Vote near for non-EU expats
19 November 2003, BRUSSELS – Expats in Belgium who are from countries outside the EU were close Wednesday to gaining the right to vote in local elections after a select senate committee approved the idea.
19 November 2003
BRUSSELS – Expats in Belgium who are from countries outside the EU were close Wednesday to gaining the right to vote in local elections after a select senate committee approved the idea.
The senate home affairs committee adopted the legislative proposal that non-EU nationals who had lived in Belgium for at least five years should be able to vote in local council elections, although they will not have the right to be an elected representative themselves.
Under the proposal, non-EU citizens will have to register to vote and sign an oath of allegiance to the Belgian constitution.
The committee's decision means that the draft legislation will now be put to a full vote in the senate and the national parliament when it could become law if approved.
The law, if passed, would affect some 150,000 non-EU citizens resident in Belgium.
The proposed legislation is supported by all the French-speaking - Wallon – political parties, along with the Flemish Socilaist party and its regional allies, but is opposed by the Flemish christian democrats and extreme-right Vlaams Blok.
A spokesman for the Federation of Moroccan Associations in Belgium said he thought many non-EU residents will not register because of the administrative complications that could arise.
He said asking non-EU voters to sign a declaration that they will respect the Belgian constitution was insulting.
Subject: Belgian news