Poles to the polls

Since the last assembly election a new wave of immigrants has arrived in Wales following the expansion of the European Union. But it seems that neither they nor Welsh politicians are precisely clear about their voting rights.

I've heard AMs assert that they need to have lived in this country for a year before they vote. Meanwhile, the immigrants themselves tend not to know that Wales has a government, let alone that their votes might influence who runs it.

The simple fact is that EU citizens need only be resident in Wales in order to vote in the assembly elections. In the case of Polish people in particular, that means thousands of potential voters who weren't around in 2003. No wonder the Lib Dems are putting out Polish leaflets in Wrexham, as are Plaid in Llanelli.

The Poles are, in fact, a politician's dream. They are blank canvasses, completely without the decades of enculturation and prejudice that informs most voters. And they are willing to be persuaded. The Poles I've met are keen to hear the arguments and register to vote.

It should be the Tories who benefit most from these new constituents. Indeed, the Polish people seemed so keen on right-wing populism that they voted for it twice. What's certain, though, is that there are votes to be won. Powodzenia!

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posted by Blamerbell @ 9:38 am,

6 Comments:

At 11:54 am, Blogger sanddef said...

Apart from possibly the Polish community in Wrexham, with whom John Marek has been working extensively, I suspect that the majority of my cousins (Im quarter Pole myself) will show no interest whatsoever in the elections. For them, Wales (or any other part of the UK) is but a temporary workplace.

 
At 2:29 pm, Blogger Mike Cridland said...

Sanddef. So there is no interest in Plaid Cymru in Polish votes?

 
At 3:06 pm, Blogger sanddef said...

Sanddef. So there is no interest in Plaid Cymru in Polish votes

How the hell would I know? I'm neither a member of Plaid Cymru nor a Pole.

 
At 5:12 pm, Blogger Glyn Davies AM said...

Many of the Poles who have come here to work will settle down and stay - and I suspect many of them will value democracy more than UK residents, who take it for granted.

 
At 5:41 pm, Blogger sanddef said...

Many of the Poles who have come here to work will settle down and stay - and I suspect many of them will value democracy more than UK residents, who take it for granted.

A romantic view, considering that a large proportion of them have no personal adult experience of Communism or of being deprived of democracy. As for settling down, it makes no economic sense in the long run, as they will be able to invest their earnings better back home and get more for their money than here. A new generation of Polish economists are already making their mark as Wizz Kids in the EU, and I fully expect Poland to be the place to be investment wise in the next 8 years. Remember Manuel from Faulty Towers, when Spaniards were everywhere in the EU looking for work? Well they didn't stay, they took their earnings back home and opened up their own businesses, as will the Poles.

 
At 7:01 pm, Blogger Mike Cridland said...

"How the hell would I know? I'm neither a member of Plaid Cymru nor a Pole."

I stand corrected. You are a Plaid Cymru supporter, and a bit odf a Pole!!

 

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