Costa Brits! Get out and vote!

If you're reading this blog in Spain, turn off your computer, get down to your local ayuntamiento and make sure you're registered to vote for the European election on 7 June. Or if you're already registered, phone your British friends and make sure that they, too, have completed the paperwork.

The British in Spain are perhaps the least represented community in Western Europe. There are 800,000 of them: more, in proportionate terms, than the number of people in the UK of Pakistani origin. But whereas British Pakistanis are fully engaged in the political process, few Costa Brits so much as bother to vote. In consequence, when things go wrong - as happened when the Valencian government started seizing private property in dodgy "urbanisation" scams - expats have fewer champions than their numbers merit.
Whom to vote for on 7 June? Here are some criteria to consider.
1. Which party has the strongest commitment to property rights?
2. Which party is least implicated in local abuses involving mayors and developers?
3. Which party is likeliest to guarantee the access of British residents to free local healthcare and other services?
4. Which party would allow Spain to leave the euro, thus boosting its competitiveness and (incidentally) rescuing those who live in Spain on sterling incomes?
5. Which party opposes the European Constitution Lisbon Treaty, and respects the national sovereignty of both Britain and Spain?
Hmm. Tricky. The party to which I have always felt closest, and where I have many personal friends, is the PP. But it rules itself out on at least four of my five criteria. Some of its councillors have been involved in the worst of the property abuses. Its MEPs have sought to frustrate any censure of the Valencian land-grab laws. And, of course, it is Euro-fanatical. Then again, the same could be said in spades of the PSOE. Is there anyone with clean hands?
Yes. Step forward Alternativa Española, a Euro-sceptic anti-corruption party that has broken away from the PP. Having no dodgy mayors to defend, it is keen to address the concerns that Spanish as well as expatriate residents have about land security. It was the only party to campaign for a "No" vote on the European Constitution (apart from a small anarchist bloc and a Catalan party whose sole concern was about the status of the Catalan language in EU institutions). Alternativa Española was the outfit that organised this vigil at the Irish embassy, encouraging Ireland to stand up to the Euro-bullies.
I don't agree with AES on everything: I'm a libertarian, it tends to be Catholic and traditionalist. But its MEPs would take up the issues that British residents most frequently raise with me.
Spain operates a single national list system for European elections. It takes only 300,000 votes to return an MEP. As the Americans say, go figure.