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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Voting rights for the other foreigners

The government has indicated that they want to give voting rights in the local elections next year also to the foreigners outside the EU, that are living and working in Spain. It will be done based on bilateral agreements existing between Spain and the countries of origin.

We welcome the decision and have on several occasions requested that the vote be given to all foreigners that are legally living and working in Spain, paying taxes and social security contributions. It is only fair that a person who works legally and pay taxes and contributions, shall also have a right to vote in local elections.

Of course, the government party PSOE, hopes to benefit from the initiative, even if it also has been proposed from the main opposition party, PP. The groups of immigrants from outside the EU are numerous. The greatest is the block of immigrants from Morocco, with more than 500.000 people. From Ecuador come 340.000, from Colombia 211.000 and from Romania 190.000. There are also smaller groups from China, Peru, Argentine, Bulgaria, Dominican Republic, Ukraine, Cuba and a number of other countries.

It remains to be seen which of the groups can be included in the new initiative. Some countries do not have any bilateral agreement with Spain about this.

We shall now see the political parties adjusting their programs to the new reality. The new voters may be the deciding force in certain municipalities.