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Madrid Election Talk: The platform giving immigrants the right vote

22 April 2021

View article in Arabic, Spanish, Catalan, French, Portuguese, Italian, Bosnian, Romanian, Bangla, Mandarin and Russian.

Can’t vote? You CAN be a part of the conversation!

Madrid Election Talk has been created for the Madrid elections on 4 May 2021 in order to inform and empower anyone who lives in Madrid but who does not have the right to vote. By knowing our local politics, we can talk to our friends, our colleagues, our neighbours and our family-in-law and help influence voter turnout of the Left and stop Ayuso being re-elected!

The Barrios of the South are the most underrepresented neighbourhoods in Madrid.

Lavapiés, Usera, Carabanchel, Vallecas, Orcasitas and Villaverde have a high percentage of immigrant residents but also some of the lowest percentages of people with the right to vote. In Lavapiés, the most multicultural neighbourhood in Spain, up to a third of residents hold a foreign passport and, even if they’re registered here and pay their taxes, they still don’t have the right to vote in regional and national elections.

Not having the right to vote silences the voices of entire neighbourhoods and communities.

These neighbourhoods and communities are the very people that Safia El Aaddam, a writer and activist, wants to platform – and she’s doing it via Votar es un Privilegio, which she launched a month before the April 2019 national elections. It all began with a message on her social media:

You have been making me invisible since I was born. But I’ve been screaming since I’ve had a voice. And you will never shut me up.

The platform, which translates as “Voting is a privilege”, was originally created for people who, despite being born in Spain, have so far been unable to obtain Spanish nationality. Safia is one of them; now an adult, she still can’t vote here and quite rightly calls the Spanish democratic system institutionally racist.

They want to make us invisible but they are not going to achieve it. These elections, we are going to make ourselves heard.

Since launching Votar es un Privilegio two years ago, Safia has opened up the platform for anyone who lives in Spain but cannot vote for whatever reason.

How it works:

People who do not want to vote (often anarchists or anyone disenfranchised with politics in general) can pass their vote on to someone who would love to vote but can’t. Votar es un Privilegio puts these two people in touch with each other via Instagram. From there, the two new contacts can start a conversation and explain who they want the other to vote for. The sign-up process takes around 20 seconds, and you will be connected with your contact within around a week.

Safia claims on her website that this platform has enabled thousands of immigrants to vote – which, in such a tight election, might just swing the vote.

#votaresunprivilegio

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