27 Jun 2014

King in Spain, plebe in Australia

Last week Spain's Felipe VI was sworn in as king.

The ceremony took place only a few days after I sent a letter of complaint to the electoral registry in Spain for being deprived the right to vote in the recent European elections.

When I moved to Australia I registered in the Spanish Consulate in Sydney. I also registered in the voting census, as being registered in the Consulate is not enough to be allowed to vote in Spanish or European elections. I was surprised when I got a letter from Spain asking me to confirm that I wanted to vote. Although annoyed at this extra and ridiculous step I sent the letter back confirming that yes, as I thought it would be clear by the fact I had gone to the trouble of registering in the consulate, I wanted to vote. Despite this, I got my ballot papers too late and therefore couldn’t vote.

All this played in my mind as I saw coverage in Spanish and international newspapers of the coronation of Spain’s new king. According to ‘Marea Granate’ only 70,972 replies were received from the 1.72 million people registered to vote abroad. Of those 70,972 there would be some who, like me, didn’t get their papers in time.

I think we may be facing a similar farce in the next Spanish national election and that many people who have left the country won’t be able to express their views.

A lot of people who left Spain felt forced to do so because of the poor employment and life conditions they had to face. Many would have voted for a change in the way things are being done in the European Parliament.

So I can’t help but being cynical about how inefficient the system is for those of us who are far from home and still want to have a say in national and European politics.

Seeing the new king and his family wave from a balcony at the Royal Palace feels insulting to me. It’s an important reminder of how far we still have to go to ensure Spain becomes a truly democratic country.