In a new monthly column, author and academic Bill Anderson gives us a rundown on life and other musings from his hometown
“IF voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.”
So said Mark Twain, reflecting his rather cynical view of the world.
Even now, when we look around the world and the political turmoil in many countries, we could be forgiven for agreeing with Twain.
Last week, I had a visit from some friends who had recently returned to the UK after 30 years of living in Spain. They told us how easy it had been to get registered with the local authority, and to get onto the voters electoral roll.
I couldn’t resist asking them if they had been on the electoral census in Spain. “No,” they replied, because they didn’t think it made any difference. So, Mr Twain seems to be winning the battle, so far.
I live in Mijas, a municipality made up of around 40% foreigners. The vast majority of voting age. Now tell me that their votes couldn’t make a difference?!
In a country like Spain, which operates on democratic principles, voting or not is in direct relationship to the people who are given the power to decide how our lives will be for the following four years: in terms of taxation, work opportunities, our health service, education for our children, care of the elderly and so on.
Yes, voting is a selfish activity where we vote for those whom we think will bring us most benefit.
I have never been a party political sort of person, but have usually tried to exercise my democratic obligation to cast my vote.
Here, living in Spain, European citizens can only vote in local and European elections.
With Brexit on the horizon, it looks like the latter may be off the cards before very long!
That leaves us with the local elections, and to be honest, the political structure which most affects my day to day life is who runs my local authority.
In the last local elections in Mijas, figures show that less than one in 10 Brits actually bothered to vote and yet we dare to complain about the choices made by those who did!
What is it? Apathy or a sense of inferiority? Or is it simply that voting does not make any difference?
Rubbish…and it is now time that we stepped out of our little colonial bubble, and got involved in the political life of our municipality, wherever that may be in Andalucia, and made a difference.
First thing to know is that being on the ‘padrón’ (or local town hall register) does not give you the right to vote. Yes, you don’t automatically get registed.
You need to go to the town hall and fill in a census form, then turn up on the day: May 26 2019 to cast your vote.
Now remember this date: you only have until November of 2018 to do this. Put it in your diary.
A copy of the form can also be obtained by sending an email to me at [email protected]
Bill Anderson is a university lecturer, author, and General Secretary for the International Community for Malaga Province with the Partido Popular.