French government expat votes promise delayed for a year

Published:  22 May at 6 PM
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A promise to give migrants from outside the UK a chance to vote in French regional and local elections made during President Hollande’s presidential campaign has been relegated to late in 2014.

The reform was to be pushed through if François Hollande won the parliamentary election, and would have brought France in line with the majority of other EU member states. Today it was announced that the proposal will not be brought before the French parliament until after 2014’s municipal elections.

According to the president’s announcement, the delay was decided on as he did not want French nationals to think he was pushing the issue before the municipal polls took place. He added that, after the elections, the bill will be submitted for parliamentary scrutiny.

If the bill is passed, expats from outside the EU will have waited for the right to vote since the 1980’s when the idea was first introduced by Francois Mitterand. Expats from other EU member states have been allowed to vote in European and local elections since 1992, but constitutional changes are required to extend the franchise to non- EU state nationals.

Campaigns are also underway in support of expat voting in national elections, with British residents in the forefront for some years, as after 15 years’ foreign residency they lose the right to vote in the UK. They consider the move forces them to become disenfranchised on a national level as they are disallowed from voting both in their country of origin and in France.

However, there’s good news for non EU member expats living in France, as the current maximum three year long-stay visa is expected to be rolled out to four years. At present, incomers from the US, India, Australia, Canada and other non-EU countries are normally granted a one-year visa renewable annually until the three-year limit.
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