SIR,

I can understand Graham Phillips' confusion over who can vote because sometimes it is not quite so clear in the different articles that have been published. Also last time round, I also thought that the only way a resident could be a resident was with a resident's card. But the Electoral Roll Office of Spain scotched that idea. They made it very plain that anyone, i.e. Spaniards and EU citizens plus Norwegians, who was on the census, the Padrón de Habitantes, could get on the Censo Electoral.

What do you need to get on the census?
A deed or a rental contract and your passport (naturally, or resident's card, but they are doing away with those now, aren't they, although not all authorities know about that yet). The Norwegians need to show that they have lived in Spain for three years. The EU nationals do not have to prove anything about how long their stay has been. Rental contracts: I disagree with Mr Phillips about the invalidity of a private contract. The mere fact that you fill in a contract that has not been registered with the authorities (which ones are you referring to?) does not mean that owner does not pay income tax on the earnings. The onus is on the owner to do so and not everyone avoids doing this, since they often need to show that they have some form of income to cover their purchases. I know that the Balearic Government wants property owners to register their rental contracts for homes and premises, and to pay the deposits taken into the Instituto Balear de la Vivienda. This money is then used to finance the subsidised Civil Protection flats for first home owners. Unfortunately many property owners have fought against this measure since invariably the deposit is eaten up by outstanding expenses when the tenant ends the contract. However, at the moment there is no link up between that sort of registration and the Madrid Income Tax office..... not yet. Private rental contracts are accepted, at least in my town hall. Many rental contracts these days include the local rates for the tenant since this was made a legal possibility, and so once again what Mr Phillips says about them not contributing to local taxes is not true in all cases.

I quote the web page of the Spanish Censo Electoral:
Royal Decree of 2612/1996, of December 20, which modifies the Rules of Population and Territorial Demarcation of the Local Entities approved in the Royal Decree 1690/1986 of July 11 (BOE of 16 of January) Article 55.

1. Neighbours of the municipality are the people who live habitually in it, ... .... are registered on the Municipal Census. The acquisition of neighbour occurs from the very moment of registry on the Census.

2. One can only be a neighbour of one municipality.
Law 4/1996 of January 10, which modifies Law 7/1985 of April 2, Regulating the Rules of Local Regime relating to the Municipal Census.(BOE January 12).

Article 15: Everyone who lives in Spain is obliged to register on the Census of the Municipality where he/she resides habitually. Those who live in various municipalities should register only in the place where they spend most time in the year. This last article 15, is obviously open to possible fraudulent action but if people live on Majorca part of the year, if they prefer to vote on Majorca then that is their decision. Evidently this is a moral decision as unless all the voting tables in the EU were linked up by computer it would be very difficult to control the voting. However in my own opinion, since we are only talking about local elections, I do not think that this could be considered to be so bad, since if people own a property in a municipality, even if they do not live there most of the time, they are certainly interested in the municipal facilities available and I see no reason why they should not be able to vote in both municipalities. However that is not envisaged by law. At January 1, 2003 there were 671'563 Spanish citizens in the Balearics equally on the Census and the Electoral roll. There were 50'311 EU citizens on the Census and 10'344 of these had already put themselves on the Electoral Roll, a much greater percentage than in 1999. There is still time for that figure to change before 31 March, 2003, but remember, if you have never voted before in Spain and have never stated your wish to do so, you need to go to your Town Hall and sign a document to express that wish. If you are not on the Census, you may still get on it and fill in a reclamación to be able to vote. My answer now to the Editor to his request for information from the political parties to explain what they had done to encourage him to vote for them, I do hope that he meant what they had done for everyone, Spaniards and EU citizens alike, since earlier he had said that he hoped any non Spanish EU councillor would not be hoping only to represent the foreigners. And this is the case. Being involved in politics myself, I have always encouraged my party in my town to make periodical meetings with the general public to remind them what has been done and to ask opinions, not only at election time. But what has been done, has been done equally for all the residents of the municipality, and also for the visitors. I believe that here I coincide the Mr Phillips. We must look around and try to see what has or has not been done in our municipality. We must pick up the manifestos that will be distributed during the two week campaign. Prior to that no real request for a vote can be made but there is nothing against the parties holding explanatory meetings. Watch this space!

Anne Kay

Andratx

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