SIX in 10 residents in Catalunya believe the planned referendum is 'illegal' or 'invalid' and will not vote, according to a poll in national daily broadsheet – but regional president Carles Puigdemont...
If I ruled the world
Let’s see what you, the readers, would do if you had been elected as mayor or mayoress of your town last month…
Unless you have been living on Mars lately, it cannot have escaped your notice that the local elections in Spain were held on May 27. Us expatriates fall into three categories – those who voted; those who abstained, believing their single ballot would make no difference to the parking crisis, leaky health centre roof or dog-excrement-filled streets of their town, and those who were voted for.
Many expats’ contribution to democracy does not stop at handing in a voting slip. Foreigners are joining forces with Spanish councillors to do their bit for their municipality – of these, more than a hundred electoral candidates were British.
Here at thinkSPAIN|today we were curious to know what our readers would do if they had been voted in as mayor or mayoress.
Some of you had some very constructive ideas that ranged from street-cleaning to Spanish tests for foreigners, roadworks to river diversion, and ‘green’ fiestas to grants for house-painting.
Yet some of you had ideas that were just plain crazy. National Donut Day? Banning fashion faux pas? Slippery pole competitions for councillors? Whatever next?
Clean up, pay up and learn to integrate
George Lennon, from Sax, wants to ban noisy mini-motorbikes, mopeds and motorbikes, fine dog-owners who fail to clean up after their pets, clamp down on litter-bugs and jail graffiti artists.
R.J., who has a holiday home in Oliva, has similar sentiments regarding the state of his adoptive town’s streets. “I would ban all dogs - I hate dog poo - litter-louts, and speeding cars,” he reveals, but on the positive side he would plant more flowers in the town, resurface any potholed roads and pass a byelaw forcing everyone to smile, all the time.
“I would bring in a municipal law that meant all guests had to hire a car and give a contribution to their hosts, if not the town hall would call round and fine them,” reveals Marcelle from Pego when asked what she would do if she was elected.
The council would recognise them instantly, she says, because “at the supermarket, they fill up the trolley with booze and the hosts think they are going to replace all they have drunk when in fact they pack it into their suitcase and take it home.” She explains she would make the town hall publish a list of offenders on their notice board.
“Anyone who moans that the Spanish don't speak English, or that there are too many foreigners here - alluding to the Spanish - would be brought before a peoples’ court and tried…in Spanish,” she continues.
Simplicity and clarity
Chuck Svoboda, from Canada, reveals his wife Lisa, a Swedish national, was running for the council in Benissa before this year’s elections. “She was fourth on the Independent list, but only three were elected,” Svoboda observes.
“The two main things I would have done if I had been elected as mayor would have been to make access to town hall administration simpler and more transparent. The second thing would have been to demand a forensic and total review of the town's books.”
This second idea was inspired by the news that recently broke alleging that neighbouring town, Calpe, has a debt of 68 million euros.
Chuck and Lisa feel strongly that all nationalities should be represented on the council, as the issues that affect expatriates may not necessarily always be relevant to native residents.
“Here in Benissa, those living in the coastal zone - almost half the total population, mainly EU residents, and the area that pays the highest taxes - more than half of the town's revenues - have no representation on the new town council.”
Painting the town – but not necessarily red
Juan, from Oliva, says “I would
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