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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Expatriate Residents Apathy to Voting :- No Vote, No Right to Complain!

Time and time again we hear in the local expatriate frequented bars and restaurants, and we read in the local English newspapers, of complaints from foreign residents in the Orihuela Municipality, and in particular in Orihuela Costa, about the Town Council's failures to look after the needs of the residents.

On the 22nd May 2011 the citizens of the municipality will have the opportunity to voice their opinions in the ultimate way by casting their vote in the local elections.

That is provided they have registered their intention to vote on the Electoral Register by the 31st December 2010!

To activate the foreign residents to register there is currently running various campaigns of encouragement under the title of 'No Vote, No Voice'. There currently is, and has been for several months, a plethora of information in newspapers and on government websites on how to, and the importance of, registering to vote in the May 2011, and future, local elections, aimed at non-Spanish residents.

Unfortunately from the information I have received, from different sources, the campaign 'No Vote, No Voice' in its various guises has at this point in time in Orihuela Costa failed to produce a substantial increase in the number of voter registrations.

Not because there has not been enough information available but because of expatriate residents apathy with regards voting!

Let me explain!

To be included on the Electoral Register a resident has first of all to be registered on the municipal civil register, the 'Padrón', a record of all residents within the council area. Unlike Spanish residents who when they register on the Padrón are automatically also included on the electoral list, peculiarly and unfairly, expatriate residents have not been offered this but have had to ask to be added. This was something they were not made aware of.

Because of this inequality the Censo Electoral office covering the Alicante province in which Orihuela is situated has, as a result of political pressure, sent out by post approximately 7500 electoral registration application forms to those foreign residents who have been added to the Padron since 2007 and not added to the electoral register. The completed forms can be posted back to the electoral office.

From information supplied from the 'Censo Electoral' office it would seem that as at the 31st October of the 7500 forms sent out only 450 have been returned completed, that is just 6% or 1 in 16 persons.

However of those returned 100 showed that the resident did not want the right to vote. That reduces the percentage of those saying they wish to vote to just 4.7% or less than 1 in 20 of the electorate.

The deadline for returning the form is the end of December so there could still be a chance of a few more being returned. Having said this there is also the facility to return them direct to the Town Hall. There are no firm numbers by this route. Being generous let's assume the same number as by post. That would still only give a figure of 700 positive registrations being just 9.4% of eligible new residents since 2007 wishing to have the right to vote!

In the elections in May 2007 there were only 3500 Orihuela Costa residents registered to vote out of a population in the region of 27000; that was just less than 13%. It is a fact that since 2007 many expatriates have returned to their home countries so the meagre 3500 will have without doubt reduced in number. The exact figure is not known but let's assume a conservative 10% reducing the figure to 3150. Now to this must be added the possible increase of 700 giving an estimated total of 3850 registered voters in Orihuela Costa; that is only 14.25% of the population.

As expatriate residents account for the substantial majority of the total population in Orihuela Costa that is why I believe that the majority of them are apathetic towards voting in the local elections for the Orihuela Town Council. They are very ready to complain vociferously about the failings of the incumbent council but not to do something about it and put their vote where their voice is!

What is the solution to get them to vote? I don't know. Perhaps there isn't a cure for apathy, unless it hits their wallets.

But it is hitting their pockets. They are paying taxes for services that they are not getting from the council. They are being conned out of their money by the council for inferior quality infrastructure, for inferior levels of policing, for inferior quality schooling for their children, inferior social amenities, inferior quality of environment, and many more failures that result in an inferior overall quality of life in Orihuela Costa.

I cannot see the logic of any resident not wishing to have the right to vote in local government elections where they live. I have no truck with the idea that foreign residents shouldn't get involved in local politics. The phrase 'No taxation without representation' springs to mind.

If only I could shout aloud to the electorate.

“Wake up citizens of Orihuela, act now so you can voice your opinion in the ballot box with your vote. Get your butts off the settee, or the bar stool, or the cafeteria bench, or the restaurant chair, and get your electoral register form completed and get it to the Town Hall or electoral censor office before the end of December, so you can vote in May 2011. The council that is elected then will control your environment and life as a resident of the municipality for the next four years. If you want change for the better then you must vote. If you don't vote, and don't get what you want, don't complain afterwards”!

Perhaps the campaign should be renamed to 'No Vote – No Right to Complain'.


  1. very good
    IT is difficult for me to understand how so many people are risking the value of the houses ( as the will deprecciate in price through less services,...), their quality of life just by not voting. For people who live here and want to get this area better it is an actitude against democracy, against us. SO when people say something bad about english living here who do not want to vote and they say they should go back where they come from, I cannot but agree.
    GO HOME is you do not want to participate in getting this area better. Go Home and never come back.

  2. I am dismayed at voter apathy in Orihuela Costa, given the lack of service provision we currently receive as residents compared to those in Orihuela city.


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