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Author Topic: Interesting piece by Tenerife Sun Editor Roger Diss  (Read 4932 times)

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reproduced courtesy of the Tenerife Sun
THE Tamaimo cemetery car park was filled to overflowing endash  all there for mayor Juan Damian Gorrin Ramos. They came not to bury the mayor but to praise him.
More than 1,200 packed into the municipal pavilion of Tamaimo, right opposite the cemetery, for the presentation of the incumbent mayor as candidate for the same job in next Mayquote s local elections.
So many took advantage of the invitation to take part in the '8012,000 dinner dance paid for by the Coalici'f3n Canaria party that extra tables had to be set up just behind the TV cameras and in front of the toilets to accommodate them.
Four years ago only a matter of 600 or so came to this quadrennial mayorquote s bunfight, designed to stiffen the ranks of the faithful in readiness for the coming municipal elections.
But the more than doubling of numbers this year spoke volumes for the seriousness with which the looming elections are regarded.
It was the major opening salvo fired by the Coalici'f3n Canaria in the Battle for Britons '85 and just about any other nationality that might help the ruling party of Santiago del Teide to maintain its stranglehold.
It needed two buses to ferry just some of the estimated 200 Brits who took up the mayorquote s invitation to trek up from the touristy delights of Los Gigantes and Puerto Santiago to the slightly parky Tamaimo venue.
Constantly reminding themselves that foreigners eligible to vote next year form roughly 52 per cent of the constituency, all the political parties are girding themselves for a fight that might, just might, see the Coalici'f3n Canariaquote s massive majority toppled.
The Partido Popular had been first to recognise the rich harvest of foreignersquote  votes that might be gathered in, if only they could find the right message.
Unrepresented on the 17-member council, it was all of a year ago that they got behind the youthful Oliver Socas, a renegade CC councillor, son of the former and almost venerated mayor, Pancracio Socas, who had fallen out with the new leadership and quit.
They targeted the politically aware but largely apathetic British residents and swallows with a series of lquote letquote s get togetherquote  meetings that also welcomed the large Latin American immigrant community.
Then the socialist PSC-PSOE party roused itself under the leadership of Inocencio Doble Gonz'e1lez, lone opposition member on the heavily stacked CC council, to be quickly followed by the re-emergence of the more or less moribund Centro Canario Nacional under veteran political scrapper Antonio Sanchez.
They all preached the same line: ldblquote Letquote s get the foreigners to vote for usdblquote .
From the Olympian heights of the municipal seat of Santiago del Teide, the CC appeared to regard all that rushing around after the foreigners with disdain.
Then, quite suddenly last month, they wheeled out their secret weapon. Stephen McKenna, a 40-year-old Glaswegian, better known as Steve lquote Chicken Legsquote  Gerald, purveyor of spicy chicken and chips to eager residents and tourists in Puerto Santiago, would be their linkman to connect with the British voters.
More than that, he was placed seventh on the CCquote s list of candidates for the May election, virtually guaranteeing him a place on the council in what the party still believes will be its usual sweeping victory.
The Saturday night rally in Tamaimo was another forceful reminder that the CC was not about to give up power easily.
Big guns from the party in Santa Cruz were wheeled up to the front line to deliver rousing calls to action, which brought thunderous applause from the Canarians who had arrived from every corner of the municipality.
The invited Brits clapped, too, though most of them could have understood little of the language. Perhaps some thought the applause was for the waiters who were starting to bring out the food.
The best, of course, was saved to last, with Ricardo Melchior, the avuncular CC president of the island Cabildo, reminding his rapt audience that his party had always felt a strong affinity with the foreigners in their midst. His grandmother, in fact, was born in Aberdeen. He won a standing ovation.
In between, Steve Gerald, henceforth to be known as McKenna, somewhat nervously for a former radio DJ, took the microphone to point out to his British friends, in English and Spanish, that if they wanted to live here they should regard themselves as Canarians, integrating as deeply as he had in his 20 years here.
ldblquote If you go to live in Australia you become Australian,dblquote  he said. ldblquote Go to Canada and you become Canadian. So why not become Canarian if youquote re going to live here?dblquote
The Canarians in the audience loved him for it. So, it seemed, did the Britons, to judge by the applause.
It all provided food for thought to go alongside the food and mostly soft drink that was beginning to flow in abundance. It even carried over as a struggling conversation piece between locals and foreigners once a few tables had been cleared away to accommodate the dancing.
Through it all the mayor, normally a quiet and somewhat shy man, covered the length and breadth of the large pavilion, a little bemusedly pressing the flesh and being photographed with anyone who asked him. It was, after all, in his honour that the event was being staged.
But, after all the dancing and jollification of the Coalici'f3n Canariaquote s big night was done, two sobering realities remained.
Under Spanish electoral law, if you want to vote your name has to be on the electoral roll six months before the election. Any would-be but unenrolled voters had only until the end of the month to sign up.
Second, and a little crushingly, no matter how many Britons and other north Europeans will have bothered to get themselves on the electoral list, come next May half of them wonquote t be here.
Theyquote ll all have gone home to cut the grass.


What an excellent, entertaining, informative and astute commentary.

Reading between the lines, the message from the Mayor and Steve is that there will be no special measures to help foreign residents because they believe that foreign residents should integrate more and learn Spanish. When in Rome etc. This is a ldblquote do nothingdblquote  cheap policy.

If the other parties cannot find their own popular British candidates, the only alternative for them is to look seriously at policies.

One obvious area is the language issue.  If I was still advising Sebastian I would telling him to formulate policies relating to bilingual or multilingual communications, to facilitate better understanding and access by Brits to Council services. Here in Wales all literature is bilingual (including the Councilquote s website) and Council jobs which involve face to face contact with the public require job holders to be bilingual.

I am convinced that if Sebastian had proposed a Spanish/Welsh bilingual strategy, including free Welsh lessons for Spanish council employees and Councillors, he would have absolutely stunned the opposition. But, we will never know. What a missed opportunity.

We can all learn from other cultures, including the Welsh, as George Bush did prior to  invading Iraq.

Sorry Gigi

Offline linda

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I agree to many peole expect everone to speak english and dont bother a little effort can go a long way  asta manyana :)