Petition launched for full EU voting rights in local elections
A petition was launched calling on the European Commission to give all EU citizens full voting rights, so that they can vote in the national elections of the Member State they live in. "We demand the EU to remove a stain on European democracy and empower European citizenship, by implementing full political rights for all EU citizens," the initiators, the ECIT Foundation, wrote.
The initiators aim to get 1 million signatures, with which they can force the European Commission to at least look at their proposals. They want EU citizens to be automatically recognized as voters in the Member State they live in, and for obstacles to be removed for voting in elections abroad.
EU citizens must be able to chose to vote in the country of their residence or in their country of origins for all elections and referenda, according to the initiators, and it must be easy for them to do so. The ECIT Foundation therefore also wants a helpline to be established, where European citizens can get information about their political rights.
In the Netherlands, everyone who has lived in the country for more than five years can vote in the local elections. EU nationals living in the Netherlands can also vote in the European elections. But only Dutch nationals can vote in the parliamentary- and provincial elections.
About 13.5 million Netherlands residents were eligible to vote in the European Parliament elections last year. 3.6 percent of this group were EU citizens, but not Dutch nationals. That is about 500 thousand people, according to figures from Statistics Netherlands at the time.
In the run-up to the European Parliament elections, D66 parliamentarian Monica den Boer called on municipalities to make an concerted effort to get non-Dutch EU citizens to the polls. She worried that this group of voters is often "forgotten or overshadowed," or may not be able to understand election information published in the Dutch language.