17 Jun, 2022 @ 18:00
1 min read

OPINION: Give expats full voting rights in Spain


THE Right to vote is considered one of the most fundamental rights in a democracy.

A mere century ago women were throwing themselves under horses to win that right and now few outside of North Korea would argue against the need for universal suffrage.

And yet, here we are, a whole section of society – millions of expats – disenfranchised as Andalucia heads to the voting booth to decide its regional lawmakers for the next four years.

The same appalling state of affairs will be repeated again come December when Spanish national elections are expected to take place.

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THE Right to Vote is considered one of the most fundamental rights in a democracy. Image: Cordon Press.

Because according to Spain’s constitution only its citizens have a right to determine who runs their regional and national administrations.

Foreign residents, even those who have lived here most of their working life and who pay taxes here, are denied a vote.

Thankfully, democratic rights exist on a local level and expat residents can vote for their local council and even run for a seat on it.

Brits too have retained the right to do so even after Brexit thanks to a bilateral agreement between the UK and Spain that has not been afforded to those living in France, Italy, Austria and Germany.

And while campaigners have fought long and hard and ultimately successfully to maintain the right to vote in UK elections for life – removing the previous cut off point of 15 years – it was too late to affect the Brexit vote.

However, while that was a genuine disaster for most British expats, we’d argue it’s more important to have a say in the governance of where we now live than the country we decided to leave behind.


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