Expat descendent of Emily Pankhurst fights for expat voting rights

Published:  19 Jul at 6 PM
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A cousin of the great-granddaughter of Suffragette leader Emily Pankhurst is taking up the cudgel on behalf of Brit expats who lose the right to vote after 15 years overseas.

Almost 100 years after the Suffragette movement, led by Emily Pankhurst, won the right to vote for all British women, Margaret Hales, a distant relative of the great woman, is fighting for the expat right to vote. As the present law stands, expats who’ve spent over 15 years overseas are summarily disenfranchised.

Ms Hales moved to Spain with her husband after their retirement seven years ago, and will lose their right to vote in any UK general election after eight more years. Whilst in the UK, she was active in local and regional politics as well as working as an NHS non-executive chairperson.

Awarded an MBE for her services to the country in 1997, she has turned her talents to raising awareness about the voting registration process amongst Brits living in Spain. Her letter on the issue, sent to deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, was read to the House during a parliamentary debate on the subject.

Hales states that the disenfranchisement issue is a well-kept secret not referred to on any British Government webpage. Most expats had no idea when they moved abroad that they would eventually have no part in the democratic process, she added.

Earlier this year, she continued, the Vice President of the European Commission reported that maintaining voting rights in national elections is an essential right. Disenfranchising citizens once they have moved overseas, she said, is tantamount to punishment for the use of the human right to free movement.
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