Voting rights for non-EU citizens?

The right to vote is currently under discussion in several European countries: in Austria, voting rights in October's presidential elections for residents without citizenship are on the table. In France, the National Assembly is discussing a proposal to give non-EU citizens the right to vote in local elections. Meanwhile, in Estonia there is a push to restrict voting rights.

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Der Standard (AT) /

Voting is a basic right

Austria's electoral law needs a complete overhaul, Der Standard insists:

“More and more people in this country are being denied a basic political right. ... Those who want to vote at any cost can acquire Austrian citizenship, people are often told. That is cynical: the citizenship law in this country is among the most restrictive and inflexible that exist. But people have become more mobile, society more diverse. ... If someone lives here for a longer period of time, they should be able to take part in deciding who gets to decide about them - at all levels of politics.”

Heute (AT) /

Don't just give away right to vote

Clemens Oistric, online editor of the daily Heute, sees no need for change:

“The right to vote and our citizenship are too valuable to give them away to anyone who has found their way to the registration office. With good reason, there are clear conditions for acquiring the red-white-red passport. These include a clean criminal record, adequate knowledge of German, a secure livelihood and no close ties to extremist or terrorist groups. ... Austria is not alone with its clear approach. New Zealand, Canada, the US, Switzerland - all are established democracies with consistently restrictive regulations.”

L'Opinion (FR) /

A half-baked plan

Sacha Houlié of Macron's Renaissance party has introduced a bill in the French National Assembly on voting rights for non-EU citizens in local elections. L'Opinion is surprised:

“Sacha Houlié sees granting voting rights to foreigners as a way to 'enrich France's integration model'. One can make this argument, but then it must be ensured that no national lists are created - such as those we saw in the last European and local elections. Moreover, he wants to put an end to 'discrimination between two categories of foreigners': EU citizens and non-EU citizens. ... Strange that the member of a clearly pro-European party wants to abolish this distinction without prior debate.”

Postimees (EE) /

Times have changed

In Estonia, by contrast, there is a discussion about abolishing the right to vote in local elections for non-EU citizens. Constitutional lawyer Paloma Krõõt Tupay explains in Postimees:

“Back then, the mothers and fathers of the constitution decided to introduce the right to vote for foreigners. The situation has changed since then, and the number of people living in Estonia who hold Russian passports or are stateless has dropped significantly. The rights and freedoms that the constitution grants to the individual must not be interpreted more narrowly than the constitution itself foresees. ... This means that this amendment to Estonian law would require an amendment to the constitution. This is not forbidden or bad; it is simply complicated.”