EUROPEAN UNION TO INVESTIGATE CLAIMS OF VOTE BLOCKING IN CALVIA

By Humphrey Carter

CALVIA Council was yesterday urged by British MEP Robert Sturdy to obey the EU directives on voting while the President of the European Parliament, Pat Cox, said that he is to mount an inquiry in to claims of vote blocking by Calvia Council and write to the mayor, Margarita Najera, asking for an explanation. A substantial number of British and German residents in Calvia have complained over the past few months that their attempts to register to vote at the May 25 local elections were being blocked. The Partido Popular raised the issue, only for the socialist-led council to make no comment, but one British couple, living in Calvia, decided to contact the MEP for their former constituency of Cambridgeshire East, Robert Sturdy. Yesterday he told the Bulletin from his office in Brussels that he was “shocked” when he heard about what has been going on in Calvia and discussed the issue with the PP Balearic MEP Carlos Ripoll and the Spanish socialists in Brussels “I was even more shocked when both sides admitted to being aware of what was going on.” Sturdy raised the issue in the plenary yesterday, before the parliamentary session on Iraq, “and the President of the European Parliament said he will look into it and demand an explanation from Calvia council.” Sturdy said that Calvia council has to stop the alleged foreign vote blocking as quickly as possible because the deadline for foreign residents to register to vote is March 31, although there have been reports that some residents have been told by Calvia Council to go back a month before the elections, well past the deadline. “Calvia is part of Europe and the European directives on the freedom of movement must be obeyed, along with the EU's democratic mechanisms. “EU citizens, providing they pay local council taxes or rates, are entitled to vote in the municipal elections where they live, some areas, such as Calvia have chosen to stipulate that you must be resident for a certain period of time each year, which I think is sound, but Calvia has to let all the municipality's EU citizens entitled to vote, do so if they chose. “We (the Conservatives) signed up for this in the Maastricht Treaty and while we're busy discussing regime change and installing democracy in Iraq, we've got to get our own house in order first,” he added. It appears that a large number of EU citizens in Calvia who have tried to enroll on the electoral list but have been “blocked”, have given up, but the message is to return to the Town Hall and try again, filling in the two forms and asking for copies of both. Sturdy said that, in Brussels at least, Calvia's behaviour is not thought to be politically motivated, “my socialist colleagues are just as disturbed,” he said, adding that he hopes for a swift and quick solution to the problem “which is very undemocratic.”

CALVIA COUNCIL DENIES CLAIMS

CALVIA Council yesterday denied claims that it has deliberately slowed down the process for a number of EU residents wishing to enroll on the electoral lists. The Partido Popular in Calvia has received complaints from Britons and Germans that they were in some cases told to return a month before the elections, or asked to return with their resident permit, when a valid passport or ID document is sufficient. In general, many EU residents have complained that their bid to enroll has been slowed down and made unnecessarily complicated. Calvia Council said yesterday that it has received no formal complaint about the alleged vote blocking, although the Popular Party claims to have raised the issue with the council. To the contrary, the council accused the PP last night of “trying to manipulate Calvia residents into making false allegations and statements.” The council also officially denounced the behaviour of the Balearic PP MEP Carlos Ripoll for using the European Parliament for electoral gain and to confuse the electorate. Calvia Town Hall also said yesterday that some 300 EU residents have so far enrolled on the electoral list to vote. PSOE socialist party sources in Spain last night jumped to Calvia Council's defence saying that any apparent delay experienced by EU residents in the process is not the local council's fault, but is caused by Spanish legislation.

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