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French Government U-Turn on Expat Voting

As we have repeatedly reported here on Expatriate Healthcare over the last few years, one of the most hotly-contested subjects when it comes to expatriate life is voting on political matters.

In many cases the emphasis has been on whether or not expats that have left their home country may be allowed to vote on constitutional matters at home.

In the last 12 months we’ve had Romanian expats that were allowed to vote but actually couldn’t due to technical difficulties, Greeks unable to vote as overseas systems were rolled out too slowly, and 1.4 million Canadian expats being told they’re not allowed to vote in Canada any more.

Most expats, it seems, want to have a say in how their home country is being run, even if they’re currently living abroad for work or family.

However less emphasis has been made of whether expats can vote in their adopted country. After all, should all those Canadians that can’t vote in Canada be allowed to vote in their new country of residence, for example?

France has recently hit the headlines for this exact reason, and not for the right reasons.

In the past, expats living and working in France have broadly been split into two different camps. In the first camp are those who have moved to France from another EU nation. These expats have been free to register with the electoral role and to vote in municipal elections.

However the case has been rather different for expats from other non-EU countries, who have no rights to vote on such matters.

During his election campaign President Hollande of France had promised to change this situation. He was clear that individuals who had lived in the country and contributed for the long term should have the right to have their say in how the country was run. It shouldn’t matter whether these individuals are from the EU or not.

However in a shocking change of heart, Pres. Hollande has recently revealed that this is highly unlikely to occur any time soon.

It appears that there is considerable resistance to the matter in congress, with many politicians strongly opposed to the matter. Many people in France simply don’t want “foreigners” having a say in how the country will be governed.

Admitting defeat on the subject, the president stated bluntly that the matter is not a priority for the French government. The reality is that such a change to the French constitution would be problematic at best, particularly when the government does not have the necessary votes to push through a change to the law.

For now, it seems, non-EU expats living in France must get used to not voting.

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