Voting rights of migrants in Europe
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Voting rights of migrants in Europe

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Presentation by Prof. Kees Groenendijk (Centre for Migration Law, University of Nijmegen) on the occasion of the EESC hearing on 'A more inclusive citizenship open to immigrants' - Brussels, 4 ...

Presentation by Prof. Kees Groenendijk (Centre for Migration Law, University of Nijmegen) on the occasion of the EESC hearing on 'A more inclusive citizenship open to immigrants' - Brussels, 4 September 2013

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    Voting rights of migrants in Europe Voting rights of migrants in Europe Presentation Transcript

    • Voting rights of migrants in Europe Kees Groenendijk Center for Migration Law Radboud University Nijmegen EESC hearing Brussels 4 September 2013
    • Three questions • Which European states grant voting rights to resident non-citizens? • Main arguments for and against? • Effects?
    • Voting rights for migrants • Voting rights (active and passive) are essential political rights, but there are many other political rights • Migrants: Union citizens in other Member States  Third country nationals
    • Other political rights • • • • • • • • Freedom of expression Freedom of association: party, trade union Right to form a political party Right to be member of political party Right to demonstrate Right to strike Right to be member of workers council Right to work in public service
    • Gradual extension after 1960 • Until 1960s: expression of political views = violation public order => expulsion • Article 16 ECHR (1950)! • Gradually more political rights granted to resident non-citizens • Union citizens in other Member States more voting rights than third-country nationals
    • Union citizens in other MS • Right to vote in municipal elections Article 22(1) TFEU; Article 40 EU Charter • Maastricht Treaty 1992; several MS had to amend their Constitution • Directive 94/80: implementation > 10 yrs • Right to vote in election Eur Parliament Article 22(2) TFEU; Article 39 EU Charter • Directive 93/109: implementation in 1994
    • Remaining problems • Migrant Union citizens have no right to vote in national elections in other MS • No EU competence in Treaties; pending European citizens intitiative “Let me vote” deadline January 2014; chance success? • Practical problems with exercising voting rights (requirement to register) • Exclusion from other political rights
    • Third-country nationals • No voting rights for TCN in Union law; no EU competence in Treaties • Some political rights granted in Directive 2003/109 and in Association EEC-Turkey • In international law voting rights only for citizens (ECHR and ICCPR); exception CoE convention 1992; only 8 ratifications • Depends on national law Member States
    • Present situation in Europe • Local voting rights for TCN in 17 of 29 states: BE, DK, ES, FI, HU, IR, LT, LU, NL, PR, SK, SL, SP, SW, UK + NO, CH (in 5 states active voting rights only) • 12 of 29 states non-national residents no voting rights: AU, BU, CY, CZ, FR, GE, GR, IT, LV, MT, PL and RO • (in CZ, IT, MA possibility present in law)
    • Five arguments pro • No taxation without representation • Unequal treatment only on basis nationality hard to justify after long lawful residence • Symbolic message long-term residents will stay and are entitled to equal treatment • Stimulates political participation and integration • Pathway to citizenship stimulates naturalisation
    • Five arguments contra • • • • Voting is privilege linked to nationality Fear for influence of foreign governments Fear for ethnic political parties Immigrants should not disturb power relations between political parties • Granting voting rights will reduce immigrants’ interest in naturalisation
    • Empirical data on effects • No country has abolished voting rights for non-nationals (DPP in DK no success) • In several states large scale naturalisation after granting voting rights (NL, SW, BE) • Ethnic parties unattractive for immigrants • Foreign influence: exceptional incidents • Voting pattern immigrants over time more similar with rest of population
    • Political choice • Mainly emotional and ideological costs • Few financial costs involved • Open or closed idea of population and democracy: BVerfG 1990 German people versus ECJ 200? ‘Peoples of Europe’ • Integration and naturalisation tests will restrict participation in political life to better educated immigrants - on purpose or not
    • Recommendations • Encourage informal or open consultation by Member States on this issue and on access to nationality • Avoid contraproductive requirements: registration, reciprocity, language tests • EC should monitor access of EU migrants to other politicial rights • Encourage ratification of 1992 Council of Europe convention