20 February 2004
BRUSSELS – Expats living in Belgium have been given the right to vote in the country’s local elections, whatever their nationality, in a new law approved by the Belgian Parliament early on Friday morning.
Under the new rules non-European Union foreigners living in Belgium will be eligible to vote in the country’s municipal elections.
However, certain conditions are attached to the new voting rights.
Non-EU foreigners must have been living in Belgium for at least five years before becoming entitled to vote.
Any foreigner who wants to take advantage of the new legislation must also sign an oath of allegiance to the Belgian constitution, formally agree to respect the country’s laws and sign the European Convention on Human rights.
Also, non-EU foreigners will not be able to stand as candidates in local elections.
Expats who have moved to Belgium from other European Union countries already have the right to vote in local, regional and European elections here.
The Belgian Parliament’s approval of the new voting law, marks the end of a long and often bitter debate that once again saw the country divided along linguistic lines.
The country’s French speaking political parties carried the vote.
Only one party from Dutch-speaking Flanders – the minority Flemish Socialist Party (SP.A) – voted in favour of the planned new rules.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Belgian news