As is always the case in the elections we are facing, The Leader tries to give balanced coverage from as many different groups and areas as possible, so that you are best equipped to the impending decision that could well change the future for your area. But it is also important to hear some of the stories from those you will have already come across, such as in Torrevieja, where the current councillor for International Residents, Gitte Lund Thomsen, who has helped far too many people to contemplate in the last four years, may no longer be able to carry on in the role, depending how those votes are cast.

As almost an accidental politician, this is her story, in her words.

In 2018 I had some very bad experiences with the town hall in Torrevieja. My son was going to football and the sports centre was falling apart. The bathroom in this wonderful building lacked a toilet seat. Another thing was that family members of the governing politicians would generate private income using council premises. They were selling drinks unauthorised, and they rented out the bar in the stadium without any type of licence or regulated contract.

Also, I had a very uncomfortable experience with the former councillor for international residents. I think I was attended in a very strange way where she would ask me to identify myself. This is not the job of a councillor, this is only the police that can do that. Not only was I not very happy with the way I was attended, then when she left, she had the nerve to say: “vote for me!”

I was choked! I thought it was such a pity the image I received from the town hall. I love my town, but so many things went the wrong way. We had the theatre shut, lots of events cancelled. The May Fair transferred to October, etc.

I thought this could be done better and I realised that Torrevieja had been better before. When I worked as a real estate agent, I was very impressed with Torrevieja. I loved selling houses in Torrevieja, because Torrevieja was a place where you had a certain spirit. Always something going on. Lots of sports activities, great schools, and a vibrant life around the different associations.

Now in the middle of August the beach was closed because of a lack of lifeguards, and businesses were closed. I realised that the change for the bad had entered when the five-party government had taken over. I started going to town hall meetings to find out what this was all about. I liked the party in opposition, and I liked the leader, Eduardo. Without knowing anybody I went to the party to affiliate myself and I made Partido Popular understand that if they would like my help, I would be very happy to help out by attending to the international residents. Then they put me on the committee of direction, and I really made an effort to support them during the campaign in 2019. I used social media to inform people about what happens in Torrevieja.

Eduardo then said: I would very much like to work with you and I will put you on the list of candidates, but do not expect that you will come in. Also, I did not join politics to get a job. I have a good job in Sabadell bank. But then I ended up in position 14. The night of elections at the school where I was helping out, we celebrated that we had reached a majority (13 of 25 councillors). Then I just had to park the car at home to celebrate in the square. When I arrived in the square people were congratulating me personally. I was like: What is this all about? Then I found out that more votes had been counted and we had got 14 seats, so suddenly I was a councillor. Then I asked for leave in the bank and got in as a full-time politician. And more than full time. This work is a 24-hour job.

Then I got to know the team of Eduardo and it is amazing. Eduardo is the experienced politician and then we have a team of people who are specialists in their field. Many of us do not have a political background. We have the headmaster from the school Ciudad del Mar (school that was ranked as second-best public school in Spain) Ricado Recuero to run education. Then we have the former Olympic handball player Diana Box to run sports. Then we have people who have years of experience working in the town hall. Responsible for culture, Antonio Quesada, is not only specialised in culture, but also a performing artist in the group Sette Voci. To run the department for Police and Security we have the lawyer Federico Alarcón. This year we have a new candidate number four on the list Rosa Cañón who is an experienced doctor, and she is brought in to help us get our hospital and health service back on track. The health service is not really municipal competence. It is the politicians in Valencia taking decisions for us. In our four years of governing, we have had a great loss. The hospital of Torrevieja was one of the best hospitals in the world. Highly ranked on customer satisfaction and also cost-effective. It had a private company administrating on a 15-year contract. In Torrevieja most citizens were very eager to renew the contract with the company. And renewing a contract means more investments coming. They had a plan on how to build a new medical centre in Orihuela Costa and a plan to extend the service on Torrevieja Hospital. But the politicians in Valencia had to get rid of all private administration in hospitals because of ideology. They do not want private companies in public administration. In Partido Popular we are open to different models. We do not want to privatise because of the sake of it, but when it is a model that works then why change it? In Torrevieja we had a brilliant collaboration with the management of the hospital. They were always just a phone call away. An example of this great collaboration was the set-up of the vaccination centre in CMO next to Carrefour. Most people had a positive experience, and this was thanks to the coordination between hospital, civil protection, police, town hall and associations.

In my area then it has been a matter of studying what are the needs of the foreign residents and in what way can I communicate with them. So much has got to do with padrón and what I have done here is to open my Messenger for everybody to ask questions. And also, welcome people to send emails to my department on There is a crazy obsession about getting appointments with censo, but most people do not need appointments. They can just contact Residentes Internacionales and then we will guide them through the process so that they get what they need. When it comes to applying for residence then even though it is not directly municipal competence then we are normally able to direct people in the right way. In my department my colleague Jean-Paul is normally to be found in Pangea, the little blue house on Plaza de Capdepont. I attend sometimes from La Mata town hall or from La Siesta, but in general it is always good to book appointments to make sure that we are in place. Appointments can be booked on: – Cita previa – Residentes Internacionales.

When I started my job, I thought that the former councillor would introduce me to the different functions, but nothing. I tried to get contact, but nothing. I promised myself that I would never ever act in that way. I hope that I can keep my job as a councillor for international residents, but if I have to pass it over to somebody else then I will inform them about how it runs and about the projects that are ongoing.

I think that some of the opposition in Torrevieja has a very strange behaviour. They were governing for four years and did not really do anything. But I think the problem is that they define themselves negatively. They are the ones against Partido Popular and against Eduardo. This is a very destructive attitude. One should define oneself positively expressing what it is that I want. Instead of expressing what I do not want. This is the same on all levels like the people that come to a restaurant and start to list everything that they do not eat instead of saying what they do eat.

In Spain you vote for a list and not for a person. The councillors enter according to what number on the list they are. Many people have reacted because I have gone from position number 14 to position number 15. Eduardo has assured me that he is very happy with the work that I am doing in Torrevieja. But both he and I like to make a statement to the foreigners, explaining the importance of voting.

For me to enter the town hall then we need the votes from the foreigners. I am surprised about how many people do not vote. Many Brits say that they have never voted in their life. Well here is a great opportunity to start.

Brits and Norwegians can vote when they have been residents for 3 years and then they have to declare their wish to vote every time we have elections. This year they had to declare before 15th of January to vote on the 28th of May.

EU-citizens that are residents can declare their right to vote at any time. And they only have to declare once then they can vote for EU-parliament and town hall as long as they live in Spain. With a digital signature they can enter the link:

To vote at the elections 28th of May they had to declare before 31st of January this year. But it is a good idea to express a wish to vote now. In 2024 they will then have the opportunity to vote for EU-parliament on the 9th of June.