Give us back our right to vote!

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UK in Italy/flickr
HARRY SHINDLER: War vet fighting for expats’ right to vote.

BRITISH expatriates are demanding that the rule which removes their right to vote in the UK after 15 years is abolished.

With the general election in the UK fast approaching, many expats in Spain – still bristling from the recent Winter Fuel Allowance debate – are  backing a promised bill to abolish the controversial rule.

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Today (February 5) is Overseas Voter Registration Day, encouraging expats to register to vote, but any Britons who moved to Spain before the year 2000 are not entitled to vote in the general election this May.

A large number of expats feel disenfranchised as they don’t have a vote either in their home country or their adopted country, as expats can only vote in Spanish national elections if they have taken Spanish citizenship.

According to the official representative of one of Spain’s Conservative Abroad (CA) branches, the so-called ‘15-year rule’ should be amended to a vote for life. Peter Newey told Euro Weekly News (EWN): “The current position is unfair in many ways. I pay tax in the UK. I have investments and may one day wish to return to live in the UK; after all, who knows what the future holds for any of us.


“As we are seeing now, whichever political party is in Government today has a profound effect and impacts on the quality of life in the UK in years to come, and so having the right to vote in elections does matter. There are so many issues that Britons living overseas are concerned about in the UK, yet can do nothing about at the one time you can have a voice… election time!”

This matter has cross-party support, with Labour International and Liberal International also calling for the rule to be abolished. Mr Newey stressed that expats in Spain have been vocal about the issue.


“The largest number of CA branches in any single country is in Spain and it has been these branches who have led the campaign over many, many years to highlight how wrong this rule is,” Mr Newey remarked.

EWN has also tried to get in touch with Labour International, but was still waiting for a response at the time of going to press.




6 COMMENTS

  1. You can vote in the UK elections….even if you have been overseas for more than 15 years……..as long as you have voted in the UK in the last 15 years………..I have been in Spain for 14 years and as long as you have voted during the last 15 years…..even by post from overseas……….YOU CAN VOTE…….

  2. The Labour Party during 13 yrs in office ignored us.
    The Conservative party has had nearly a full term in office to correct this anomaly.
    My French & German neighbours here in Spain have a vote for life.
    UKIP give us back our vote please !
    We are in the European Union because ?.

  3. The latest, (5 to 11 Feb 2015), issue of EWN, has at last given very creditable exposure to the scandal of the 15 year limit, imposed by the previous UK government, for overseas voters to exercise their democratic right. Many reading your article on page 16, will not care less and will probably agree with the comments by Mike Walsh. Those who are rather more positive and wish to influence the status quo will be encouraged to do something about it, as expressed in the articles by Colin Bird and Cassandra Nash. Regardless of which political party you support, get registered, so that the powers that be, realise the extent of the expat community that does care about their vote and are not, as they currently clearly suspect, are just a bunch of indifferent exiles. Many readers may, as I do, pay and will continue to pay, my UK income tax but will very soon have no political representation. That situation is clearly unjust.
    It is disappointing, but not surprising, to learn that only the Conservatives are prepared to state that, if returned to office in 2015, they are committed to extend this restriction to the life of the voter. I have written to my MP several times on this issue and I do hope that others are doing the same.
    Yours sincerely,
    Ken Quinnell

  4. I went online as advised to register my vote in the UK, and within seconds received an email with the form to fill and send to the voting area where I used to live in England.

    However upon reading this I find that they can only dispatch a ballot paper 4 days before the election.
    Since mail from the UK takes 3-4 or even 5 days this is still not going to be feasible. I live in the centre of Torrevieja and the post lady comes to the building every day so the delay is not here and mail from here to the UK arrives in 2 days or 3 at most.
    It looks from this as if we shall still not be able to vote in the UK elections unless there is some way to get the authorities to send the ballot papers out earlier, or let us go to the Consulates to do so.

  5. The ending of the 15 year rule, whilst commendable, is not the answer to the problem of ex-pats being ignored. No UK MP is going to do anything that may upset his/her local voters for the sake of a few distant ex-pats. The only way to get an MP to listen to what you are saying, is to have him/her representing a proper constituency such as the French do for their nationals who live in the UK. What we need is an MP to represent those of us who live outside the UK but are still forced by law to pay income tax in that country. Until that happens, no one is going to listen to you, far less take you seriously. Just a point about the WFA; if it really should be decided on a temperature based scheme, why do the people in the north of Scotland receive the same amount as those living on the south coast of England? Should the promised referendum on EU membership ever take place, watch the main parties taking every step to ensue that those of us resident in EU countries, are included in that vote.

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