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NEWS: Madrid votes on water privatization in popular referendum

The Associated Press reports, “Residents of the Spanish capital are taking part in a non-binding protest referendum to express disagreement with regional government plans to privatize publicly owned water supplies. The centre-right Popular Party is committed to selling off 49 per cent of the network to Madrid and some of its suburbs in a bid to reduce debt. Two protest groups on Sunday set up 236 makeshift polling stations throughout the central Spanish region asking registered residents to respond ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the question: ‘Do you think the Isabel II Canal (the water company’s name) should remain 100 per cent public?’ By mid-afternoon, there were lines at many booths in central Madrid.”

Reuters adds (in Spanish), “The non-binding social consultation was organized by the Platform Against Privatization of Canal de Isabel II, which has been joined by neighborhood popular assemblies, neighborhood associations, political parties and trade unions. …As quoted by EFETV, many citizens fear that the privatization of 49 percent of Canal de Isabel II produces a rise in the water and lower quality. …The results will be announced at 11.00 pm tomorrow at a press conference called by the Platform organizer at the offices of the Regional Federation of Neighbourhood Associations of Madrid.”

And a Lainfomacion article (in Spanish) notes, “Official data from the Social Consultation for Water will be available in the web www.porelagua.es.”

Europa Press also highlights (in Spanish) that, “The promoters (of the protest referendum) also want to gather 500,000 signatures required to submit a Popular Legislative Initiative (ILP) to the Assembly of Madrid requiring a discussion and vote on the possible privatization in the regional parliament.”

Challenging the World Water Forum
The Council of Canadians/ Blue Planet Project will be meeting with water justice activists from Spain and around the world this coming week at the Forum Alternative Mondial de l’Eau (the alternative world water forum) in Marseille, France. The forum is being organized to promote the implementation of the human right to water and sanitation and to challenge the privatization agenda of the corporate-led World Water Forum.

Council of Canadians/ Blue Planet Project water campaigner Meera Karunananthan and Mexico City-based Blue Planet Project organizer Claudia Campero Arena were in Barcelona, Spain this past January to plan for this intervention. Their blogs on this can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=13015 and http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12998.

The Blue Planet Project and Public Services International Research Unit will also be releasing in Marseille a new report titled, ‘Right to Water for All: Case Studies on Austerity and Privatization in Europe‘ that includes case studies from Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Bulgaria.

More on this upcoming intervention at www.canadians.org/wwf.