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The Maastricht Diplomat

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[France 24] EP discusses right to vote

Debates were heated in the European Parliament this morning, as members of the Identity and Democracy (ID) group defended an amendment restricting the right to vote in European elections to citizens born in an EU member state only. The Parliament is currently engaging in a discussion on the topic of European electoral reform, to address the notorious so-called ‘democratic deficit’ of the Union. According to the Italian Lega per Salvini Premier, part of the ID group, this amendment would ensure that Europeans make an informed decision, having lived in a European environment their whole lives. A Lega MEP told France 24 the proposal is “extreme but necessary”.

After having discussed the definition of womanhood earlier this week, the Parliament almost went into yet another philosophical conversation on what it means to be European. The proposal caused outrage in other fractions of the assembly, with left-wing MEPs denouncing the racism of their ID colleagues. An MEP from the German Greens accused the far-right of “instrumentalising” immigrants, and resorting to the argument of migration “whenever they can”. They, as well as a member from France’s Renaissance party, noted that ID was trying to divert attention from the original topic of the Parliamentary debate.

A member from the Dutch liberal Democrats 66 emphasised on the fact that the ID proposal goes against European values and treaties. To that end, ID MEPs are hinting at the possibility of a treaty change. Meanwhile, left-wing parties such as the Spanish PSOE, highlighting the limits of the current electoral system whereby only citizens of a Member State have the right to vote, also suggested opening a discussion on treaty change to better involve immigrant communities. This leads to the Lega MEP and their colleagues from the ID and ECR (European Conservatives and Reformists) groups calling out the left on their “hypocrisy”.

This confrontation between the antipodes of the house gives the centre-right the role of referee in the debate. The European People’s Party, through their Swedish member from the Moderata Samlingspartiet, approves the general framework of the ID’s proposal on improving education on European matters, but disagrees with the contentious ‘EU-born only’ measure. For them, the status quo of only allowing citizens with a European passport is satisfactory enough.

- Jacob Waddingham, Political Correspondent for France 24


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