There are quite a few of us

In today’s Wall Street Journal Europe, Gareth Harding does a nice job describing the frustration of a UK citizen who has lost the right to vote as a result of long-term residency outside the UK — a feature that only dates from 2002 legislation.  It’s little consolation, but the Irish voting regimen for its many emigrants is even harsher, with voting eligibility gone as soon as you’re off the register in your former home county, and that happens once you no longer live there.   As Harding points out, the situation leaves emigrants without a vote in either their country of citizenship or residence.  Of course the counterarguments are well known, ultimately relating to whether someone living abroad is truly a participant in domestic politics.  It certainly tests the notion of what the European Union is supposed to mean to the citizens of its member countries.

6 thoughts on “There are quite a few of us

  1. “Of course the counterarguments are well known, ultimately relating to whether someone living abroad is truly a participant in domestic politics.”

    I am wrestling with this question too as a Dutchman living abroad. However, it does not seem right to exclude people living abroad from an important part of the democratic process. You cannot change the world much voting for your local mayor or the European Parliament with its limited powers.

    I must add that The Netherlands are experimenting with online voting for expats. I have already put myself on the list and I hope they’ll see this through.

    Maybe I should do a post about this…

  2. I wouldn’t mind losing voting rights in my native countries after an extended period of absence *if* I had full voting rights in my country of residence. Btw, my local mayor is boss over Greater London, I submit those elections do make a significant difference. 🙂

    I used Internet voting in the 2006 elections. While not entirely sanguine about the security of voting machines, I picked this option because you could later receive a code to double-check your vote with.

  3. “Btw, my local mayor is boss over Greater London, I submit those elections do make a significant difference”

    Damned diversity! I was writing from my own perspective, of course, living in a village of… 2,000 🙂

    I voted in March this year. To add insult to injury, there was only one candidate to vote for.

  4. Hehe, I did take your point. Not everyone lives in London, though it does feel like it at times! I was rather amused and bemused at finding I was going to vote for a mayor of a city of 7.5 million people, compared to NZ’s parliamentary elections later this year which will cover a mere 4 million inhabitants.

    Having one mayoral candidate is appalling. It must’ve taken all the shine off the novelty of getting to vote for a mayor.

  5. Well, I’m not paying Irish taxes, I’m okay with having limited participation in its political system given that.

    I am paying German taxes, though, and I like the country and care about what happens to it. I would like to be able to vote in parliamentary elections here, as an EU citizen and as a resident. Though I suppose if that possibility ever comes up the Spanish will argue it down out of trepidation at how all the Brits and German retirees along the Costa Blanca will vote.

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