Swinney defends referendum EU voters

Published:  6 Feb at 6 PM
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Finance Secretary John Swinney has backed plans to allow EU nationals residing in Scotland to vote in the country’s independence referendum, reports the BBC.

Mr Swinney revealed the same rules that applied to the previous Scottish Parliament election were set to be used. This would mean that roughly 60,000 EU nationals currently living in Scotland would have the right to vote. However, hundreds of thousands of Scottish people who live outside the country would not be eligible to vote.

The government of Scotland has started an independence referendum consultation with the view of the country becoming independent in autumn 2014. They have worked out that under the proposed rules 3.99 million people would currently be eligible to vote, while the SNP also wants to extend this to roughly 125,000 16 and 17 year olds.

But some politicians have stated that the Westminster elections should be used as the model for the referendum. UK citizens living abroad can vote in British parliamentary elections for as long as 15 years in the constituency which they were registered prior to leaving the UK.

Mr Swinney was asked on the Sunday Politics show on the BBC if it was reasonable to permit EU nationals to vote when there were 750,000 Scots living in England who would not be eligible to cast their votes in the referendum.

He responded by saying that it was an important issue, but they have taken essentially the same route as when the Scottish Parliament was elected in May last year, pointing out that many of the EU nationals have lived in Scotland for decades and create wealth and opportunities in the country which has become their home.
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