In Spain, Moroccans can now drop their ballots in the box

In Spain, Moroccans can now drop their ballots in the box

As a farewell gift, the Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, in office from 2004 to 2011, granted the right to vote to Moroccan nationals living in the country.

According to a Senate report, “Under the principle of reciprocity, Spain had, before enlarging the right to vote to nationals of the European Union, concluded agreements in 1989 and 1990 with the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Sweden to allow the citizens of these four countries to participate in local elections after three years of residence in Spain.

Since directive 94/80 was transposed, only the agreement reached with Norway remains applicable.

Spain has signed friendship and cooperation treaties with a number of Latin American countries, according to which each of the two parties undertakes to give the right of vote in local elections. Spain signed such treaties with Argentina in 1988, with Chile in 1990 and with Uruguay in 1992.

It was only in 2011 that more than 500,000 Moroccans gained the right to vote and stand for local elections, according to article 30: “Foreigners have the right to enjoy fundamental freedoms, a right that is recognized for Moroccan citizens, in accordance with the law. Moroccan citizens residing in Spain can participate in local elections by virtue of the law, application of international agreement or principles of reciprocity.” Therefore Moroccans can participate in local Spanish elections, and even stand as candidates to be elected to positions as councillors in municipalities with large Moroccan populations.

Morocco became the 121st country whose citizens could enjoy the right to participate in Spainish political life. “It is a major step forward for our integration in our host country,” stated El Hassane Jeffali, president of the Catalan non-profit organisation Adib Biladi, on this occasion, following the publication of the constitutional project and long before the referendum of the 1 July. “We can defend ourselves better in this new context. Racist and xenophobic parties will have second thoughts before singling us out or blaming us for economic insecurity and decline.”

61% of the French population would like to hear these words by foreigners living in France. Let’s wait for developments in 2014!

Nadjib Sellali