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View Full Version : Long-term residents not interested in voting at Belgian elections



Maciamo
25-07-06, 11:45
The Belgian government has given long-term foreign residents (people who have been living in the country for 5 years or more) the right to vote. The first opportunity for them to do so will be the local elections in October, for which foreign residents had to register until the end of July if they wanted to vote. Voting is otherwise compulsory (and enforced, with fines) for Belgian nationals.

Expatica : Foreign voter drive meets with 'miserable' results (http://www.expatica.com/source/site_article.asp?subchannel_id=24&story_id=31772)


The new-found right to vote at October's local elections has failed to excite Belgium's foreign residents, who have stayed away from registration centres in droves.

Less than a week before the deadline, just 2,338 non-EU nationals living in Flanders have registered to vote. That represents just 5.48 percent of the target population.
...
He said in Wallonia ― where an active government information campaign was waged ― the registration drive also met with little success.

This is a clear sign of disinterest by foreign residents (mostly Africans, Arabs and Turks) in the country's social and political life.

I wonder whether non-Belgians working for EU institutions are considered as foreign residents or not. They do not pay taxes to the Belgian government (only to the EU, which is why they have special EU car plates, among others), are visa exempt, and are not really "foreigners" by EU standards (especially since they are the ones ruling the EU).

Kinsao
25-07-06, 15:00
That's interesting. (Bah, why do I always start my posts with those words?!!)
I wonder what is the reason for this low figure, and for the disinterest?
Although, I don't know about Belgium but I can say that in the UK there are a lot of people (not LTRs necessarily, I just mean of the general population eligible to vote) who don't bother to vote - but the figure isn't anywhere near as low as that. :souka: I feel there is political apathy among a lot of the population, along with the feeling that you as an individual can't make much difference. Maybe people who have come to Belgium from other countries might have come from a system/regime where there either wasn't the facility to vote, or else the votes were very much rigged and everyone felt there wasn't any point in participating, and so they don't have the habit of voting at all? Or perhaps they have been spending that time trying to adjust to life in another country, without much 'brain space' left over for considering the socio-political issues of the country? (I know 5 years + seems like a long enough time, but of course a knowledge of Belgian/European politics wouldn't be ingrained in them in the same way as it is in someone who has been born and raised there, and these things take some concentration to assimilate, even across years, at a time when, moving to another country, for several years at least there are other things uppermost in one's mind.)

I agree it would be interesting to know exactly which 'categories of people' were included in the study. :relief:

Maciamo
25-07-06, 15:12
Maybe there are just very satisfied with the current laws and government policies. Or they trust the Belgian nationals to vote as they would. :-)


Or perhaps they have been spending that time trying to adjust to life in another country, without much 'brain space' left over for considering the socio-political issues of the country? (I know 5 years + seems like a long enough time, but of course a knowledge of Belgian/European politics wouldn't be ingrained in them in the same way as it is in someone who has been born and raised there, and these things take some concentration to assimilate, even across years, at a time when, moving to another country, for several years at least there are other things uppermost in one's mind.)

Most of the foreigners concerned with voting were actually born and raised in Belgium. For example, the Moroccans are the 2nd biggest foreign community in Belgium (after the Italians) and most of them are now 2nd or 3rd generations.



I agree it would be interesting to know exactly which 'categories of people' were included in the study.

I am almost certain that EU citizens (including the large Italian community) were included because they have had the right to vote at local and EU elections since 1993 and they do not have to register. So we are talking mainly about immigrants from developing countries. The 5% who registered might coincide with the small number of long-term residents from non-EU Western countries (e.g. USA). I'd almost be interested to have the break-up by nationality.