By Jason Moore

AFTER seeing the footage of people voting in Iraq and having to run a gauntlet of threats, bombs and attacks, I do feel that we in the western democracies often take our vote for granted. It took the people of Iraq to show me how precious a vote is. There was no voter apathy in Iraq and the 70 percent turnout clearly proved that we in Europe have become lazy when it comes to voting. To vote in a general election is vital and perhaps the advertisements on British television at the moment are correct; if you don't vote then you shouldn't complain about government policy afterwards. However, I am one of those thousands of people who now exist in Europe who can't vote in a general election anywhere, not in my country of origin or in my adopted country. I have lived outside the United Kingdom for more than 15 years, I have never been on the electoral roll in Britain and I can't vote in Spain because I am non-Spanish and therefore I've got no vote. Tough luck, you might think. My only option if I want to vote is to either move back to Britain (no thanks!) or become a Spanish citizen. But why should I as a European have to take another nationality simply because I want to exercise my democratic right? I am very happy as a British citizen living in Spain and I don't see why I should have to change. This is just my case. If I could vote in the general election in Britain, which even though it hasn't been called yet the Civil Service has gone into overdrive to make sure that we can, it would be a protest vote against all the mainstream parties. I think I might vote for the Raving Looney Party because expatriates are being treated as such by the British government who only call on our support when it comes to election time meanwhile the rights of British pensioners living outside the United Kingdom are not recognised at all. A meagre state pension and the vote. That's it. Meanwhile, while we are dismissed as not being worthy of any benefit because we are living in some paradise, where it is never cold and everyone takes a long siesta and everyone has loads of money, they still want us to vote for them. Vote I would, but not for you.

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