THE census office this week confirmed that the final total number of European Union and Norwegian foreign residents in the Balearics who have enrolled on the electoral lists for the May 25 local elections is 12.449, twice the number of foreign residents which voted at the last local elections Figures held by the Electoral Census Office show that in 1999, 6.639 foreign residents enrolled to vote but the final set of figures produced by the Census of Foreign Residents in Spain, now that all the paperwork has been processed by the local councils, shows that twice as many foreigners can vote next month. The majority of foreign resident voters, 2.381, live in Palma while Calvia accounts for the second largest foreign voting community with 2.198 residents on the list, although the foreign vote in Calvia is a much greater proportion of the total vote than in Palma. Including Spaniards living overseas but voting in the Calvia elections, the total municipal electorate is 28.336, in Palma the total is 272.757, so the foreign vote in Calvia is much more important and could have a significant effect on the final outcome on election day. Across the Balearics, 695.297 people are entitled to vote at the forthcoming election compared to 643.428 in 1999.
Of all the islands, Majorca accounts for the largest foreign voting community with 9.922 European Union and Norwegian voters.
1.348 foreign residents are eligible to vote in Ibiza, 924 in Minorca and finally, 269 on the smallest of the Balearic islands, Formentera. As Spain's deputy prime minister Rodrigo Rato made clear to the Bulletin during the week, all of the political parties are aware of the importance of the foreign vote. Both the PSOE socialist party, which leads the present coalition government, and the opposition conservative Partido Popular, have held special election rallies for the foreign voting communities. Sources for both the two main parties have made it clear that in some local council elections, the foreign vote could prove crucial.
In municipalities such as Soller, Pollença, Alcudia and Deia, for example, the number of foreign voters has at least doubled over the past four years.
In Andratx, the number of foreign voters has risen from 258 in 1999, to 561 while in Escorca, the same foreign voter who cast his or her vote in 1999, will be doing so again and in Villafranca, this time around there are four foreign residents enrolled to vote compared to the one in 1999. But, albeit the single vote in Escorca or the 2.381 in Palma, Rodrigo Rato said that the foreign voters are very important as the government “wants and needs to hear the needs of the foreign community.” At the last local elections, there was a great deal of talk about parties being set up for the foreign community, one German businessman did in fact establish a local party to care for German residents in Majorca, but four years on, no foreign party is standing. Political campaigning officially kicks off this week across the Balearics and Spain and in the case of the Balearics, the May 25 elections are going to be very important. Deputy prime minister Rodrigo Rato said in Palma this week that the local electorate has to understand that it has the chance to decide how it wants to live and the quality of life it enjoys for the next four years next month and should give serious consideration to the local issues being presented by the local candidates for the political parties.


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