst those most concerned.
Although nothing is set in stone there is apparently every intention for a bi-lateral agreement to be signed by the time it comes to the local elections. However, even if that were the case, we will only be able to vote if we have signed up to do so by the end of this year.
We also need to be registered on the local Town Padron. Many European foreigners living here have not yet done this. Some say it’s because they can’t be bothered or they don’t think it affects them; others have been told that this will affect their tax declarations negatively and so on.
These are misconceptions. Signing on the Town register (padron) is obligatory if you are staying here for over 3 months a year (you don’t need to be a resident). This is an internal and local document that quantifies the population for our local Town Hall to inform central government of the total number of inhabitants. In turn they receive funds per capita to cover the costs of sufficient cleaning, policing, education and health facilities etc., to cope with the demand.
If therefore the majority of foreigners are not registered on the padron not only will the Town Hall not have sufficient funds to cover our needs they won’t even know where to put the rubbish bins to collect the garbage or which streets to police – that’s if there’s enough police to even protect us as the number of police in each city is pro rata the official population registered on the padron!!!
As far as our fiscal status goes, nothing changes. Whatever we’re doing or declaring in Spain now will stay the same. If we are a “resident” we will still be a resident; if we are a non-resident we will remain a non-resident.
Back to the vote: At the time of signing on the town census / padron (for everyone’s benefit) you need to make sure that you either tick the box to confirm you want to vote or ask for the form to fill out to vote. You may not be told this or given this option, so just ask specifically where to tick or what to fill out.
At the end of the day we can either all complain about how things are or do something about making them better; perhaps it’s just a question of whether we think we deserve the best and if our opinion is worth giving.