By Bill Anderson • 25 May 2023 • 10:40
Image of a man placing a voting paper in a ballot box.
Credit: Sergey Tinyakov/Shutterstock.com
The Spanish Local elections take place on 28th May, and as far as the International community is concerned it has been a poor response. In Mijas, I estimate that there are between 12 and 14 thousand residents who were eligible to register to vote, and the final number confirmed by the voters’ roll is 2,031 registered.
It is what it is. I think now what is important is that those who have been registered to vote, do all they can do to turn up on 28th.
I still hear that people don’t know who to vote for and ask me for recommendations. I’m never sure whether to laugh or cry, given that I am presenting in the elections. In the last 4 years as a councillor, I would estimate that around 70 per cent of my work has been with the UK community. Now, not everyone I have attempted to help is a resident. People with second homes here can have just as many problems to sort out as those who live here. But at the end of the day, they also pay their local taxes and are entitled to help when things go awry.
Many people have been very kind and expressed that the lack of International support has been disappointing. I can put my hand on my heart and say that this is not about me, and whether I gain a seat or not. My sadness is about the Internationals who may lose the only direct representation they have ever had on the council. It has been 4 difficult years of trying to move things forward, and I would hate to see things returning to how they were before.
Now, I am not being pessimistic here. In 2019, there were only around 3,000 international residents registered to vote, and less than 1000 actually turned up at the polling stations so we could still get more people out there on 28th than in the last elections.
This is my first experience of elections as a standing local politician and it does feel a bit strange not knowing what I will be doing one week from today. I know that this can happen in just about any job, but it is an odd feeling and on top of that knowing that your immediate future does not in any way lie in your own hands. I am in a very fortunate situation in that I have a leave of absence from my university teaching job. I like it and if I have to return, it is not a hardship.
The final run-up to the elections has been tense. Insults have started to fly, and accusations and insinuations made about various candidates. I am not sure whether to be flattered or insulted that so far no one from any of the other parties has taken a dig at me. There is also a debate going on about whether opposition councillors should receive a salary, albeit at 50% of the full councillor’s salary. All I can say is that without this during the last 4 years, I would not have been able to dedicate my time to working for the International Community. I’m not a typical politician, don’t follow the accepted way of doing things and to be a bit corny “I did it my way”.
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Bill Anderson is a Councillor with the Grupo Populares de Mijas, radio host and columnist for the Euro Weekly News
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