Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My no vote

No, I did not vote in the municipal elections in Spain last Sunday.
Why, had I not been resident the 3 years required for a Norwegian to be able to vote?
I have been in Spain for more than 40 years.

Maybe I had not registered in the padron municipal of my municipality?
I have been there for many years, renewed the last time on 5th of June 2006.

Maybe I am not interested in politics?
I have been interested in politics since I learned to read.

Maybe I am not interested in the foreigners vote?
I have been working for the right of the foreigners to take part in Spanish local elections since 1985, proposing to the Norwegian government to start bilateral negotiations to permit the vote of Norwegian residents in Spain.

Then why did I not vote in the municipal elections of Spain last Sunday?

I will tell you:

When the Spanish government in 2003, after instructions from the EU and long time of pressure from the association Ciudadanos Europeos to comply with the Maastricht Agreements to create the European citizenship by lifting the requirement for Europeans to carry a residence permit, took a small step in the right direction by suppressing the need for Europeans who had been working and contributing to the social security system, to take out or renew their residence permits.

It was a small footnote in the law obliging the foreigner not having to carry a residence permit, to prove to any part of the administration requiring so to provide a certificate that they were in the category of the ones liberated. To get such a certificate you had to go through almost the same process as for renewing a residence permit: queuing up in front of the foreigners offices or the stations of the national police with a foreigners department with your passport, NIE-card and passport photos.

I have since 2003 on several occasions when I tried to identify myself with my Norwegian passport and NIE-card, met a refusal to accept the law from 2003, and a demand for a certificate. I know that most of other foreigners in the same situation have given up the struggle with the bureaucratic windmills, and asked for a renewal of the residence permit. I refused to go that way, throwing away the small advantage we won in 2003.

Giving up the vote

When in June 2006 I renewed the inscription in the padron municipal of my town hall, I was again requested to provide a certificate from the national police. I complied with the request, but decided this was the last police certificate I would apply for in Spain.

But when I in the beginning of this year signed a document that I wanted to use my vote in the municipal elections in Spain and not in my home country, I again met the request for a certificate. I referred to the one I had provided in June 2006 when renewing on the padron municipal.

Shortly afterwards I got a letter from the provincial delegation of the Oficina del Censo Electoral, informing me that they had decided not to include me in the election lists since I had not given a certificate.

That was the reason I did not vote in the municipal elections last Sunday.