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 September 2013

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Voting rights of migrants in Europe

  1. 1. Voting rights of migrants in Europe Kees Groenendijk Center for Migration Law Radboud University Nijmegen EESC hearing Brussels 4 September 2013
  2. 2. Three questions • Which European states grant voting rights to resident non-citizens? • Main arguments for and against? • Effects?
  3. 3. 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
  4. 4. 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
  5. 5. 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
  6. 6. 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
  7. 7. 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
  8. 8. 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
  9. 9. 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)
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. 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
  12. 12. 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
  13. 13. 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
  14. 14. 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