Brits To Keep Local Election Vote Post-Brexit

British nationals living in Spain will be allowed to vote in their local council elections this May and continue to stand as candidates, with existing councillors permitted to keep their seats.

A deal between the UK and Spanish governments signed in Madrid comes as light relief for the estimated 300,000 Brits in Spain who believed that after Brexit they would no longer have a say in who spent their municipal taxes and what decisions were made in their home towns that could affect their daily lives.

More worrying still was the position for Brits who already hold a council seat, especially those high enough up candidate lists in ruling parties to be earning a partial or even full wage from their role and who feared that they would automatically be forced to stand down.

Anyone not eligible to vote is not eligible to stand for election or hold a council or government seat, which is why foreign nationals unless they hold joint citizenship are not present on any government in Spain or the rest of the world.

In Spain, all EU citizens are automatically entitled to vote in local elections, but only Spaniards, either native or naturalised, are permitted to vote for their regional and national government representatives.

With Britain poised to leave the EU at midnight on March 29th, its nationals in Spain assumed they would lose the right to vote along with other freedoms they have enjoyed as residents in the country since Spain joined what was then the EEC in June 1985. The agreement will take effect immediately from Brexit day and does not need to be ratified in either Parliament.

Any Brit who has not voted before only had until January 30th to register on the electoral census. This census is not the same as the padrón, which holds details of everyone living in a town and their address and which everyone is obliged and has the right to be on.  The padron is essential for proving residence when applying for a mortgage, buying a car, registering with a health centre or school, switching driving licences and similar transactions and entitles certain residents to council benefits including social service grants and discounts for the disabled, single parents and pensioners, where available. Those who spend six months or more of the year in Spain should register on the padrón, since the regional and national governments allocate funding per head for services and development, meaning each name on the padrón is an additional sum of money for the council.

Once on the padron, anyone who has not voted before in a local council election can then put their name on the electoral census.

Only about 90,000 are registered to vote, meaning up to 210,000 Brits could potentially have an influence on how their town is run. Spain is the first EU country to reach a deal with the UK enshrining the right to vote in local elections post-Brexit, after long negotiations which started in October.

€500 Notes Withdrawn From Circulation

Central banks in Eurozone countries have started to withdraw €500 notes from circulation, except in Germany and Austria. They will remain legal tender, even though the Central European Bank (BCE) stopped minting them from the end of 2018.

Until a few years ago, Spain was the country with the most €500 notes in circulation in the Eurozone. €100 and €200 notes have also become rare, although €100 notes in Spain still represent a quarter of all the euro banknotes in circulation and are the second-most common denomination in existence after the €50 note.

Spanish Diet Is The Healthiest 

A Mediterranean diet has long been hailed as one of the most healthy, even though it is said to be in decline in Spain and is far less likely to be the régime of choice in inland areas, where red meat is more likely to be served up for the family dinner than grilled fish and salad. Fewer people in Spain die from conditions caused by a poor diet than anywhere else on the continent. Spain’s diet is the best if you want to live long and healthily according to extensive research in Germany. 

A positive correlation has been seen over 27 years between mortality resulting from diet-related diseases and a low consumption of fruit, vegetables, olive oil, nuts and seeds and a high consumption of salt, refined sugar, saturated fats and red meat. Spain shows the lowest incidence out of all 51 countries, showing that Spanish cuisine is one of those rare phenomena which is good for you as well as being enjoyable. Poor dietary choices contribute to more potentially fatal health conditions than smoking and lack of physical activity combined. Spain already has one of the world’s longest life expectancies, with almost 15,000 residents aged 100 or more and, unofficially, 11 residents aged 110 or over.

Spain Is World Number One In Transplants For 27th Year

Spain once again leads the field in the number of organ transplants carried out and donors are becoming more and more frequent. In 2018, donors rose in number by 37%, from 2,183 to 2,243, allowing surgeons to carry out a total of 5,314 transplant operations; up from 5,259 in 2017.

The National Transplant Organisation (ONT) aims to break the 5,500 barrier by the year 2022. Transplant numbers come in at 114 per million inhabitants (the highest proportion in the world) breaking records with kidney and lung transplants.

One in three donors, became so after they were confirmed clinically dead due to irreparable cardiac arrest, or cessation of heartbeat. Over 100 hospitals in Spain are authorised to carry out transplants from these donors. Live donors are more limited in the organs they can provide, although typically segments of liver, (this can be extracted from a live patient), kidneys (one alone is enough for survival) and stem-cell and bone-marrow transplants can be carried out using donations from persons who are still living.

Non-live donors who were victims of traffic accidents have reduced to 3.8% of the total. More than half of all donors were aged over 60, with 31% being over 70 and 9% over 80. The oldest successful donor in Spain last year, who provided a liver for transplanting, was aged 91. 

Spain’s transplant record is not just the result of a high non-disease-related mortality rate, but also the fruit of patients agreeing in life to donate their organs after death, or their next of kin being willing for them to do so if it is too late for the patient to express these wishes.

Last year, only 14.8% of families refused to allow their deceased loved ones to become organ donors. 

Spain is also a world leader in campaigning against organ-trafficking in line with the United Nations’ resolution. There are cross-party plans in Parliament to make every person a donor unless they or their next of kin expressly state otherwise. It is advisable to make one’s wishes clear in life, including in a last will and testament.

Fernando Alonso To Help Design New McLaren F1 Car 

Retired Formula 1 ace Fernando Alonso will continue to work with his old team, McLaren in 2019. He is now focusing on the World Endurance Championships (WEC) and on becoming only the second driver in history – after the UK’s Graham Hill – to net the motorsport ‘triple crown’ and will continue working on developing McLaren’s new F1 racing cars for the forthcoming season.