There is a problem on the horizon that until very recently has been ignored, forgotten or just overlooked. It is also an issue that some expats living here permanently don’t understand or maybe even care about but it is vital to our continued lifestyle in Spain and our integration into the Spanish life.
Despite the fact that the UK government has promised to restore our voting rights as expats for life it probably won’t happen until 2024. So for many of us we won’t be able to vote in the next election in the UK or maybe even the one after that and that is assuming it goes through Parliament in the first place.
Now what has been ignored or missed is that as of 29 March 2019 we probably also won’t be able to vote in the Spanish local elections in May 2019.
Worse still, those British expat residents who have so ably represented us on Spanish local councils may well find themselves prohibited from standing in the municipal elections after our departure from the EU on 29 March, despite being wanted on their local council and nominated in December / January.
So, no vote in the UK if out of the country for 15+ years, no vote in the EU elections and now no vote in the municipal elections here in Spain. We will be completely disenfranchised! It begs the question as to quite what we British residents in the EU stand for even though we proudly retain and defend our British passports.
This right to vote here has not been properly considered yet so we need to ensure that the situation is identified and solved well before the end of this year. It looks like Spain and the UK will need to sign a bilateral agreement which will enable us to vote in the Spanish local elections and vice versa post-March 2019. We’re also aware of the limited time we have left to sort this given the local elections in May 2019.
Spain already has a bilateral arrangement with a number of other non-EU countries (Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Columbia, South Korea, Iceland, Ecuador, Norway, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago) for voting in local elections. Both the UK and Spanish government have been made aware of how important and time sensitive this is.
BREXPATS IN SPAIN will be commencing a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of this issue. We will be working with Mayors, councils, local, national and international press and media, the English, Spanish and the EU. We are ably supported by the Ciudadanos, the Spanish political party, and have individual support from countless Spanish mayors but we need to also petition the UK government MP’s and parties.
This is a major task and we will need your support! You will be able to help us over the coming months without too much effort. Over the next few weeks please make sure you are registered on our website and keep watching for further details.
IF YOU LIVE IN SPAIN, HELP US TO HELP YOU!
Anne Hernández, President BREXPATS IN SPAIN
Richard T Hill, Vice President BREXPATS IN SPAIN