ON the 27th May 2007 municipal elections will be contested throughout Spain.
This is an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in the running of their municipality to express an opinion.
Article 13.2 of the Spanish Constitution grants foreign residents voting rights in municipal elections as long as a reciprocity treaty exists with the country of origin of the foreign resident. This right already exists for all EU citizens resident in countries of the European Union; therefore all its citizens have the right to vote and stand for election. This only applies to municipal elections, not regional or national as set by EU regulations and has been in place since 1989.
Non-EU citizens can only vote if their country has a reciprocity treaty as explained above. At the moment the only non-EU countries that have signed treaties with Spain are Norway, Argentina and Chile.
In order to be able to vote, Norwegian citizens will need to be in possession of their residency card, they must have been living in Spain legally and without interruptions for more than three years and they must be inscribed in the Padrón Municipal. To be inscribed in the census Norwegian citizens must present an application to their local Town Hall.
On the 1st of January 2007 Bulgaria and Romania will become part of the European Union and henceforth citizens of these countries residing in Spain will be able to vote in the 2007 elections.
To be able to vote it is essential to be included on the polling list. For this a person must first be inscribed in the Padrón Municipal and to have declared his or her intention to vote. In any case it is obligatory for all persons living in Spain to be registered in their local Padrón Municipal whether they are residents or not.
From the 15th of May 2006 all members of the European Union can find the form to declare his or her intention to vote in the municipal elections in Spain at their local Town Hall. They can sign this document at the same time as inscribing themselves in the Padrón Municipal. The declaration to vote in Spain is permanent as long as that person continues to reside in Spain.
Shortly before the time to vote comes all those persons that fit the above criteria will receive through the post a Tarjeta Censal (Census Card) which will specify in which school and at what table they can exercise their right to vote. It is also possible to vote by post.
The different Spanish political parties have already taken positions about allowing immigrants that do not fall in any of the categories above to be able to vote in the next elections. They make up the majority of the immigrant population and all political parties are aware of the potential votes they represent. In February 2006 the Congreso de los Diputados (Spain’s first house – equivalent to the UK House of Commons) voted unanimously in favour of a proposition to promote the immigrants’ right to vote in the coming municipal elections.
For more information you can phone the Oficina del Censo Electoral (Electoral Census Office) on 901 101 900 or visit it online at http://www.ine.es/censoe/menucenso.htm