In the 2019 local elections there was a great deal of apathy amongst the international community where just 2,000 expatriates voted out of just over 7,000 who were registered to do so.

Unfortunately, may others, residents with an entitlement to vote, failed to ensure their name was entered on the list of electors so they were unable to exercise their right to vote on Election Day.

Time and again, the effects of this for the residents of Orihuela Costa is that instead of returning a third of the councillors sitting on Orihuela Council they got what their indifference deserved, absolutely NOTHING. As such, the lack of appropriate representation from the coast has resulted in Orihuela Costa suffering blatant discrimination by the municipal government with the poorest level of services of any area within the Orihuela Municipality.

Orihuela Costa has a population exceeding 33,000 people and is growing at a rate of roughly 700 residents a year. This means that in 10 years’ time the coastal area will be as big as the rest of the Orihuela municipality put together.

Unfortunately, however, until we get representation on the council from the coast, the area will continue to lag far behind the rest of the municipality with regard to the allocation of funding and basic services.

In spite of the coast continuing to be the major contributor to the revenue stream of the Orihuela Municipality, providing 49.8% of it’s total income, roughly €60,000,000 a year, a large proportion of what we fund will continue to be apportioned to the city centre and the municipality’s other 25 districts which, between them, provides the other 50.2%

Spain operates a system of proportional representation. This means that in order to return a councillor, a certain percentage of votes must be cast. In the 2019 Local Elections the votes cast in  Orihuela Costa, a total of approximately 2000, were sufficient to return just one councillor!

But the situation can so easily change as at the next Local Election, which will take place on Sunday May 28th 2023, it is forecast that there will be 9,000+ registered voters on the Costa, a number equivalent to 9 councillors.

Orihuela plenary
Orihuela plenary

However, how many of these actually become representatives of the coast is down to the voters, so you can see that if more residents from the international community actually make the effort to vote, the effect that it could have on the coast, its representation on the council and the influence that they would hold in a 26 seat council, could be enormous.

Unlike the system in the UK you do not vote for an individual to represent your ward. Proportional representation means that each political party has a list of candidates who are prioritised by their political party, hence you vote for a party not for an individual.

Unfortunately, as none of the main political parties in Orihuela have a presence on Orihuela Costa, e.g. no offices, no political meetings, no constituent surgeries etc. is it any wonder that the lists of candidates offered by these parties have no representation from the coast?

Looking even further ahead to the 2027 elections, as the population on the coast continues to grow, we could soon outnumber the polulation elsewhere in the municipality and in theory we could form our own council, decide who is mayor, deputy mayor and supply all the councillors, BUT only if residents get out and vote.

Before all that, in just 18 month time though, Orihuela Costa must ensure that they return a sufficient number of councillors who will actually fight for services and resources for the coast.

ALL residents with the right to vote must ensure that their voice is heard and that they contribute to ending the blatant discrimination that has been suffered by all Orihuela Costa residents for far too long.