excavator shovelAngry expats in Spain hope to pit the country’s political parties against each other in an attempt to save their homes from demolition.

Protest group AUAN wants to put pressure on politicians in Andalucia by recruiting thousands of supporters in a voter registration drive. It aims to stop the junta regional government knocking down illegally-built houses owned by foreign residents.

“There are elections in May 2011 and we want to turn this into a do-or-die issue for the government by registering people to vote,” AUAN’s president, Maura Hillen, told OPP.

“There is some recognition by the opposition parties of the damage this is doing to the construction industry but the government shows no evidence of budging an inch. One of our objectives is to politicise the issue and to make it a problem for political parties in local towns so that it filters back up to the junta.”

More demolitions

Spain’s image as an overseas property destination has been hit repeatedly in the last few years by government attempts to counter widespread illegal building along the coast.

Five foreign residents living in Albox were handed demolition orders last week. Eight more from the town await a court hearing – despite hundreds of Malaga expats demonstrating in support for them last month.

Hillen said many more people could be persuaded to join the cause and AUAN is teaming up with similar groups such as SOHA in Axarquia to build support.

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” she said. “There are currently 300 households in our group but we estimate this affects around 5,000 in the area, so there could be a lot more publicity.

“The biggest problem we have within the expat community is apathy. Few people have yet woken up to the fact that this is a problem for them but the truth will out in time.”

The problem isn’t likely to disappear soon, she added. “The junta wants to solve this on a case-by-case basis and God knows how long it will take through the courts. It’s taken seven years to decide they are illegal and it could be several more before a decision is made on the demolitions.”

By Stephen Harris of

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