Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Only one percent of ex-pats register for Euro elections

Only 313 foreigners have registered to vote in Poland for the European Parliament this June, thenews.pl can reveal.

According to Polish and EU election law, the right to elect MEPs belongs to every foreigner above the age of 18, is a citizen of a EU member state and has voting rights in his home country, is a permanent resident of the Republic of Poland and is registered to vote.

EU citizens are also able to vote in Polish local government elections.

The main obstacle seems to getting more foreigners involved in the elections seems to be a fear of red tape. To enroll, foreigners have to submit a special form in a commune office at his or her place of residence. The form can be found on the National Electoral Office web site.

In many other countries in the EU, if you have permanent residency then you are automatically eligible to vote.

Out of more than 10.000 EU citizens who have permanent residency in Poland, only one percent of them usually vote in either European or local elections. That ratio would be even lower if we included those foreigners who do not apply for permanent residency.

But can foreigners still be registered to vote in the elections this summer?

“The deadline passed on April 9th 2009,” Lech Gejzler from National Electoral Commission told thenews.pl. “But those who submit their names now can be sure that they will be on the list for the next election.”