Put Your “X” In The Box


Donald Rumsfield famously said “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know”. As I think about this I’m sitting in Las Columnas in Palma de Mallorca. The weather is a balmy 18°C and I have just been in a meeting with a Spanish client. Earlier today I met with an Italian artist, and before that I had a coffee with a French colleague. Now I’m working on my regular column for the Euro Weekly for the British residents of Spain. I’ve lived in Mallorca for almost twelve years now, but last weekend I went back to the UK for a quick visit. It was exciting to see the new restaurants and products which you can get in the shops over there, and it was lovely to catch up with my old friends, but would I really want to live there anymore? I really don’t know. With the EU referendum coming up my husband and I have both checked that we are registered to vote, and we intend to. We hadn’t felt that we had the right to vote for the UK general elections, after all, we don’t live there anymore. We would love to have the right to vote in the Spanish ones, but apparently, according to Spanish politicians non Spanish EU members just don’t have the interest in politics, so why should they bother changing the law? It’s a complicated situation: we are all entering the unknown, the British politicians don’t know any more than we do what might happen if the UK decided to leave the EU, they also don’t know what would happen to people like me. I’m a Brit, with a green residencia paper (currently being upgraded to permanent status thanks to Mallorca Solutions) but if my country of birth leaves the EU, will I lose some of the rights that I have here in Europe?


On the other hand, what if it improves the situation for us Spain lovers? If Britain is no longer a member of the EU perhaps I will then become able to vote in the National and Regional elections… what a treat that would be, to have a say in how my taxes are distributed. My friend Kate tells me that I shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the local elections and the power of our mayors when I grumble about it, she’s right that I don’t really understand about the direct impact they can have on my quality of life. I voted in the last local elections here on the island, did you?

Are you registered to vote?  If you aren’t registered, why aren’t you registered? It’s your duty, and your responsibility and your right to have your say. And if you don’t put your “x” in the box then it is seen as a lack of interest which subsequently leads to our rights as British nationals living in Spain to be ignored again. I for one am still a British passport holder, but if it came to it, would I relinquish my status and become a Spanish citizen? Will it come to that? Nobody knows. mallorcamatters


From left, Senator Gari Dural, Mayor of Palma Mateu Isern, and President of the EPORE Kate Mentink.

From left, Senator Gari Dural, Mayor of Palma Mateu Isern, and President of the EPORE Kate Mentink.

Nobody can have failed to note that this year 2014 we are remembering the start of the First World War, a war so terrible that it was called “the war to end all wars”. It didn’t, and just 25 years later Europe and the world was immersed in another war of such huge proportions that millions and millions of young lives were once again lost in truly unimaginable circumstances.

Out of such horror, the leaders of the Western world made one wise decision, the creation of what was to become the European Union. The world has changed completely since those times, with the introduction of global communications, international trade and scientific development that can take us to the moon and cure crippling diseases. What has not changed is the human capacity for cruelty and aggression, whatever the cause they fight for.

The European Union, with all its faults, is a basic element in securing peace within the 28 countries it represents. Most of the more than 500 million citizens of Europe today do not have any personal experience of such wars. This is not a reason to forget them.

On the 25th May 2014, all citizens within the 28 countries of the European Union are called to vote for their representatives in the European Parliament. Incredibly there are many politicians who would have us believe that the European Union is no longer necessary in our lives, or is simply inconvenient for their own political motives. How easily and how quickly they forget. These elections in Spain on 25th May are enormously important for all of us living in Europe, and none more so than those of us who have had the possibility to live, work and retire in a country other than our own, thanks to being European citizens. To not participate actively by voting in these elections is, in my opinion, a total lack of respect for all who gave their lives in two World Wars to ensure “peace in our time”.

I ask EVERY NON-SPANISH EUROPEAN CITIZEN living here in the Balearic Islands to use just a few minutes of their time to register at their local Town Hall BEFORE 30th JANUARY to ensure their right to vote in the European elections. USE THIS RIGHT. HAVE A VOICE AND VOTE.

By Kate Mentink.