HE was born in Belgium 57 years ago, but for nearly half that time Mario Jean Baptist Blancke has been a true and active Malaga resident at heart.
After giving up his job at Siemens after holidaying in Torrox 25 years ago, he decided to stay in the province, residing in Rincon de la Victoria.
It was in Alcaucin, however, where the expat first became involved with local politics. After buying a property in the town in 2006, which he feared was illegal, he joined property action group ‘Save our Homes in Axarquia’, more commonly known as SOHA, which stands up for the rights of owners and illegal properties. It was through his work at SOHA that he became an active member of the Ciudadanos party.
By recently writing his name in the history books as the first ever foreign mayor of a municipality in Malaga, there’s no surprise that Blancke feels proud at achieving such a feat.
He expressed his relief at being ‘given a chance’ by the people of Alcaucin and for not being overlooked despite his foreign origin.
And with his own son holding Spanish nationality, Blancke admits that although he has ‘felt Spanish for a long time now’ he hasn’t been persuaded to follow suit.
“I’m not ruling it out in the future, but when I saw the amount of paperwork my son had to deal with I put the idea to one side for a while,” he joked, despite acknowledging that this would be a way of ‘integrating completely’.
Blancke will couple his new mayoral duties with his existing role at SOHA, adamant that he will continue to serve both Spanish and foreign residents in the protection of their homes.