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Voting Rights for Non-Belgian EU Nationals in Regional Elections

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Should the exercise of voting rights still be compulsory? Which language(s) should non-Belgian elected officials use when performing their official duties? – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Voting Rights for Non-Belgian EU Nationals in Regional Elections


1
Voting Rights for Non-Belgian EU Nationals in
Regional Elections
  • François Tulkens
  • Lecturer at FUSL
  • Lawyer (Avocat/ NautaDutilh)

2
Overview
  • I. The Belgian situation
  • II. Exercise of the right to vote and stand as a
    candidate in municipal elections
  • III. Legal possibilities to extend the right to
    vote to regional elections
  • IV. Related questions

3
I. The Belgian situation
  • Article 8 of the Belgian Constitution only
    Belgian citizens can vote in all elections.
  • Treaty of Maastricht(1992) establishment of
    European citizenship. Right to vote and stand as
    candidates in municipal elections (current Art.20
    TFUE).
  • Directive 94/80 implementing the Treaty list in
    annex of basic local government unit in each
    Member State (Belgium, France, the Netherlands
    commune/gemeente inclusion of cities but only in
    part, e.g. counties or London boroughs in the UK
    Bezirk in der Freien und Hansestadt und im Land
    Berlin).

4
I. The Belgian situation
  • Revision of Article 8 of the Constitution in
    1995, to transpose Directive 94/80 into national
    law (in accordance with the international and
    supranational obligations of Belgium)
  • Another revision in 1998 to grant non-EU
    nationals the right to vote in local elections.
    No effect before 2001.
  • In practice
  • 2000 Belgian municipal elections opened to other
    EU (but not non-EU) nationals - right to vote and
    stand for the municipal council
  • 2006 Belgian municipal elections opened to EU and
    non-EU nationals right to vote and stand for the
    municipal executive body (college du bourgmestre
    et des echevins) but no possibility to be elected
    or appointed mayor (bourgmestre)
  • next municipal elections to be held in 2012.

5
I. The Belgian situation
  • Formalities
  • Submission of a written request to the
    municipality to be registered as a voter
  • No mandatory residence period
  • If registered as a voter, exercise of the right
    to vote is compulsory.

6
II. Exercise of voting rights by non-Belgian EU
nationals
  • Figures for 2006
  • Non-Belgian EU nationals /-170,000 in Brussels
  • 18,682 non-Belgian EU nationals registered to
    vote in the 19 municipalities (compared to 6,622
    non-EU voters and 566,718 Belgian voters) in
    certain municipalities, 10 to 22 of the
    registered voters were non-Belgian EU nationals.
  • 156 candidates, ranging from 1 (Berchem) to 26
    (Ixelles) per municipality

7
III. Legal possibilities to extend the right to
vote to regional elections
  • A. At the European level (without the revision of
    the Belgian constitution, by creating new
    international or supranational obligations)
  • Art. 25(2) TFUE the Council, acting unanimously
    and with the consent of the EP, can strengthen or
    add to the rights of citizenship (with the
    approval of the Member States).
  • Amend the annex to Directive 94/80 to indicate a
    new Belgian basic government unit, namely the
    region.
  • Problems Distortion of the basic local
    government unit? Reaction of other Member
    States? Exception for Brussels? Internal
    difficulties due to the potential contradiction
    between a full-fledged region in Belgium but a
    basic local government unit at the European
    level.
  • Amend the European treaties

8
III. Extension of voting rights
  • B. Constitutional route
  • Amend Article 8 of the Constitution to extend
    the right to vote of non-Belgian EU nationals to
    regional elections
  • MR has submitted a resolution to this end to the
    Brussels Parliament given that
  • The population of non-Belgian EU nationals is
    growing (almost 200,000)
  • This population is not represented at all at the
    regional level in Belgium
  • Brussels is the capital of Europe.
  • The federal government has been asked to address
    this issue.

9
IV. Related questions
  • Should this issue remain a federal matter (with
    the advantage ofuniformity) or allocated to the
    Regions (allowing different choices from region
    to region)?
  • Should the exercise of voting rights still be
    compulsory?
  • Which language(s) should non-Belgian elected
    officials use when performing their official
    duties?
  • Is there discrimination against non-EU nationals?
  • Etc.
  • These political and civic questions will require
    non-legal answers.
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