New Minister in favour of Immigrants right to vote in Spain

New Minister for Work in favour of giving immigrants the right to vote

Celestino Corbacho, the new Minister for Work and Immigration is in favour of giving immigrants the right to vote saying that ‘if these people can’t vote then they won’t be interested in what happens in the city where they are living’.

Acording to El Mundo when Corbacho was the mayor of L’ Hospitalet de Llobregat and president of the regional government of Barcelona he argued that ‘the integration of immigrants is not complete because they can’t vote which is why this social group’s interest in local politics is very low’.

In fact in August 2006 PSOE put forward a proposal which would have given foreign legal residents in Spain the right to vote in local elections. The proposal had the approval of the president of the government, Zapatero. However, he did not include this controversial proposal in his government’s legislative programme and it was left up to Jesús Caldera, then the Minister for Work and Immigration to suggest that immigrants could be given the right to vote in local elections.

Nevertheless, the vice president, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, put a stop to the debate affirming that ‘this issue was not in the government’s sights’.

Now with Celestino Corbacho in charge of the department for work and immigration it will be interesting to see whether the debate over giving votes to legal foreign residents in Spain is placed on the political agenda.

L’ Hospitalet, where he was mayor, has one of the largest immigrant population in Catalonia. It is estimated that there is an immigrant population of around 53,806 compared to an indigenous population of 198,042. The percentage of the immigrant population has risen from 4% to 23% in recent years. In some neighbourhoods in this Catalan locality foreign residents make up 40% of the population and in some schools 80% of the pupils are foreign.