It is interesting to note that not everybody living in the UK will be able to vote in the European Union (EU) referendum on the 23th June 2016.
European citizens living in the UK, have pretty much the same rights as British citizens when it comes to working, studying, owning a house, etc. If you are from a country that is a member of the EU for example, you can attend universities in the UK and enjoy the same educational benefits as any British born citizen.
However, EU citizens living in the UK have different voting rights compared to British citizens. According to the Electoral Commission UK: “Citizens of EU countries other than the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Cyprus and Malta cannot vote in UK Parliamentary general elections.” So for instance, if you are an Italian citizen working or studying in the UK, you will not be able to vote in the EU referendum.
I have some Italian friends living and studying in the UK but they may not be able to vote in the EU referendum. This does not seem right to me because decisions that are made as a result of the referendum will affect them just as much as they will affect me.
The Electoral Commission UK also said that, EU citizens can vote in “European Parliamentary elections if they fill in a form stating that they wish to vote in the UK and not in their home country.” Basically, this means that if my Italian friends would like to vote in something similar to general elections, then they would have to give up their voting rights in Italy.
I asked my friends if they would be happy about giving up their rights to vote in Italy in order to vote in the EU referendum.
This is my friend Joana, she moved to the UK from Italy at the age of 16. Joana is a Marketing and Management student at the University of Leicester. Joana is still an
Italian national because she has an Italian passport. However, she has been living in the UK for over 6 years now which gives her residency right to vote in general elections only if she chooses to give up her voting rights in Italy or naturalize to become a British. Nonetheless, I always encourage her to vote in local elections since she has the right to do so as an EU citizen.
“They sent me a form that I had to fill out, which said that if I sign it then I will be able to vote here and not in Italy and I signed it because I live here now so I think it’s important that I vote even though I’m an Italian national and I want my opinions to be heard where I’m actually being affected which is in the UK.”
Joana also said she will be voting in the upcoming EU referendum:
“I will be voting for the UK to stay in the EU because obviously there are opportunities here for me but if the UK leaves I will need to move somewhere else to find other opportunities.”
This is my other friend Katney. She is from Italy and she is studying Accounting and Finance at De Monforte
University. Kateny unlike Joana, seems more relaxed about being able to vote in the UK.
“I don’t really mind not being able to vote in the UK because I’m not British.”
I also asked Katney if she would vote to leave or remain in the UK if she was given the opportunity:
“I would vote for the UK to stay in the EU because it’s the rights thing to do.”
I think EU citizens living in the UK should be able to vote in the EU referendum purely because they live here which means every political decision made will affect them just as much as they will affect British citizens. However, I do acknowledge the fact that they do not really hold citizenship rights the way that we do. To be honest, I do not think if I went to Italy to study I would get the right to contribute in national decisions. At the same time, I just feel like something as big and important as the EU referendum, every single person living in the UK, at the appropriate voting age should be educated on the advantages and disadvantages of the EU referendum (so if we leave or stay in the EU, how will it benefit different people in Britain).
What are your thoughts on EU citizens being able to vote in the EU referendum?
More information on who is eligible to vote in the UK can be found on the Electoral Commission UK website: www.electoralcommission.org.uk
Register to vote in the EU referendum at: https://meandeurope.com/