Politics: The EU expat voting initiative “Let Me Vote” fell short of its petition drive goal, but organisers hope the effort paves the way for future progress.
The “Let Me Vote” campaign for equal voting rights among expatEU citizens failed to reach its target by a wide margin, but organisers said the effort has paved the way for future traction.
Let Me Vote advocated automatic and instant suffrage for all EU nationals living in another member state, including in local and national polls, according to Nicolas Delaby, who led the effort in Luxembourg.
It was organised as a European Citizens Initiative, the petition mechanism that--if one million signatures are collected--triggers a review by authorities in Brussels. “The European Commission will have to look into the proposal and trigger a debate within the European institutions. They don’t have to follow, but they at least have to discuss,” Delaby said in the October 2013 print edition of Delano.
Yet the campaign garnered less than 10% of the signatures it hoped to receive in Luxembourg by its January 28 deadline, he told Delano on Tuesday. Only about 300 people signed out of goal of 4,500 in the Grand Duchy. Across the EU, the group netted roughly 3,600 signatures against the one million needed, he reported.
The drive was “far from being a success” Delaby conceded. He cited the challenge of a having “a really narrow target in terms of audience”, with only 2% of EU citizens living in another member state. That means, “there is a lack of interest by people in this topic”.
On the other hand, he cited a pair of positive outcomes from the effort. First, “we know that we have a number of people to support the idea of enlarging voting rights for Europeans in other European countries”.
At the same time, the campaign captured interest “in Brussels circles” and among some policy think tanks. Both lay the groundwork for a future campaign that could get under way as soon as 2015, said Delaby, a native of Dunkirk, France, who in his day job is a project manager for Luxembourg-based food safety lab Eurofins.
The group believes its experience might also be helpful in lobbying for other causes. Philippe Cayla--the boss of Euronews who launched and headed the petition drive across Europe--wrote in an email to Let Me Vote supporters earlier this year: “We could study the launch of new ECIs, since we have become kind of specialists now. Up to everyone of you to propose fresh ideas!”
Meanwhile, Delaby noted that the Grand Duchy’s new coalition government is currently considering a referendum on “enlarging voting rights of all citizens living in Luxembourg”.
While that may or not happen, Delaby wants civil society to be prepared to push for the proposal. He has joined an organising committee at Asti, the association that advocates for immigrant workers, which is likely to be involved in any public debate on the vote.