Meet the foreigners in Spain battling for your votes in the local elections

Meet the foreigners in Spain battling for your votes in the local elections
Chloe Gavin is standing for the PSOE in her town of Periana. Photo: PSOE
Across the Spanish costas, dozens of immigrants - or expats as some still call them - will be standing for a council seat.

In towns with a high density of foreign residents, it has become more common to find 'guiri's' on the local councils.

In the last municipal elections in May 2015, a total of 85 foreigners were elected to take seats on their local councils. And it’s no surprise that Britons formed the largest group.

A total of 37 British residents in Spain were elected to their local councils, the majority on the coasts with 19 in the region of Valencia and eight in Andalusia.

This time round, there are even more running, and not just Brits. Scandinavians, Germans, Dutch, Belgians, all  appear on lists across a broad spectrum of Spain’s political scene.

For some it’s the first time they have ventured into politics.


After spending four years volunteering for the council as an intermediary dealing with issues of “expats” in the hillside town of Periana in the Axarquía area of Malaga province, one British woman decided it was time to do more.

Chloe Gavin told the The Local why she is standing for the PSOE, and how the number of foreigners signed up to vote are disappointingly low.

“As well as helping to organise events such as a Christmas market, cultural trips, and a charity walk, to promote integration into the community, I have also listened to a quantity of gripes (my water pressure is low, my pavement is broken, my track is in disrepair, I have rats in my street, why can’t I get a decent burger in any of the local bars…),” explains the 47-year-old, who moved to Spain 19 years ago, married a Spaniard and has two teenage children.

“Apart from the latter, these gripes can only be resolved by the local town hall.”

She believes it is very important for foreign residents to vote and get involved in the politics of their adopted home.

“The local elections are less about political ideologies and more about the individuals standing for election. Sunday is our opportunity to vote for someone who will sort out our bumpy track, weedy pavement, poor street lighting,” she said.

“Unfortunately of the 200 plus foreigners ‘empadronado’ in Periana only around 50 will be able to vote. This is because many (perhaps due to a lack of information) wrongly assume that being  ’empadronado’ automatically gives you the right to vote. 

“I have discovered since being asked to join the mayor’s team (and unfortunately too late to act upon) that a box also has to be checked declaring your intention to vote. Others just simply are not interested in voting.”

She is among dozens who hope that they can stand up for residents rights and make their voices heard on local councils

Bill Anderson is standing for the Popular Party in Mijas on the Costa Del Sol, just along the coast from Marbella where another British businessman, Darren Sands is also standing for the PP.

British founder of the Brexpats in Spain, Anne Hernandez is standing in Mijas on a local platform Moviemiento Vecinal Mijeño championing animal welfare, the environment and the effects of Brexit on Brits in Spain.

Liz Kaeg is on the list in Competa, also for a local issue partry Por Mi Pueblo, while in neighbouring Alcaucin, Chris Cluderay is standing for Ciudadanos.

In Sedella on the Costa del Sol, there are two Brits standing for the local council, Paul Knight for Izquierda Unida and Elizabeth Morrison as an independent.

Some are already old hands, Mario Bracke, a Belgian, has been the mayor of Alcaucín since 2015.

Lars Ake Olofsson, a Swede has been a member of the council for the PP party in Benahavis, where 68 percent of the population are foreigners.

In Manilva, where close to half the population hail from elsewhere a Dutch businesswoman for the PSOE is challenging British councillor Dean Tyler Shelton for a seat on the council.

If you live in an area with a high proportion of foreign residents, the chances are that there will be at least one 'guiri' name on your ballot paper on Sunday. 

Will you vote for them? 


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