The expatriate vote was a measure approved by the PSOE in 2011 with PP support.
Tamara Fariñas. Madrid
Almost 94% Spanish expatriates will not be voting in the upcoming general elections being held on 20 December. The Electoral Board and the ‘mareas granates’ (expatriate organisations) attribute this large drop in voting to the reforms approved by the PSOE in 2011, with PP support, which makes access to voting difficult from overseas.
The number of expatriates who have complied with the procedure to register to vote from abroad in the next general election is slightly higher than that of 2011 when it touched 5% but if it is compared with figures for the elections in which expatriates did not have to “plead” for their vote, the figure is not very encouraging. In 2008, 383.000 of the 1,2 million expatriates were able to vote, somewhat more than 31%; this year only around 115.000 of the almost 1,9 million expatriates will have the right to vote: a little more than 6% Spaniards registered abroad.
According to the Electoral Board, there are what are being called “difficulties” for Spaniards resident abroad to be able to exercise their right to vote, something which was also alleged in the autonomous elections of 24 May. The Board has said that it is aware “of the difficulties involved in exercising their right of suffrage by Spaniards resident abroad within the terms of the current legislation”.
In 2011, the Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero approved, with the backing of the PP and the CiU, the electoral reforms that obliged Spaniards resident abroad to request their vote in the event of elections. Since then, in order to exercise the right to vote it is necessary to follow a long and arduous bureaucratic route that runs from prior registration in the pertinent consulate —as either a temporary or permanent resident— to requesting the vote in order to proceed to do so afterwards by post or in the embassy or consulate where this is facilitated for this purpose.
Launch of a campaign whereby abstaining voters transfer their vote to expatriates
The Marea Granate, an expatriate association formed to denounce this situation, has soundly criticised that only that 6% of the 1,8 million expatriates have presented their requests —losing their health cover in Spain, they point out— having had “the luck or the ability to complete the bureaucratic gymkhana, the complicated process of requesting the vote”: Therefore, they have launched a campaign, #RescataMiVoto, where they are suggesting that those who abstain from voting in Spain transfer their vote to all expatriates who have not completed the registration process.
In addition, the Marea Granate has also denounced the lack of information and lack of access to information in the embassies and consulates on the procedure on voting from abroad.