by Irene Taylor
CATALINA Cirer, the Mayor of Palma, spoke out in favour of extending the right to vote to non-European Union residents for the municipal and regional elections in May next year. It was important, she said, not to create first and second class citizens.
Cirer said “I am in favour of people who come to live and work in our country having the vote, as there should be no discrimination between citizens.” However, she pointed out that it was not the local authorities who decided on this type of rights for foreign residents, adding that perhaps it would be questionable to grant such a right to someone here on a temporary basis, who does not plan on settling in the islands. The role of foreign residents as voters is an important one, particularly in the Balearics, where the population has risen by 20 per cent in the past few years, thanks mainly to immigration, she added. As reported in yesterday's Bulletin, a socialist proposal to give non-EU residents the vote would affect more than 63'000 people here. Over 62'000 EU residents (including 15'824 Britons) already enjoy this privilege. Rosa Estarás, the deputy leader of the Balearic government, also spoke in favour of the initiative, pointing out that the Partido Popular had made a similar proposal in January. But, she said, the government should also give non-EU residents the same discounts on travel between the islands and the islands and the Peninsula as other citizens.

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