Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘EU citizens’

Last Chance for EU Citizens?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 17th April, 2018

EU citizens register to voteToday, Tuesday 17 April, is the last chance for people to register to vote in the local elections on 3 May, if they are not already on the electoral roll. This is particularly important for citizens of EU countries other than the UK, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta, as it is unlikely that they will retain their voting rights after Brexit, so this may be the last opportunity they have to make their voice heard. The franchise in all UK elections is currently given to all legally resident Commonwealth and Irish citizens, but other EU nationals don’t have the right to vote in the national parliament elections. However, everyone will lose their vote for the European elections, which are due in June next year, as the UK will no longer have the right to send MEPs to Brussels/Strasbourg. In London, which has all-out elections in all 32 boroughs, there are a large number of EU citizens; in some wards, one or two thousand, which means that their participation in next month’s elections could swing the result. That’s why a number of community NGOs, as well as several political parties, are urging them to register and to vote, to send a strong anti-Brexit message to 10 Downing Street (and to Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, for that matter). A strong performance by anti-Brexit parties, including the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, will help boost the campaign for a People’s Vote on the final deal agreed between the UK government and the EU. And as public dissatisfaction over looming Brexit realities (as opposed to Brexit fantasies) grows, there is even an outside chance we could pull back from the brink.

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Ireland Takes the Lead with EU Voters

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 19th April, 2008

The Republic of Ireland looks set to become the first EU member state to give a vote in its general elections to all legally resident EU citizens (with the proviso that they can speak English). This would be a milestone in the development of European citizenship, as well as a major advance for Eire, which currently doesn’t even allow EU citizens to vote in local elections (as they can in the UK and many other EU member states). Conor Lenihan, Ireland’s Minister for Integration, commented, ‘There can be nothing more powerful in integrating people than allowing them to make a political decision by using a vote to shape the state [they] are in.’ He might also have pointed out, on the old principle of No Taxation without Representation, that EU citizens who are taxpayers in Ireland deserve to have a say in how their money is spent as well.

I hope Britain will follow suit. The UK is already the most generous country in the EU to non-nationals, in the sense that it gives votes in general elections not only to Irish citizens (a historical quirk), but also to all resident Commonwealth citizens as well. It is logical that legally resident EU citizens — such as the French and Germans who are working hard in the City, or Polish builders who have settled in the UK — should be given the right as well. As Mr Lenihan implies, this would make them feel a greater sense of belonging to the society in which they are living and to which they are after all contributing. And it could give a beneficial impetus to our national politics as well.


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