France ditches promise to give non EU expats the vote in local elections

by Ray Clancy on November 6, 2015

Non-European Union expats will not be given the right to vote in France in local elections despite it being a pledge given by President Francois Hollande during his election campaign.

It was a highly controversial proposal, with supporters saying that people who have lived many years in the country should have the ability to vote and the opposition staunchly against foreigners having a say.

FRANCEflagExpats from other EU countries can vote in municipal elections for their local mayor and councillors. But French Prime Minister Manual Valls has now confirmed that this will not be extended to non EU expats, adding that it is not a priority for the French government.

He admitted that it would be impossible to pass a law making the required change to the French constitution to allow foreigners to vote at this level as the socialist government does not have a majority in the Senate needed to approve such a change.

“It is no longer a subject, it will not be implemented and I am convinced that it will not re-proposed at the next presidential election,” Valls said.

It is a U turn for the government. Indeed Hollande said only a few months ago that he still supported more votes for expats. “How can it be that people who have been here for 20 years, 30 years cannot vote,” he said in his traditional presidential speech on Bastille Day.

Hollande had wanted to give foreign nationals who are legally living in France and have been in the country for more than five years the right to vote in municipal elections, as is the case for citizens from other European Union countries.

Supporters of the vote for all expats claimed that the French government had given into the Far Right, which is experiencing a rise in popularity in France at the moment amid increasing support for tougher immigration rules.

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