Six months prior to the next municipal elections the campaign to encourage residents to vote is intensifying in Orihuela, especially on the Coast, with special focus on international residents. In the municipality there are 70,379 registered people of legal age of 116 nationalities. The are made up by Spanish (43,959), followed by the United Kingdom (9,936), Morocco (1,914), Russia (1,358), Belgium (1,258) and Ukraine (1,062).
Orihuela Costa represents a third of the municipal population, however, at the last municipal elections in 2019, of the almost 8,000 registered on the electoral roll, only 2,528 people actually voted
In an effort to expand that figure, particularly for non Spanish residents, a presentation took place last Thursday morning, organised by the Department of Immigration and Citizen Participation.
Although most of the seats were taken, the attendance was less than 50 people, many of them employees of the Municipal Government, councillors, aides, assessors and local staff.
Of the remaining personnel, a third were Spanish, Irish, German, Norwegian and Icelandic, none of whom were affected by the changing legislation, leaving a group of approximately 20 people from the United Kingdom, this from a British population in the Orihuela municipality of almost 10,000.
Nevertheless, in the presence of Juan De Dios Navarro, the Deputy for International Residents of the Alicante Province, Brahim El Habib, also from the Alicante Diputacion, the Orihuela Councillor for Statistics, Ángel Luis Muñoz, and the British Vice Consul Sara Munsterhejlm, the conference got underway.
It was explained, largely by the Vice Consul, that, following BREXIT, the United Kingdom and Spain signed a reciprocal agreement entitling residents of each country to vote in the Municipal or Local elections, the next of which will be held in Spain on 28 May 2023.
However, those people wishing to do so must have been resident in the country for a minimum of 3 years, be over 18 years of age, and be registered with the municipality.
In the case of EU Nationals who have voted previously, no action is necessary, however Non EU Nationals, which includes those from UK, will receive a letter at their home address from the Junta Electoral. The enclosed form, in English, must be completed and returned in the pre paid envelope provided. That is all that needs to be done. Alternatively the recipient may complete the form online. The closing date for registration is 15 January 2023.
Non EU citizens, from countries with a reciprocal agreement, must now register to vote every time they wish to do so.
Non EU citizens who have been resident in Spain for more than 3 years, but who have not previously voted, must declare their right to do so with their town hall. Applications may be made from 1 December 22 to 15 January 23. The procedure is the same also for EU citizens, but they have until 30 January to register.
The Orihuela councillor said that the Playa Flamenca town hall will be opening for additional hours during the registration period.
Following the seminar the panel took questions, predominantly from leaders of local Associations and Political Parties, with the main emphasis being on the town hall’s ability to cope with a large number of potential registrations in such a short space of time, 6 weeks in total, but interrupted by Christmas, New Year and Three Kings.
Moving north, if you live in San Fulgencio the town hall is also hosting the seminar at the Cardenal Belluga Theatre this coming Friday, November 25, beginning at 10am.
San Fulgencio’s Councillor for International Relations, Darren Parmenter, said: “The talk is one of the many ways we’re trying to spread this important information and to ensure that UK nationals with the right to vote are fully aware of what they need to do. Sadly, the registration time is short (between 1 December 2022 and 15 January 2023) and so the more people that know the process, the better”.
For those unable to attend in person, full details will be published on the Facebook page of the San Fulgencio Town Hall after the presentation. The event will also be recorded and published on Facebook.
Rojales Council, meanwhile, has distributed an email, also providing the relevant information with advice that anyone with doubts or questions should visit Rojales Town Hall or the Municipal Centre of Ciudad Quesada. You can also contact them at email@example.com or phone to 96 572 57 22.
One further seminar is planned for Pilar de la Horadada on 2 December. It will be held in the Casa de Cultura starting at 10.30am.
I would also add that the Alicante Diputacion has an excellent website in English at: www.votoresidentesalicante.com.