By Humphrey Carter
A group of Non-Spanish European Union citizens resident in Majorca are considering mounting some form of protest action in the New Year over the Spanish government's decision to deny non-Spanish citizens the right to participate in February's referendum on the new EU Constitution.

Yesterday, central government's representative in the Balearics Ramon Socias explained that Spain's new pro-European Socialist government decided that only Spaniards will be able to vote in the February referendum on the grounds that “only Spaniards should decide on the country's foreign policy”. He added that EU citizens can vote in their own countries.

Socias also accused Calvia's Conservative councillor for Foreign Affairs, Kate Mentink, who heavily criticised the Spanish government's decision last week, of “pure political agitation.” Nevertheless, and whatever the government's reason, when the Bulletin broke the news, the reaction among the non-Spanish European resident community was of disbelief, than surprise and then anger.

So much so that some European resident tax-payers are considering mounting some form of protest in the New Year to voice their opinion.
There is not enough time for any official challenge to the decision to be made but some believe it worthwhile in making their voice heard. “We can vote in the European elections and they wanted our vote in the municipal elections, now suddenly we're banned from the EU referendum,” one Calvia resident said yesterday.

Brussels has made it clear that it is up to each government holding a referendum to decide who can participate. With regards to “voting in their own referendum”, British residents in Majorca, for example, have to wait until prime Minister Tony Blair decides how he wants to hold the referendum and all of the other EU residents are in a similar position.

What some are worried about is that they may be neither allowed to participate in Spain nor vote in the referendum in their country of origin.
Mentink said yesterday that she is still fielding a steady flow of calls from EU residents in Calvia, but this week it has been to confirm that they are not being allowed to vote.

Spain's new pro-European government will be the first EU member state to hold a referendum on the new Constitution and many countries are taking a “wait and see” attitude before proceeding with theirs.


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