MEPs urged to pressure EC on expat voting rights

Published:  2 Oct at 6 PM
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A campaign in favour of expat voting rights backed by members of the European parliament is to be debated in Strasbourg later this week.

British citizens who’ve lived overseas for more than 15 years have been deprived of their right to vote both in UK elections and referendums, a law which is being described by those affected as unconstitutional at best and criminal at worst, as it’s based on the belief that long-term expatriates are not affected by their country of origin’s political decisions. Similar restrictions apply to expat citizens of other EU member states, and have been the subject of a number of petitions.

MEP Cecelia Wikstrom believes depriving or limiting EU expats’ right to vote is an infringement of the EU laws on freedom of movement, as voting as a fundamental right of all citizens is based on constitutional rights and traditions common to all EU member states. Wikstrom has received countless emails and letters from disenfranchised Europeans and is concerned about the upcoming European Union elections set to take place in May 2019. As a result, she is attempting to force a debate as to whether the rule is an infringement of EU law.

Should she be successful, it’s believed the result could open the door to full participation by long-stay Britons in Europe in any vote on a Brexit deal or in a second referendum. In addition to British expats’ exclusion from voting in the Brexit referendum, Wikstrom also has Portugal and Spain in her sights as there are little or no facilities to enable votes from overseas. She says the situation in both countries is a hindrance to expats attempting to exercise their rights to vote. In the case of the British expat vote in the Brexit referendum, even those unaffected by the disenfranchisement issue experienced huge difficulties, with many not receiving the paperwork until after the referendum took place.
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