FOREIGN residents who have invested their time, money, and energy in Cataluña have a lot riding on the elections on Thursday, but no say in the outcome, as they can’t vote in autonomous regional elections.
In a survey a whopping 45% of respondents said they are considering leaving Cataluña as a result of the independence drive.
And 76% of expats surveyed said they are against the independence drive, and expats from countries like Cuba, Venezuela, and Russia, where there is little real democracy or freedom of speech, were the least sympathetic to the Catalan separatist cause.
“The independence movement has come to dominate public life in Cataluña, but the identity politics of it leaves many expats cold,” comments Mark Stücklin, head of Spanish Property Insight, an expat who has been living in Cataluña for 20 years.
“Expats choose to live in Cataluña because of its high quality of life, so they struggle to relate to the historical grievances and nationalist emotions of the independence movement,” says Stucklin.
“An exodus of expats would be a disaster for Cataluña.”
“Expats are around 15% of the population of Cataluña but can’t vote unless they apply for Spanish citizenship, which most don’t,” says Stucklin.
“If expats were allowed to vote in regional elections, I expect they would tip the balance of power in favour of the status quo.”
• The survey was organised by Spanishpropertyinsight.com, and distributed by email, Whatsapp, word-of-mouth and Facebook. 472 responses were received by expats living in Cataluña between November 9 December 13.