Richard Corbett MEP directs us to this BBC report on Spain’s rash of political parties dominated by immigrants from other European countries, especially Germany and Britain. In one municipality, San Fulgencio, there are some three such parties, including one run by a former policeman that declares its opposition to immigration.
This immediately raises an interesting question of language. As Corbett points out, the BBC reporter refers throughout to “ex-pats”, who are apparently something quite different to “immigrants”. I am an expatriate, you are a local, he is an immigrant, they are bogus asylum seekers taking our jobs? I suppose it’s not surprising that these large, usually politically silent, communities should export their political preferences with them – one can well imagine people who fit into UKIP, the BNP, or the Tory hard right fitting into what Edward Hugh calls Spanish separatism.
Certainly, we can discern a progression through perhaps three phases. To begin with, these places were tourist resorts (hence the infrastructure problems that motivate much of this political activity, the lead times being long). Then they began to be retirement communities, with the demographic shift and the run-up of the property market. Now, interestingly, not only are the retirees living longer, but the expat (or immigrant!) population is getting younger, in a symbiotic process with the appearance of an expat economy.
Tourists are politically irrelevant, at least in the context of an open society. Retirement communities may have been thought to be so. If people have families and businesses, though, they can’t help but have interests that are affected by local politics. Corbett raises an interesting point when he postulates a British Polish Party. After all, they would be starting at stage three already, although the fact a lot of them intend to leave would be a countervailing force.
I wonder how many more extranational political parties the EU will see?