Expat interest in politics in Spain

Hello everyone,

As an expat, your day-to-day life in Spain is impacted by decision-making at the political level in your host country as well as in your country of origin. We would like to know how involved you think expats should be in the political day-to-day of either their host or home country?

Can expats vote during elections which take place in their country of origin? Can you do so online or through embassies/consulates in Spain?

What is the administrative process which has been set up in Spain to enable expats to vote in their country of origin?

To which extent should political life in Spain include expats and their concerns? Should they be more active as a community to make their voices heard?

Are there any precautionary measures to observe during election period in your host country? Any local prohibitions?

Do you keep up with politics in Spain?

Thanks for sharing your experience.


When I first moved to Spain from the UK I thought I would soon be able to speak Spanish and one of my personal goals was that I'd have a go at getting into local politics within five years. About a year after I got here I went to a local branch meeting of one of the big political parties and they more or less threw me out on my ear. A couple of years after that I had another go at joining the same party online but I never heard anything back. I understand that local groups vet all applications so I can only presume that my local branch wasn't keen on having foreigners in its ranks even though there are lots of examples of immigrant councillors all over Spain. As it turned out of course my Spanish never got past a stumbling, halting conversational level so it was all a bit unrealistic anyway.

Up to now, as a citizen of the EU, I've had a European vote through Spain, a national vote through the UK and a local vote in Spain. Neither country has allowed me to vote at the regional level. I have now been out of the UK for 15 years so I can no longer vote there. When the UK leaves the EU my local vote will be completely dependant on the "kindness" of the Spanish Government towards us or any reciprocal arrangements. I think that denying residents the right to vote is pretty shoddy. I think that denying a vote to your nationals is equally unfair.

I have completely lost touch with UK politics. I know who the Prime Minister is because he's a novelty act internationally but otherwise I know the names of only a handful of British politicians. Generally I find that the antics of a bunch of public school boys doesn't really hold my attention now that they are a couple of thousand kilometres away. I presume that if they decide to cause me more personal damage I will find out about it from the agencies that I still seem forced to have dealings with in the UK.

I do try to keep up with Spanish politics but it can be difficult to, for instance, "read between the lines" of a statement in Spanish and a lot of the stuff locally is conducted in Valenciano, the local version of Catalan, which also keeps us out. Nonetheless I still find myself insulting the Spanish politicians on the television so I must understand some of it!

The Spanish Political scene is every bit as complicated as Brexit. I have a weekly podcast which I run with a small panel of guests. We do not masquerade as experts but try to improve our understanding and awareness of the Spanish political scene. ***

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I am a US expst, fluent in Spanish and semi-fluent in Valencian. As a non-EU citizen I cannot vote in Spain, but I am known to the local EU/Podem community and I am usually invited to local events and mitins which I sometimes attend. I try to keep informed of both local and regional Spanish politics as well as that of Europe, but my wife criticizes me for not keeping up enough. I am disturbed by what I like to call "the Trump Effect" in the US and Worldwide, in particular by the emergence of VOX. As a US citizen, I vote in the US by absentee ballot, and I recently changed my party affiliation to Republican to vote for Jim Weld in the 2020 primary. In the general, I plan to vote for ABT (Anybody But Trump).

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