22 May, 2011 @ 08:05
2 mins read

To vote, or not to vote…

TODAY is the day I am meant to vote. I’ve never voted in my life which will offend and disgust some people. But in my defence, it is mainly circumstance rather than apathy that has prevented me from voting in the past.

By the time I was old enough to vote, I had already been bitten by the extended leave travel bug. I was 18 and living away from home for the first time, and rather than choose the easy option of moving to a city not too far away, while studying to be someone rich and successful, I had moved to New York to work as a PA to someone rich and successful. The Americans are very careful when considering who can visit their country, let alone who can vote in their elections, and so it wasn’t really an issue that concerned me. I was happy enough living in a city protected by a well respected Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was working hard to promote good living and zero tolerance. What more could an English gal in New York City desire?

I eventually moved back to the UK and as a student of law, should have taken more of an interest in the politics that surrounded me. But typically, I chose a course which insisted on periods of study and work abroad, thereby managing to be safely ensconced in a Belgian work placement when it was once again time to tick the box of my choosing.

And then came Spain, and here I admit to a bit of apathy the first time that voting became an option. Seeing as it took me four years to become resident and sign the Padrón at the townhall, that’s hardly surprising.

But this year, I am a fully fledged member of the “able to vote in Spain” fraternity. My paperwork has all been submitted in triplicate to a zillion different civil servants, I have a pretty green certificate acknowledging my right to reside in Spain, and a clever plastic card that entitles me to queue to see a doctor. To cap it all, a small piece of white card appeared in my postbox last week, advising at which table, in which polling station, I could place my all important vote.

My colleagues are desperate for me to place what they consider to be the correct slip of paper into the envelope, and slot it into the box which will apparently be clearly labelled on the table nominated on the aforementioned card. Doesn’t sound too complicated does it?

Those in the know where I work, strongly believe their recommended candidate will make life so much better for both the Spanish and expatriate residents who make up our local community. My mother would prefer me to choose a different piece of paper for the compelling reason that she knows that candidate’s mother, who would be so proud for her son to be mayor.

No-one seems that inspired, or bothered, by the parties’ policies on a national level. But may be that’s an expat Costa problem as further afield the “Spanish Revolution” is trending on Twitter, being bandied around Facebook and, I strongly suspect, is the talk of the Spaniards propping up the bars and cafes tonight. Citizens of Valencia and Madrid, among others, are protesting against the Spanish corruption epidemic which they feel has led to the disastrous levels of unemployment, house repossessions and poverty being suffered by many throughout the country.

Are any of the would be Mayors of Estepona filling me with confidence that they have the ability and wherewithal to really make a difference? I confess to having enjoyed a free paella provided by one candidate to local residents and been given a straw hat by another. But is any of this enough to make me vote?

Well, I do have a DVD to take back to the rental shop, and that’s right next to the polling station. It opens in eight hours so I guess I have plenty of time to decide.

Charlotte Hanson

Copywriter, content writer, proofreader, feature writer and blogger enjoying life near the beach in Estepona, Costa del Sol, Spain with my other half and our beloved labrador, Bailey. We live a fairly uncomplicated life revolving around work and walking, oh and me trying to be a domesticated goddess.


  1. What can we do if we are told that the count at our village elections yesterday have been held in secret and our reps. were not allowed in. We all think that there is dodgy dealings going on. We have had much trouble in the past with dodgy deals on land and the ripping off the English and German residence.
    Any chance of an answer ?

  2. Keith, I think you’re right about voting in the UK. if you have no registered address it would be tricky to go on the electoral roll. As far as your Spanish problem is concerned, I would expect there to be some process for making a complaint but I’m afraid I don’t know what it is. Perhaps another reader can help?

  3. ok, here goes (I think I am right but am willing to be shot down…..)

    A Spaniard has life long voting rights i Spain irrespective of where they reside.

    As for ex pats residing in Spain :

    you can vote in Spanish Municipal & Parliamentary elections, as well as European, if you are an EU citizen and a resident here (and have registered properly to vote)

    you can trade your Parliamentary & European vote here to vote in UK general elections and also European elections – but you cannot vote in both countries – this is done by proxy or post

    you cannot vote in local elections in the UK and that includes national elections for the devolved governments

    in certain circumstances you can be excluded from voting if you have been an ex-pat for 15 years or more after legislation changed this from 20 years

    that’s all I’ve got to say about that

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