Support “Let Me Vote”, the ECI to give EU citizens full voting rights!
Democracy International supports the European Citizens’ Initiative “Let me vote!” and therefore calls upon every EU citizen to sign the initiative. Like Democracy International, Let me vote! pursues the goal of accomplishing democracy in the EU by removing the democratic deficit. For this to happen, equal, fair and inclusive electoral rights are a central tool.
Vincent Mabillard, project coordinator of the ECI Let me vote!, outlines the aims of and issues around the European Citizens’ Initiative.
Today, many European citizens are partially deprived of political rights. Although they legitimately take advantage of the right of free movement, some of them cannot participate in regional and national elections in their country of residence. Due to different legislation, decided by each country separately, some people are even excluded from the electorate in their country of origin. Therefore, they lose their rights to vote in national elections in both their new country of residence and the state of which they are nationals.
Take the example of Heidi: she is Danish, has lived in London for many years, is married to a British citizen and has two children. Nevertheless, she has no right to take part in legislative elections in the UK. Even worse: according to Danish law, she has lost her right to vote in her country of origin as well! Danes living overseas like Heidi are not alone. All British citizens who have spent more than 15 years outside of the UK are also affected by this loss of voting rights, referred to technically as “disenfranchisement”. Other restrictions apply to the cases of Cyprus, Germany, Malta and Ireland. It seems difficult for the European Commission to solve this problem of democratic deficit, as Member states remain competent regarding nationalisation processes and measures related to voting rights at the national level.
How can citizens react to this issue, especially during this “European Year of the Citizens”? Since April 2012, they have acquired the right to submit a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) to the European Commission. In order to succeed, the committee of citizens, which launches the initiative, needs to collect one million signatures throughout the EU with minimum thresholds in seven of them.
Européens sans frontières (Europeans without borders), a non-for-profit, apolitical association, is behind the initiative, Let Me Vote! with the following main goal: to make the right to move freely and all other fundamental rights work together in harmony. The ECI Let Me Vote! aims to reduce the afore-mentioned democratic deficit as it calls upon the European institutions, especially the Commission and the Parliament, to extend existing political rights in the State of residence. Let Me Vote! wants to enable mobile EU citizens not only to take part in local and European elections, but also in regional and national elections. This opportunity is included in the Treaties (Art. 25 TFEU). Therefore, it seems accessible and realistic to say that this ECI, if successful, will bring about change and helps to build a stronger European citizenship.
Access www.letmevote.eu to sign the initiative and for more information.