Just 89 non-EU expats are enrolled to vote

7th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

7 April 2006, BRUSSELS — Four months before electoral rolls are closed, just 89 non-EU nationals have registered to vote in Belgium's October local council elections.

7 April 2006

BRUSSELS — Four months before electoral rolls are closed, just 89 non-EU nationals have registered to vote in Belgium's October local council elections.

Just six non-EU nationals have registered to vote in Brussels, 14 in Flanders and 69 in Wallonia, newspaper 'De Standaard' reported on Friday.

EU and non-EU nationals living in Belgium who wish to vote in the local elections must register by 31 July. It is the first time that non-EU nationals will be allowed to vote in Belgium.

To be eligible to vote, non-EU immigrants must have lived in Belgium for five years and need to sign an agreement promising to respect Belgian law.

Adding Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia together, there are 115,000 eligible non-EU voters.

But the initial registration drive has met with little success. In Brussels, just six voters or 0.01 percent of the 44,030 immigrants living there have registered to vote.

In Flanders, 14 non EU nationals have registered, accounting for 0.12 percent of the 43,883 non-EU nationals in Flanders.

The situation is slightly better in Wallonia, where the 69 registered voters represents 3.5 percent of the non-EU community living there.

The Regional Integration Centre Foyer in Brussels is not concerned however, stressing that the information campaign has not yet to kick off.

Some 20,000 brochures are to be distributed and centre officials will visit markets and community centres to spread the word.

The centre is confident that a greater percentage of non-EU nationals than EU nationals will vote at the local elections.

But this may be easy to achieve, given the fact that the number of EU nationals who voted at the European elections in 2004 was under 10 percent.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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