Friday, 22 May 2015

Voting in General Elections and Nation State Citizenship Statuses in the EU

The opening of the UK labour market to any EU citizen (indeed the opening of settlement rights to any EU citizen) has expanded greatly the presence of  people working in unskilled categories D, E or not working at all. It is these categories that slipped most in the Labour vote,  though C2s disappeared too. 

Much hand-wringing has gone on in Labour discussions of why-we-lost about the turning away of the WWC vote. It is worth noting that voting rights in a UK general election are not conferred by EU citizenship and that there are reservations by many EU nation states on their citizens holding the citizenships of other nation states without losing their own (though not on their EU citizenship statuses).

Lots of potentially Labour voters cannot vote in a general election in the UK in spite of Labour's brechtian efforts in dissolving the people.  Labour needs to  sort that and get all those C2,D,Es on the register asap.  Unfortunately (for Labour) doing so would open voter registration in the UK to further unwanted scrutiny and might even lead to a European-wide standard for electoral registration that would take more from Labour than it gives.

Identity cards would make an unwelcome policy return as well.


Raedwald said...

The UK is perhaps different to most other EU nations in that the right of voting in *national* votes is withheld from EU citizens but granted to all Commonwealth citizens resident here. It's reciprocal - any Brit expats in Lagos can vote in the Nigerian national elections and so on.

I presume Commonwealth citizens will similarly be eligible to vote in the Referendum ...

hatfield girl said...

I don't have a full grip on this, R. It's extremely legal and intertwined with all sorts of other national, international and EU statuses, differing state by state. Also there are a lot of very recent changes in various EU states.

Certainly Commonwealth residents in the UK can vote but residency itself has to be legal, doesn't it? Many Commonwealth countries frown on dual citizenship, don't they? Which may be why just legal residency confers the right to vote.

I do wonder how many EU citizens with UK residence found they couldn't register to vote in the general election yet had been polled as Labour votes (considering their C2,D,E jobs).

I can vote in an Italian general election only because I have 'acceptable' dual citizenship. (I don't vote any more in the UK as I feel it's not really my business to make choices that no longer affect me greatly).

If the EU does move to endow EU citizenship with national voting rights (perhaps some kind of residency qualification) all sorts of interests are going to be disturbed (multiplied by 28 and rising).

Anonymous said...

I do wonder how many EU citizens with UK residence found they couldn't register to vote in the general election yet had been polled as Labour votes

This. A couple of Estonian ladies at a dinner party shortly before the election were talking about which way they were going to vote. When it came to the day of the vote they realised they couldn't.

hatfield girl said...

Estonia - where citizenship is by descent (with some exceptions) and citizenship compromised by the holding of any other nationality (often Russian) and whose citizenship rules are affected by their interaction with the Russian Federation rules. Estonians certainly cannot vote in a UK general election because they won't risk applying for UK citizenship Bit like Italians - jus sanguinis plus odds and sods.

Who can vote in the EU referendum? We cannot pretend that he electoral register will do to decide.