Right To Vote 7th September 2013
This week I chaired a delegation of Ex-Pat UK citizens seeking their right to vote in UK Parliamentary elections. The meeting, in Brussels, was led by 93-year old veteran of the Anzio landings Harry Shindler, now resident in Italy, and was attended by representatives from France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Belgium represented in addition to all three UK political parties. We met with (Vice President) Commissioner Reding, Mrs. Vivien Hoffman and Civil Servants.
"The Vice-president clearly recognises the political and legal obstacles to universal franchise presented by the need to respect subsidiarity in respect of national elections. She is, though, also very supportive of the position of those who believe that the right to vote is both a fundamental human right and an intrinsic part of the free movement of people, without loss of the right to vote in domestic elections, throughout the Member States of the European Union.
We impressed upon the Commissioner that this is not simply a "UK issue" as there are at least eight Member States that impose restrictions of some kind upon the ex-pat citizens' right to vote.
Given the Commissioner's support for this cause, which she regards as a priority, we shall, in addition to pursuing the cases already before the ECHR, seek to raise the profile of the right to vote within a European Parliament that has, to date, not debated the matter. There is also a case for making this a manifesto issue for the forthcoming European elections.
It remains incredible that there are, within the European Union, at least five million people who are denied the right to vote in their own countries in spite of the fact that very many of them pay taxes and even own homes in their country of nationality and that is a basic matter of democracy that has to be addressed. "