Harry Shindler takes Voting Rights Campaign to European Commission in Brussels

Here’s veteran British voting rights campaigner Harry Shindler being received in Brussels on 5th September, 2013 by Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.

http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/photo/photoDetails.cfm?sitelang=en&ref=023878#0

Margaret Hales who attended today’s meeting has provided the first summary report below on behalf of the representative group:

A representative group from across Europe gathered together today at the European Commission in Brussels and was led by Harry Shindler, who is about to take his case to appeal before the Grand Chamber of the EHRC.   The group came to press the Commission to take further action to enable EU citizens living in another EU country to ensure the right to vote in national elections of their country of origin. Currently British citizens who have lived abroad for more than 15 years have their vote taken away by the British government.

Mr Shindler 93 who came from Italy especially to meet Vice President Viviane Reding said after the meeting :

“This is the first time ever that expats have come together in an organised way to make their case to the Commission. I welcome support given by the Commission and with support- and our own activity- we will win the democratic right owed to us to vote in the UK. I hope that this whole matter can be concluded by May 2014 so we can celebrate VE day for British expats”.

Mrs Reding insisted that the practice in some Member States of depriving their citizens of their right to vote once they moved to another EU country- disenfranchisement- is effectively tantamount to punishing citizens for having exercised their right to free movement.

The meeting, chaired by Sir Roger Gale, was forthright about the difficulties. Sir Roger said he was delighted that the Commissioner was able to meet the group:

” There is no doubt in my mind that the Commissioner and her officials are completely supportive of the principle that lies behind an individual’s right to vote in their own country in perpetuity”.

Sir Roger concluded that:

It is vitally important for every expat citizen from the UK who has the right to vote, registers and uses that right [see the Electoral Commission website www.aboutmyvote.co.uk]. It’s no good complaining about UK government decisions that affect the livelihoods of the expat communities if those who CAN don’t use that opportunity to vote.”

Margaret Hales (on behalf of the group).

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6 Responses to Harry Shindler takes Voting Rights Campaign to European Commission in Brussels

  1. Pingback: Calling British Citizens in Poland! | Votes for Expat Brits blog

  2. PW says:

    There is an issue of fairness to those who live in the UK. If you have chosen to live abroad for that long, why should you be allowed to influence the election of a government that you do not have to live under. The answer is simple. Applied to become a naturalised citizen of the country you are living in and vote there.

    • right2vote4xpatbrits says:

      You make a fair point and your simple answer could be applied to those British expatriates who would wish to change their nationality and eg intend to never return to the UK. Others of course can move on from country to country and so which nationality should they choose? The issue is not that simple when you also consider that eg an estimated 1 million non-British national, Commonwealth citizens currently resident in the UK, under current election law and presumably because they also pay UK taxes, will be able to vote in the 2015 general election. Contrast this with the situation of British expats after 15 years abroad who hold British passports and continue to pay income taxes eg on their public service pensions or local council tax on the UK properties they still own, but have no right to vote there. Consider also those British expats who are currently benefiting from freedom of movement within the EU but after 15 years away will not be able to vote in a UK referendum on continuing membership of the EU.

      Administrator,
      http://www.votes-for-expat-brits.com

  3. Pingback: Opportunity for Voting Rights Question in EC “Citizens’ Dialogue in Marseille” | Votes for Expat Brits blog

  4. Michael Cushing says:

    THANK YOU all of you who has supported / taken action on this issue . I DID APPLY AND WAS REFUSED MY RIGHT TO BE INCLUDED IN THE OVERSEAS VOTING ROLL at my last Electoral Registration office UK .( my request / refusal was dealt with by Electoral Reg. officers and I hve no issue with them ) My request was on the basis that the POLITICAL PARTIES ACT ( all UK jurisdictions ) 2000 HAS NO MENTION OF A REDUCTION / AMENDMENT 20 to15 years before refusal can be granted ) THE IRRELEVENT ACT : Political Parties Elections, Referendums 2000ACT ( all UK Jurisdictions ) PART X – MISCELLANEOUS / GENERAL page 141 of 150 ” amend 20 to 15 years ” THATS IT – WHY NOT put this in a Road Traffic Act or similar . What is the point of law of naming ACTS if their meaning/ title is something different . A CITIZEN HAS A RIGHT TO REPRESENTATION ( UN / ECHR ) LOSS OF RIGHT TO REPRESENTATION = LOSS OF IDENTITY . For democratic purposes discussions re residency / tax etc come AFTER ONES HUMAN RIGHT TO REPRESENTATION . Many wont like this what is the difference between a Government that decides to send troops to attack its citizens and a government that DISENFRANCHISES its citizens

    • Michael Cushing says:

      My comment 6 9 13 0311am amend line 5 : political parties act all jurisdiction 2000 to REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLES ACT ( all jurisdictions) 2000

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